PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says the thieves who destroyed the economy are now the ones saying there is corruption in the country.

Speaking when he officiated at the 20th anniversary of Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA), Saturday, President Lungu insisted that the fight against corruption was corrupted.

“On my part as President of the Republic of Zambia, president of the Patriotic Front Party, I want to say it openly here that I will continue to look up to the church for spiritual and moral guidance, including engaging the church in various issues. Of course I have in mind the fight against gender based violence, child marriages and corruption which greatly affect our people and retard development. I am very clear on these issues and I don’t want to talk more about them but I think help us fight the fight against corruption. The other day, I said the problem in Zambia is that the fight against corruption has been corrupted. Those of us from the Copperbelt, remember KMB, you go there, a pickpocket picks from someone’s pocket and he is being chased ‘kawalala kawalala’ (thief! thief!) and he is busy saying kawalala kawalala, you find in the end, you get confused who is kawalala? So this is what has happened to the fight against corruption, thieves…people who have destroyed the economy are the ones saying ‘corruption, corruption’ and you don’t know who is corrupt,” President Lungu said.

“The fight has lost efficacy so we need to go back to the drawing table and say can we revisit the fight against corruption. The role of the church as major stakeholders is to come back to us and show us where we went wrong in the fight against corruption. You can’t have a country where people say I want to be as corrupt as that one, some children when you ask them right now; who is your role model? They say ‘I want to be like that one asebenza kuti’? (Where does he work?) Ati [They say] he just runs around town ati nitamanga chabe (he hustles), he has a house, he has businesses he cannot even say where he got the money from and you say that is a role model because the fight against corruption has been corrupted. So we need to get back, if it is executions which are failing us let us reform them, if it is the people, let us educate them, if it is the law, let us reform it.”

He said he would work with the church to curb political violence.

“On my part, I want to confirm that the PF government will work the church in efforts aimed at improving the political landscape, to make sure that there is peace in that area. Where I am standing, we have a number of issues, particularly violence. I urge you to continue praying for peace and unity to prevail in our country as we head towards the general elections on 12th August, 2021. We need peace and unity before, during and after the elections to make sure there is peace in that area. I am saying this because of the elections that are coming, when we visit you asking for votes, talk to us, take us to the sides of the room and personally challenge us, where our stand is on a number of issues particularly violence so that we speak loudly and clearly on what we stand [for] when admonishing and punishing those our members who engage in political violence,” President Lungu said.

“I heard one leader say when you are provoked, fight back. But I say when you are provoked, call the police. Because it takes two to tangle; somebody provokes you, you seek help quickly, you don’t wait to be hit before you hit back, you have a duty to play yourself by seeking refuge in the hands of police. You don’t go out there saying akaniyamba nizamumenya (When I’m provoked, I will beat him). You should go out there and say I hope I won’t be provoked, I hope there will be friendship and brotherhood in our politics.”

He commended BIGOCA for supporting the construction of a maternity ward in Nyimba District.

“It is gratifying to note that the church has also supported the construction of Ndake maternity annex at the Ndake rural health post in Nyimba district. I commend you for that and urge you to continue with these good deeds for the benefit of our people. My government will continue to work with the church in efforts aimed at improving our communities. I would also like to use this occasion to reiterate that Zambia is a Christian nation, hence it is expected that the church will live up to that declaration so that even the outside world should know us as a Christian nation by our deeds,” he said.

“It is actually a call to all of us to uphold Christian principles which reflect true Christianity. We should all work together as a nation to ensure that we practice and live the marks of true Christianity which are; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. These are the fruits of the Holy Spirit according to Galatians chapter 5 verse 22 to 23.”

Meanwhile, President Lungu urged the church to form cooperatives.

“Let me also take advantage of this celebration to urge the clergy, women and the youth in our churches to form cooperatives for them to benefit from the government empowerment fund initiatives. As Christians, we cannot continue to sit back hence the need for us to get involved in initiatives that are aimed at improving our lives. I believe that the church has not been spared from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is, therefore, imperative that empowerment initiatives are put in place to cushion the impact caused by the pandemic,” said President Lungu.