UPND deputy secretary general Gertrude Imenda says Catholic Archbishop of Lusaka Dr Alick Banda should not use the pulpit to advance a political agenda and attack a sitting government.
In his homily for Easter Vigil on Saturday night during Holy Saturday mass at the Cathedral of the Child Jesus in Lusaka, Bishop Banda said the UPND needed to take responsibility for their failures and stop blaming the harsh living conditions on the previous regime.
But in an interview, Imenda said Archbishop Banda was just speaking on behalf of PF.
“He should not use the pulpit to advance a political agenda. I am not aware about which projects President Hakainde Hichilema launched which were started by the PF. All the same, we respect the clergy but when they use the pulpit to attack the sitting government, it is very unfortunate. I would even consider it immoral. The Archbishop is speaking on behalf of the Patriotic Front. I wish he pointed out the failures this government has gone through and it prompted him to talk about it. The new dawn government has introduced free education, paid retirees and paid arrears for council workers including the increase in CDF, so does he consider all this as failure?” she asked.
“When you correct something which was done wrongly by somebody, does it mean you cannot mention why you are correcting that? We are still just within the first four months of our budget and we have implemented all these things and he wants us not to mention the failures of the previous government? If you are moving into a new house and you find the previous tenant made it so dirty, then you start renovating that house, should you not mention that the previous tenant left it in a dilapidated state? If we are to redo the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway at a cheaper price, should we not refer to the $1.2 billion that was stated earlier? So we shouldn’t mention it and just go ahead and fix it?”
Imenda said the UPND could not stop mentioning the failures of the previous regime because they were part of the reasons why government was having challenges to deliver development.
“We have to explain to the people why we are doing these things. This government is working very hard trying to put things right. So according to him we should not mention the failures but just go ahead? We have actually gone ahead but you cannot divorce history from your operations. It will always remind you why you are at this roadblock. Who blocked it? It is the previous government or some other person. So we cannot just remove the hurdle without mentioning who put it there. We should mention. I think Archbishop Alick Banda is respected but when they use the pulpit to be political, it is very unfortunate. I have said this to educate Archbishop Alick Banda of what this new dawn government has done. According to him, all our achievements are failures to him,” said Imenda.
“When we answer, he is going to say something else but he is the one being political. He is speaking on behalf of the PF and so on. Surely how can we not mention? Why shouldn’t we mention about the things that are making it difficult to proceed in certain areas? If he is talking about fuel prices, which one would be better? Subsidizing fuel prices and not giving free education to our children? So you cannot ignore education and subsidise fuel. So the steps the new dawn government has taken are very developmental. Watch this country in the future and you will see.”