COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya has advised the clergy to provide responsible shepherding and to avoid campaigning for politicians in the name of prophecy.
And Fr Chikoya has urged church leaders to speak truth to power and not get mesmerized by gifts and donations.
In an interview, Fr Chikoya said the clergy should interact and pray with politicians but should not become their political party agents in terms of prophesying.
“The church must be a place where all people are welcome, so the politicians, non-politicians are welcome to pray. But when they go there with an agenda to promote their political inclinations, then they are off truck and that should not be entertained. So what we would advise our churches in general, the clergy, lets provide responsible shepherding, lets avoid getting carried away with being pro for particular individuals. The church will always be pro Jesus and nothing else. So the offerings are always collected in church and everyone must give the way everyone gives. So the moment people want to give and then they want prominence, then we should mention everyone else who has given and celebrate them too. I don’t know how long that service will take. So we need to be wary of such and ensure that we interact, pray with them but don’t become their political party agents in terms of prophesying and all these other things that are emerging,” he said.
“So the message out there to pastors, prophets and whoever, let’s stop campaigning in the name of prophecy, period. That is not accepted. [You should] realize that governments come and go and your relevance must be beyond one government as a church.”
Fr Chikoya further urged the church not offer the pulpit to politicians, saying the pulpit must be reserved for preaching God’s word.
“The pulpit is not for a politician so it shouldn’t even be given to a politician. They should not be given a pulpit. But visitors in various churches sometimes they will tell them ‘tell us where you have come from, greet us’ and that is it. But they don’t take over the pulpit. And we should be very careful because during this time, there will be too many people coming around, so the pulpit must be reserved for preaching God’s word,” he said.
And Fr Chikoya advised political party leaders and their members against wearing party regalia in church.
“That is not even right (for a politician to wear party regalia in church). Let the church be a place where we don’t begin to see red, green, yellow, whatever, in terms of political party orientation. We are getting off truck when we do that. So even when they come to church be it for whatever function, some of them can be for official duty, they shouldn’t come there with political party regalia. You are coming on government function, and government what colour is government? So you shouldn’t go into such places and spaces to promote your agenda. Just be in that formal suit and other clothing, apart from political party regalia, he said.
Meanwhile, Fr Chikoya has called on party leaders to tame unruly cadres.
“It’s one thing to attend prayer services, it’s another thing to tame these unruly cadres. We should not hide behind certain things when we can control certain behaviour. Instances of this nature, they keep on repeating, and when they keep repeating, then it means that somebody is neglecting their duty or somebody is protecting them. We appeal to our leaders, do what you are supposed to do, leave a legacy of peace. The issues of vigilantes, we thought we left it in the one-party state, the first republic, but it has crossed over. Its more vicious. People can not trade in markets, they can’t operate freely in bus stops, in their phone booths. They are trying to make ends meet and here is this cadre, energetic cadre, moving around, harassing them and getting the little they are supposed to have,” he said.
“Then all we hear is mere rhetoric and when they are arrested, within a short period some maneuvers are done, and they are back in the street to their business. So we must make it a must that people who are perpetuating, associating and financing violence are dealt with severely so that the message is sent and that it is not honourable to be violent, to attack others. Give each other space, and even if you meet, why fight? You exchange ideas, promote your agenda and it ends there and life must go on. We shouldn’t be living in fear during the day or night because there are party cadres. This anarchy has to come to an end and the back stops with those in charge of running the affairs of this country.”
Fr Chikoya said there was need to ensure that Zambia was peaceful and secure, adding that the landscape for the electoral processes must be fair in a manner that is favourable to all stakeholders.
“If violence can happen at the ruling party headquarters with the highest and a number of senior most leaders present, what hope is there for the rest of Zambia? I think for me that speaks volumes. You over-manager the other camp and then right in your bedroom violence is going on, what does that say? And then you say ‘I am calling on my children to stop fighting’, no! It requires much more than such words. These matters have to be dealt with very thoroughly. People should be arrested and they should remain behind bars. Go through the legal systems and whatever judicial processes. But it must not be honourable to behave the way the cadres are behaving,” he said.
“In a sense, I will say we are tired of these repeated just condemnations. Can someone do what they are supposed to do. At least we know [that] there are police officers in this country, there is a leader in this country. Let the needful be done that so that people realise that it is not honourable to maim other people, to destroy property and you get away with it. We need to make sure that we make Zambia peaceful, secure and the landscape for the electoral processes must be fair in a manner that is favourable to all stakeholders. No one should have an advantage of getting away with impunity, arrogance and high levels of violence.”
Fr Chikoya further urged church leaders to speak truth to power and not get mesmerized by gifts and donations.
“As church leaders, let’s not pretend and close our eyes in prayer. We must speak truth to power and not get mesmerized by gifts and donations and whatever names you call them. We should be able to say ‘no no no this is not the Zambia we want’,” said Chikoya.