COUNCIL of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya says politicians should not think that the church has prophets for hire, but that they will, however, condemn proven cases of abuse by law enforcement agencies.

Former religious affairs minister Godfridah Sumaili recently lamented that the church was too quiet when it was supposed to speak out on the current abuse of people in the country.

Commenting on this in an interview, Fr Chikoya said there was no need to cry because those arrested should face the law.

“If 100 journalists have stolen, there is nothing like balancing. I mean if people have actually got issues, it is not a matter of balancing but it is a matter of ensuring that the rights of the suspects are respected. They should not be mistreated and they should be given a fair hearing, access to their legal team and relatives,” he said.

“When those things do not happen, we will condemn and we will not allow a situation where everyone including suspects are ill treated. But to say there should be balancing I do not know how the balancing can be done. If people have committed crimes and they have been arrested for those crimes, I mean they are being investigated for those crimes. There is no need to begin to cry, they should explain themselves and be accountable for whatever they are suspected to have done wrong.”

Fr Chikoya said the church would condemn where there were proven cases of abuse by the law enforcement agencies.

“When it comes to the church being quiet, for me I have [said] it to her before in the past and even now. Why is it that politicians always want the church to speak? When they are telling you we (the church) have been quiet, they are speaking with their own interests in mind. We have spoken on various issues and I think we are okay,” said Fr Chikoya.

“We are ensuring through our presence that there is fairness in everything and no malpractices. So we are doing our work. But we are not prophets for hire and we expect that when people have committed offences let them exculpate themselves. Where there are proven cases of abuse by the law enforcement agencies and we come to note that, we will speak.”