President Edgar Lungu says he is disappointed with the Church because it has taken a partisan position on the issue of national dialogue. His main displeasure is that the Church mother bodies have come out strongly to question the capacity of the Zambia Center for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) to handle a national dialogue process.

“The Church should be in the forefront sowing seeds of love and not discord. I’m saying this in light of what is going on. The Church wants to become political, please don’t be political,” President Lungu said at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on the Copperbelt on Saturday while officiating at the General Conference of the Council of Churches in Zambia.”

“We have an institution that we established ourselves in ZCID (Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue). So for the Church, come as Church not as politicians. Those of the Church that want to come into politics; let them come and we will treat them as politicians. If ZCID has no capacity, come and put capacity in ZCID.”

We were not shocked to hear our Head of State go for the church in this manner despite us remembering vividly that this is the same President who ‘whole heartedly’ apologized for using these exact words last year. We were not surprised because we know the real value that President Lungu places on the Church. This statement is proof to those who still believed in his humility, that this man’s respect for the Church is determined by what he needs from it.

On October 10, 2017 when he met the clergy in Lundazi, President Lungu said he had come to the realisation that he was wrong to condemn the church for being political.

“When you tell us this is wrong, we shouldn’t say ‘the church has become political’. Obviously, I was one of those, in those days, who used to believe that the church was political when they tell me, I remember responding to one colleague who was talking to us to say ‘join politics’ but I think that was wrong,” said President Lungu as the clergy applauded him.

“We belong to the same body, that’s all I can say but I seek forgiveness because sometimes we make mistakes and we discover that there are consequences.”

Anyone who is politically awake can tell that our Head of State sees the Church as a pawn for his political advancement. At his weak moments, President Lungu showers the church with praises. When there is a by-election, he dusts his Bible and arrives at church even earlier than the local congregants, because he needs Christian votes. But when he wants nothing from the Church, he paints it black; he hits hard and leaves it bleeding.

We would like to draw our readers’ attention to what our gallant Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Honourable Catherine Namugala said about leadership last week. Her remarks came after a Cabinet minister rose to verbally attack UPND Bweengwa member of parliament Kasautu Michele for saying Zambia was poised to have a Chinese President.

“Honourable members on my right, you are not helping the situation. The Honourable member for Bweengwa, granted, is giving the House a little discomfort. But he is expressing his opinion and for as long as he is within the rules of the House and he is not using unparliamentary language, he will be allowed to continue with his debate,” said Deputy Speaker Namugala.

“Honourable Minister of Home Affairs, that Honourable member for Bweengwa has a right to come to this House and debate just like everybody else. My role here is to help him debate within the rules of the
House. And as I have always said; the hallmark of good leadership is to sit while things that you don’t like are being said, but listen anyway.”

We are afraid that President Lungu, just like his Cabinet ministers who were enraged in the House, don’t have this hallmark of good leadership. The church has not insulted President Lungu or anyone in the PF. Whatever remarks or criticism that the clergy is offering to the government is within the rules of national discourse. But our Head of State can’t sit and listen while things that he doesn’t like are being said. That is the reason why he has gone back to start attacking the church after apologizing.

As we draw closer to the National Day or Prayer, Fasting and Reconciliation, it is fairly expected that citizens do self-introspection over their deeds and actions during the past year. President Lungu must lead by example. Let him take self-introspection into his life since the last time that he knelt down with other congregants on this day to worship. Has he been consistent with his values? Has he been tolerant of other people’s views without retaliating?

The Church must be very careful when dealing with President Lungu. This man is a politician and wants nothing more from you than support for his prolonged stay in power. Never must you give in to the temptation of replacing any of the three Persons in the Trinity with him. Lungu is not God, he is not the Son and neither is he the Holy Spirit. He is just a citizen like any other Zambian who sins everyday and falls short of the glory of God. If you surrender the Church for him to govern, it’s not Lungu who would have failed God, it’s you.

Our little piece of advice to those church leaders who can’t draw a line between their spiritual calling and politics; please if you have to eat with President Lungu, use a very long spoon, otherwise he will excommunicate you from your calling.