FORMER works and supply minister Sylvia Chalikosa says she is surprised that images are trending of former president Edgar Lungu and other PF officials attending a church service because they wanted to commemorate the National Day of Prayer in a quiet manner.

And Chalikosa says Lungu was not invited by the State to attend the National Day of Prayer and Fasting.

In an interview, Chalikosa said Lungu chose to commemorate the day at St Theresa Catholic Church in a quiet manner because the state didn’t invite him to the national function.

“He wasn’t invited by the State. The churches are the ones who are supposed to organize events, then the State comes in to participate and make it a national event. But they did give us 30 cards so our people represented the party in different churches everywhere. So it was not that we shunned it except that we attended different churches, in different congregations. Some went to Catholic, some went to other churches. We were there, we may not have been given prominence like we were before. This time you saw the prominence was given to the party in power. But it doesn’t mean that we did not observe it. We did. Depending on who was organising, if it was the churches that were organizing we did receive an invitation, but if this thing is linked to the State, there was nothing from the State,” Chalikosa said.

“It is a time for deep reflection, if we have wronged the people we need to apologize to them and given the chance, we have to do things differently. There was no press, so I am surprised that we are trending. We wanted a quiet moment to ourselves to commemorate the National Day of Prayer, it is not about publicity.”

Chalikosa said the PF did not use the National Day of Prayer and Fasting for political strategy, contrary to UPND claims.

“As much as UPND wants to say that it was a political strategy to get support from religious sectors, that is far from the truth. Because PF generally, we believe that wherever we are, be it campaigns, during our course of service when we were serving as ministers or different portfolios, wherever Sunday found us, we always went to church and that has not changed. The only thing that came in was this COVID-19 where some of these gatherings were restricted. But going to church is something that is within us and we learnt all that from the days of Michael Sata when PF was just formed. So for us going to church as PF, it is not a matter of publicity where you want cameras. There were no cameras and even these pictures that you are seeing, somebody just decided to take a photo because they were happy that he was congregating with ordinary people,” she said.

“It wasn’t even a big service; it was a small service which is very disappointing. Because if really, we are a Christian nation, we should try to live up to an ideology where we are praying to God for healing in this country and we are asking God to be spiritually with us, we are the ones who need him, not the other way round.”

Meanwhile, Chalikosa said political violence had been rampant during the UPND’s administration.

“Even with all this political violence, if all of us asked God to come into our hearts, none of us would want to hurt the other person because it would be a body of forgiveness and a body of ‘let us start a new page, let us do things differently’. This political violence has been rampant in UPND everybody knows that. UPND is quick to say that PF is responsible for this,” said Chalikosa.