Minister of Religious Affairs Reverend Godfridah Sumaili says government is concerned with reports of violence, riots and ritual murders in Chingola and that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence have been tasked to investigate and intervene.

During a press briefing at her office on Thursday last week, Rev Sumaili said to further remedy the situation in Chingola, government is directing churches, intercessors and families to arise and pray for riots and killings to end in the mining town.

“We are all aware that in the recent past, the nation has been engulfed in fear, anxiety and confusion because of the alleged ritual killings and attacks on the Copperbelt. And some people have taken advantage of this situation and caused violence and riots. The government has been very concerned about this very unfortunate situation. As the defence wings are investigating this matter, we need spiritual intervention for God to guide us and to intervene in this situation. The Ministry of Religious Affairs is calling for a battle cry of prayers by the people. Let us invoke our covenant as a Christian nation and call upon the name of the Lord in unison and in agreement. I am calling for effective and fervent prayers from the children of God. I am calling upon the churches, intercessors, families and all peace-loving Zambians to arise and pray. Actually, this Saturday, there is an organised prayer rally in Chiwempala in Chingola where the various churches are going to come together and pray for that area so that we can have some peace,” said Rev Sumaili.

We must commend the minister for calling on all peace-loving Zambians to pray for the country. Indeed, our country needs God’s guidance and intervention. Citizens are in dire need of comfort, and the Bible in 2 Corinthians 1:3 tells us to praise God for He is the Father of compassion and source of all comfort. Rev Sumaili is in order to call upon citizens to turn to God and seek his wisdom on how to deal with this problem.

But our opinion is that while we ask God to intervene in the turmoil in Chingola, we must not forget to inquire into what has led to this situation. In our view, most of the problems existing in Chingola and other Copperbelt mining towns are man-made. What we are seeing in Chingola are simply symptoms of a much bigger problem called HUNGER. People in Chingola, like all the other mining towns, survive on mining activities. They are hardworking and resilient, yet they are not good farmers. Their primary source of livelihood is the mining industry.

If we look critically at what has happened to Chingola in the past one year or so, it cannot be in dispute that the source of these people’s livelihoods has been destabilised. Jobs are being lost at an alarming rate. Government has taken over operations of the biggest mining company, Konkola Copper Mine, which employs over 15,000 citizens, and now only a selected few who are connected to the powers that be are enjoying. Experts are saying there is no money in circulation on the Copperbelt, specifically in Chingola, and as if that was not bad enough, another mine, Chambeshi Metals, has also failed to cope with the harsh economy and has shut down, leaving over 229 employees jobless and hundreds of thousands affected.

Our point is that all these problems were created by man and we all know who this particular man is. This is a man who prioritised comfort and chose to buy himself a very expensive luxury jet while the citizens of Chingola were asking him to fix the economy. So given the background of the situation on the Copperbelt, assembling prayers against the ritual murders, looting and riots in Chingola may appear illogical.

Problems created by man must be solved by man himself using wisdom from God. This problem that is happening in Chingola has very little to do with spiritual or moral deficit. It is not a question of how close to God the people of Chingola are. It has everything to do with how hungry, angry and depressed citizens are. The theft, looting and robbing one another is just a simple and straight forward statement to government authorities that “we feel neglected and frustrated, we are hungry and we want to eat”. We can assure anyone that if jobs were plenty and the economy was booming on the Copperbelt, riots and the so-called ritual murders would not be heard. So, yes, we can go ahead and pray but it will not change anything because the problem was created by one greedy and unrepentant man.

And we would like to use this opportunity to remind the Minister of Religious Affairs that in the next few weeks, this man who has caused problems on the Copperbelt, and also happens to be her appointing authority, will be going to Parliament to discuss national values. As he is discussing those national values this time, he needs to know that lying is a sin.

This man is only one year to elections, he promised people that he would create one million jobs, but instead, parastatals are shedding jobs. Let Rev Sumaili take time to inculcate good morals and uproot the spirit of lying in her appointing authority before he goes to exhibit his hypocrisy in Parliament. This man and his government promised the people in Chingola that there shall be no job losses in the mines, but this is happening. He lied to KCM employees that a new investor would be brought to Chingola before the end of July 2019, but this is now the end of January 2020, and there is no investor. He lied because he is a liar.

We have recordings of the Head of State speaking in Mozambique where he assured the people of Chingola that with Vedanta Resources gone, KCM will be oozing with milk and honey under a new investor. He fooled the people into believing that he had the power to chase away an investor and bring in another one without being questioned. Today, KCM has been looted, ransacked and its assets are being stripped. Today, PF bosses and ministers are sharing contracts, conniving with the Chinese and selling dumpsites to themselves. Left with nowhere else to run, the citizens have resorted to rioting and stealing. Even the Jerabos who used to splash money on social media are now splashing guns in fury because they are desperate and hungry. And and someone should tell them to kneel down and pray? How?

As we already put it, there is nothing wrong with prayer, but a person who opens his mouth towards heaven expecting a sandwich to drop from above will only get a bird’s droppings at the very most if he’s lucky. Solutions to man-made problems are aways right next to us. According to Exodus 4:2, God always gives us the wisdom to use what is in our hands to overcome challenges.
The guns and the military personnel repatriated to Chingola will not fix the hunger and frustrations facing the people. It may quell the current unrest, but as long as people stomachs are left empty, riots and looting will resume.