ARCHBISHOP Telesphore Mpundu says church leaders have banded with criminals and government in looting and plundering Zambia’s resources through ongoing donations derived from unexplained income.

In an interview, Archbishop Mpundu wondered how a committed priest and a bishop could be silent in the face of extremely bad governance, but remain happy to continue receiving various cash donations from the ruling party whose source remained unknown.

“I do not know how a committed Christian, who is also a priest and a bishop, can choose to be silent in the face of extremely bad governance such as in this country at this moment in time…It seems today the ZCCB (Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops) has opted to pray more and to leave issues of good governance to God’s providence through silent whispering to the mighty rulers, which approach so far has been proved ineffective in bringing about the desired result. What is obtaining in our country demands a loud and prophetic voice for all, especially the Presidency to hear, clearly,” Archbishop Mpundu said.

“The atrocities that this administration has committed must be unequivocally condemned in Zambia. Lately, the Church across denominations has failed to rise up to its prophetic calling and duty because its leadership has been compromised. The one who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver was one of his closest friends, the apostle named Judas Iscariot. Bishops are successors of the apostle; they, too, at least some of them, have abandoned their prophetic duty in exchange for money. They have banded with criminals and the government in looting and plundering this country. This is a bare truth. It ought to be a national shame for the so-called Christian nation!”

He lamented that President Edgar Lungu had managed to successfully divide the Church.

“The Lungu Presidency has managed to divide us church leaders within denominations and across the board of the Christian denominations and between church leaders and their faithful. So, now, he reigns supreme and in tranquillity. This Presidency has used those in church authority to silence or at least to attempt to silence me, forgetting that as a Zambian citizen, my freedom of expression and association must be respected and protected,” he said.

And Archbishop Mpundu insisted that he was not going to apologise for saying, “they want to disqualify HH and leave a crook to win in 2021.”

“Those who want my head on a silver platter to he handed to ‘King Edgar Chagwa Lungu’ in the way John the Baptist’s chopped head was handed to King Herod, merely jumped to the conclusion that the ‘crook’, the News Diggers! and I meant Edgar Chagwa Lungu. It is a self-inflicted wound. I will, therefore, not apologise for what some people think I said or meant or even should have said. Who does not know that successive administrations in this beleaguered country from the first president through to today’s Edgar Chagwa Lungu are notorious for deliberately turning the political playing field only to their advantage cheerfully and proudly, excluding opposition political parties, and shamefully rejoicing in their so-called parties and shamefully rejoicing in their so-called electoral victory where there is hardly any contest to talk about? It is a common trait among ruling political parties in our nation of humbugging themselves with hallucinations they take for reality,” he observed.

Archbishop Mpundu maintained that he was ready to go to jail for accusing government leaders of being corrupt.

“Some have suggested that government should arrest me so I can substantiate the claims of theft by public servants and so on. They have added that by accusing government of being crooks and thieves, I am inciting the people to rebel against government. I am ready at any time to go to jail for that. Only a shameless government would jail a citizen for telling the truth the public is already aware of,” he said.

“Another salvo on me came from the mighty Catholic Church, the Apostolic Nunciature, His Excellency, the most Reverend Gallone and the ZCCB. The main objective was to inform the public at large and to assure the Presidency that they dissociate themselves from my sentiments and pronouncements, which were totally mine and, therefore, represented only myself, not the view of the Catholic Church leadership at home or globally. The ZCCB is declaring that, ‘I was a lone ranger with nothing to do with them, was not making revelations at all’.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Mpundu charged that the PF’s move to quickly enact the controversial Cyber Security Bill was motivated by the desire to retain power at all costs.

“The political establishment is full of little men who are very scared! So, what they want to do is to follow everybody, they won’t manage. All our telephones are going to be hacked in, it is worse than a dictatorship. They want power at all cost, it is a shame to have a group in Parliament that calls itself ‘Catholic parliamentarians,’ they are there just for cosmetics,” said Archbishop Mpundu.