PATRIOTIC Front media director Sunday Chanda says whenever Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu speaks, his utterances seem to align with the UPND agenda.
Recently, Archbishop Mpundu insisted that Zambia is a dictatorship because there is no level-playing field for opposition political parties to operate.
But in an interview, Chanda wondered why Archbishop Mpundu did not ever criticise the UPND.
“Not to say that the Archbishop cannot comment on political matters, he can but what he should be clear about is if he wants to play partisan politics. We have never heard the Archbishop criticizing the UPND unless he tells us that the UPND is a congregation of angels and saints. We are not allergic to criticism. President Edgar Lungu has been the most criticised leader in office and he doesn’t mind it because that is what he signed up for. The President will never respond to the Archbishop for the simple reason that we respect the title that he carries and we would not want to antagonise the church in any way. We respect his views but one thing to say is that whenever he speaks, we are seeing partisan politics, we are seeing a partisan politician we are seeing someone who is speaking an agenda for the UPND,” Chanda said.
Chanda said Archbishop Mpundu’s role was to provide counsel.
“His is to provide counsel to the body of politics in general as opposed to throwing criticism against the PF because we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where we are responding politically to the Archbishop. We respect the role the church plays and we don’t think that anyone should abuse that title. It is very hard to respond to Archbishop Mpundu not that he is [not] raising any substantive issues but because he is rearing in the arena of politics and clearly what the good Archbishop is doing is to play politics as opposed to providing counsel to the nation. We would prefer a situation where the Archbishop would question the democratic credentials within the UPND…to question whether or not what happened at the UPND convention is acceptable,” said Chanda.
In his remarks, Archbishop Mpundu said this year’s election would be a litmus test for the country’s self-proclaimed democracy.
“The election time, I think it is a litmus test to our self-proclaimed democracy. There has to be a level-playing field for all political players. All political players must be free to come up there to share their ideas. It is not only the ruling party who has solutions to problems or who can lead this country. Let the people choose, how are people going to choose? People are going to choose through the ballot. If there is interference with the ballot, something is wrong, the ballot should be protected. Today, political players are not free, why? Because of a law that was enacted in 1955, the Public Order Act. It was enacted by the British to stall any political agitation for independence for Africans. Then, after independence, we hung on to it till today. Take it away, it is undemocratic. A level-playing field is a place where people are free to speak. So, I would like to see this happen. We can claim to be a democratic country? We are not! As it is now, this is a dictatorship of one party. So, let this playing field be levelled for everybody,” said Archbishop Mpundu.
“Why would a political party be intent on creating violence? You know, politics is the biggest game in the whole world. So, do away with political violence because it is also reflecting with the violence that is at home. Political violence is primitive, we have to get rid of it and it should be outlawed. Let us see those groupings of political youths, let them be criminalised. Let it be against the law to belong or assist these groups, they call them cadres. Let them be criminalised, then ourselves as a nation, we call ourselves a Christian nation, what? And we have all these people who are killing others and beating others, no way! Let us criminalise them.”