CATHOLIC priest Fr Francis Mukosa says the recently held national ecumenical thanksgiving prayers for peaceful elections were planned before the polls and were still going to go ahead regardless of which political party won.

And Fr Mukosa says he wouldn’t have any problem with the national day of prayer if it was organised by the Church and not politicians.

In an interview, Monday, Fr Mukosa said Sunday’s thanksgiving prayers had nothing to do with UPND winning the polls.

“First of all, it is their right because you can’t force everyone to pray and I have a strong conviction that faith is personal. So if someone is not feeling like praying or attending prayers, we respect their positions, it is their personal decision. Otherwise, for us yesterday’s (Sunday) event [was] just a moment of prayer together. And I should mention that this idea of having a day of thanksgiving did not come up after the elections, it was there even before the elections. The three Church Mother Bodies had organized a day before elections. I think it was on the 1st August, just to ask God to help us have peaceful elections,” he said.

“When that was being prepared, an idea was already there saying ‘even after the elections, we should come back and thank God for being with us, for helping us and listening to our prayers’. So this was there even before the elections. I’m saying this so that it is not linked to maybe the political party that has come in power, it has nothing to do with that. Whichever political party that was going to come to power, that day of prayer was going to be there. So it was simply the day of saying thank you Lord for helping us and answering our prayers for having a peaceful election, that’s all.”

Fr Mukosa called on citizens to ensure that they were united.

“I just want to ask my fellow Zambians, my fellow citizens, that we really have to unite and continue to be who we are. It will take us nowhere if we continue pulling each other here and there. Let’s continue with the same spirit of ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ and then we will see that things will be better for us and things will be good for us. So it is just a call for unity and to move forward,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fr Mukosa said he wouldn’t have any problem with the national day of prayer if it was organised by the Church and not politicians.

“If we are to go by what people are saying, yes the view of the majority of the Zambians is that many of these national events were somehow politicized. So now if we were to take everything like that and put everything in one basket, then it means as well [that] even the national day of prayer seems to have been politicized somehow and that’s why people are saying ‘we don’t need it or it serves no purpose’,” said Fr Mukosa.

“On the other hand, I feel having a national day of prayer if it is coming from the Church because that is the mandate of the Church, to organize prayers. Then I wouldn’t have any problem with it. Personally, I would have a problem with it if it is the politicians who are calling the Church to pray because that is not their mandate. People were saying it was politicized because it was the politicians who were calling for prayers, but it has to be the way around.”