ARCHBISHOP Telesphore Mpundu says opposition political parties will make themselves a laughingstock if they continue talking about petty issues instead of offering proper checks and balances.

And Archbishop Mpundu says it is surprising that the opposition PF is complaining about being persecuted, arguing that there is nothing wrong about witch-hunting if there are witches hanging around.

In an interview, Archbishop Mpundu said government should be queried about significant issues and answers will be given.

“The opposition has the right to speak up because they provide checks and balances. Let them speak up because they have been assured you are not going to be locked up. But they should remember that this country is ours, including the opposition and the incumbent government. So in their criticism, they should be concrete and not petty. They say the President has gone to New York and the other day he has gone to his farm in Choma, but what are you bringing up? This is just gossip. You can ask, can we come to an understanding and give us reasons as to why you have traveled,” he said.

“I mean New York is a big example and you cannot avoid it because this is where money comes from. They should be constructive but not petty. Issues of criticism should be clear and reasonable. If people are not reasonable, they just make themselves a laughing stock. They should come out and say why he should not be there today. The trips are many and how do you know that they are important? You should query them and they are going to answer you. Those are checks and balances but not petty things.”

And Archbishop Mpundu said there was nothing wrong with witch-hunting if there were witches hanging around.

“They should not be cry babies for anything but they should come up with constructive criticism but not destructive. This is what will make our democracy much more meaningful. The other day, the President was seen dancing with the Bishop at State House and you think that is something to talk about? Be mature. You were there before and now it is your turn to be critical but in a constructive way by bringing issues that are important. The other day, I heard someone saying that our people are being hunted down for looting and so forth. I mean, if they are not hunted down, how do you catch them? They say this is witch hunting, but there is nothing wrong with witch hunting if there are witches hanging around,” he said.

“They should be hunted down and prosecuted once they have been charged. If they are found guilty, they will pay for it and the courts will release them if they are not. So just talking just for the sake of talking is not mature democracy. Come up with concrete and well reasoned points. This is what we are talking about the trip to New York, I mean this is the big apple. You know you cannot avoid that just like going to London. So this is the time to show that we have freedom of expression and liberties to speak out. But when we speak out, let us not make ourselves childish by coming up with petty things. It is cheap and people will start sidelining you because you are not serious.”

Archbishop Mpundu said government must be challenged to execute certain duties immediately.

“Right from the word go, opposition was frowned upon by the mighty UNIP government. This kind of thing remains when people speak and they say things that are true, they are intimidated. This is where we come from. There are times when you feel there are certain things that can be done immediately and this is what the opposition should come up with. You do not have to stay in government for 20 years in order to do that and people will say that is good. Freedom of speech goes with maturity,” said Archbishop Mpundu.

“If we are speaking for the sake of speaking, then we completely make ourselves a laughing stock to the world. Destructive criticism brings us all down and there are no two ways about it. People in opposition are not there just to bash and laugh but they are there to provide checks and balances in a mature and intelligent way. It is generally believed that if you have nothing to say, do not go ahead and say it. This will push our country forward instead of dragging people in administration. It is childish and not democratic.”