PRESIDENTIAL political advisor Levy Ngoma says President Hakainde Hichilema stands ready to be criticised when he has gone wrong as he is only human and can make mistakes.

And Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu says some people who were clearly compromised are now trying to come out as champions of the poor and oppressed.

Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Archbishop Mpundu, Monday, Ngoma said government would never be in competition with the church.

“We are having a courtesy on behalf of the President who is in South Africa. Two days ago we were in Monze and the message and clarion call from the President to us that work under him was that we want to push this narrative that the church and government are partners in development. Never are we ever going to be in competition. That is what we are trying to push. The church is involved in so many areas of the economy including education, health, communities and the like. So we are not in competition with anyone. That is why when we hear all the counsel given, we are able to see hope in terms of where we are going,” said Ngoma.

“Yours is to talk about development and assist. Like you said when the President does something wrong, you will speak. We want to encourage you to do so. Without constructive criticism you cannot achieve much. The President stands ready to be shaped in the right direction and to be criticised when he has gone wrong. He is only human, he can make a mistake. So we stand ready not to ostracise the church. We stand ready to work with the church and to hear what the church is saying because everything else might be false but the word of God remains true forever. So when you give us counsel we are happy.”

And Archbishop Mpundu said some people who were clearly compromised were now trying to come up as champions of the poor and oppressed.

“Some people right now in that area where compromise was very clear, now they are trying to come up as champions of the poor and the oppressed. This is not right. We know we are talking to people who are getting more politically mature. They understand and they do not want to do too much. They understand why we are here today and where we were yesterday, where this and this was happening. Now that there is a different group in government you are trying to show how in the world that you really care about justice. It is not true because this is not the history that we have,” he said.

“There are some people who are allergic to politics. But why are they allergic to politics when it is a science of governance? So why should people be allergic and tell everybody who goes into politics as liars? They say you are religious people and you are not supposed to participate in politics. They say ‘tell us if you want to be President’ but I do not want to do that. Politics is the biggest game in the whole world. It starts at the family level. I belong to OCiDA. It is meant to see when things are wrong in governance and to bring them up into the public domain so that people become angry enough to do something about it. We are not seeking jobs. Most of us in the senior group are old and we are not seeking jobs at all.”

Archbishop Mpundu said religious leaders should be there to guide citizens, but not as partisan participants.

“What we want is things being done the way they are supposed to be done. For me, as a priest, it is also that moral campus. When the nation has no moral campus, it goes on autopilot and it is bound to crash. That is why we as religious leaders must be there not as partisan participants but as people who are there to guide. When we find wrongdoing, we say it very clearly and not beat around the bush. This is what I see even now. Even now, I have figured [out] some problems staying at the Pope Square. People like you would come asking, not for information, but to share ideas about certain situations. There are some people who have been watching and counting. So finally I was asked to do away from Pope Square,” he said.

“’Could you find some other place’? I said no, find some place for me. So that is how I came here and I am just two days here. I had an office at the Pope Square. But I said it is sad because I am not here to play politics but I am here to play my role as a Priest and Bishop and guide our people to better pastures. This vindicates my own stance even now. I do not know why people are so allergic to politics when it is the biggest game in the whole world. We need to let ideas fight for the good of the country. That is what true politics are. You have a right to hold your own opinion and express that opinion without any interference from anybody.”

Archbishop Mpundu said Christians must be at the forefront of acknowledging the rights of others and have empathy.

“If we can teach our young people about politics being about ideas then we know the future is bright. We are so intolerant and that intolerance came from whom? We all know where that came from. Politics is about ideas and not fighting physically. You let ideas fight and that is what democracy is about. We hope Zambia can grow into this. For me, this is my homework as a religious leader. We say we are Christians but we are the ones in the forefront of putting people at loggerheads because of what we say and do. As Christians, we must be in the forefront of acknowledging the rights of others and having that empathy. Let us dream big for our country. We have so much potential. Let us do whatever we are able to do and make this country one so that we move forward,” said Archbishop Mpundu.