PROVINCIAL of the Zambia-Malawi Province of the Jesuits Father Leonard Chiti says Catholic Priest Fr Lastone Lupupa’s apology is a sign that he regrets the comments he made about rigging the August elections.

And Fr Chiti says electorates should not be swayed to vote for politicians because of donations.

Commenting on Retired Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu’s remarks that Fr Lupupa should be withdrawn from conducting pastoral work in an interview, Fr Chiti said it was the duty of the Christian Community to accept Fr Lupupa’s apology.

“I think that we all know that Fr Lupupa tendered an apology, he regrets the comments that he made when he was doing the mass a couple of weeks ago. As a christian community, we believe in forgiveness, we have been reminded in the scriptures that we should forgive as many times as possible. So my personal opinion is that if a person asks for forgiveness, I think we should forgive that person. In a christian community, there is no limit to forgiveness. We are reminded to forgive especially in this particular case, I know in the previous cases there was no attempt to seek forgiveness for the injuries caused by those statements, but in this particular case, the man has apologized,” Fr Chiti said.

“As far as the christian community is concerned, that is good enough. That will be my personal opinion. I don’t know what the church could do, but my personal opinion is that here is a man who regrets what he said, he is a man who has asked for forgiveness, I think our duty as christians is to accept the apology and forgive.”

Fr Chiti said religious leaders should strive to build peace and unity prior to the August election.

“It is a primary responsibility of any religious leader to always strive to promote peace and unity. Again, we are reminded by the gospel according to Mathew in chapter five, ‘happy are the peacemakers’. Our primary responsibility in any community as religious leaders even as followers of the lord is to promote unity. I think it goes without saying that in a year like 2021 when we are preparing for general elections, every religious leader of any perception of any community, any denomination of every faith should strive to preach peace, to preach unity. The church can never be partisan that is very clear in all our minds, therefore our message has to be non partisan, our message has to build our community and not to divide. So, that will be my hope that all of us who have been called by God to look after his people will strive to unify God’s people and not to divide them,” Fr Chiti said.

And Fr Chiti advised electorates not to be enticed to vote for leaders based on the donations they were making.

“We all know that during election time, politicians dish out money and it’s from both sides of the divide, those in government and those in opposition. They dish out gifts, money, they make promises. My own hope as an observer of Zambian democracy and elections is that the people of Zambia can see through that, because it is the same game they play every five years. They come, they give you gifts and you give them your votes and they forget about you for the next four and half years. Six months before the election, they come back, they give you your K2 and your chitenge, you shout and scream their names and vote for them,” said Fr Chiti.

“So, it is really up to the Zambian people to learn to defend who a true leader is. In a christian community, we speak about servant leaders, servants are not served, servants serve but many of our political leaders are not servants. My own desire is that we the masters, the people who are the masters can see who is a good servant from a bad servant. No amount of bribery or corrupt activities or promises should mask who a true servant of people is from someone who just wants to take advantage of the people’s poor situation.”