Council of Churches in Zambia says the Patriotic Front government must stop unleashing venom on people who are opposed to their rule because Zambia does not belong to them alone.
Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) president Bishop Alfred Kalembo stated that the arrest of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema on a treason charge could not pass without serious reflection of which way Zambia should go.
“The deep, joyous and prayerful reflections of the Holy week have been marred by the sad developments on the political scene. We have sadly observed that during this period, opportunity was taken by the government and the police to overshadow the real reason for Easter Season. The events of the last few days in our beloved country Zambia cannot pass without serious reflection of which way do we want to go Zambia and what vision do we hold dearly as God’s people. The Council of Churches in Zambia is very troubled and disturbed at the unfolding lawlessness, impunity and shear madness of the decisions being made in this country i.e. the police, the political bureau and the entire political leadership,” Bishop Kalembo stated. “Our understanding of the nature of God’s plans and desires is that people may live in peace and harmony and that they teach their children the values and ethics by which to live by. We passionately appeal to those in power who, without mercy and grace, are unleashing their venom on people who are opposed to their machinations. This country does not belong to the ruling party the Patriotic Front. This is God’s country and it belongs to all the people in it from all ethnic groups, race, creed and tribe. The militarization of civil policy is frightening. To think that law, order and peace can only be enforced by guns and machetes is an affront to democracy and justice and an offense to humanity.”
He stated that CCZ was worried that the leadership and management of fear being exhibited by the PF government would destroy the country.
“Instead of the people in power concentrating on improving the lives of people, they are spending valuable resources in silencing, imprisoning, de-motivating, demoralising and killing the spirit of unity in diversity. It is not long ago that a young, bright, professional ZAF officer [Flight Sergeant Mark Choongwa] was brutally murdered in police custody needlessly for committing a menial traffic offence which could have been resolved amicably according to the laws of this nation but his life was taken away for expedience by people who were supposed to protect him in the first place. Woe to Zambia. We condemn this in the strongest terms,” Bishop Kalembo stated. “Again, we are concerned about the political intimidation of the legitimately elected leadership of the Law Association of Zambia for carrying out their duty and mandate, again in order to silence a voice of reason. The saga continues to silence the private media who offer a platform for much needed divergent views in the nation and private media which offers space for the voice of the voiceless. The arresting of political opponents, the traumatizing of their families thereby building in those children and spouses a spirit of revenge does not help the future of this nation.”
He further noted that the police’s transfer of their negligence to Hichilema over what happened in Mongu was inexcusable.
“How possible is it that Hakainde Hichilema’s motorcade could have been on that road without police clearance? From the clip that the world saw, it is clear that Hakainde’s motorcade did their best to give way to President Lungu’s motorcade. It is on record that other similar incidents occurred to President Rupiah Banda in Solwezi where he was blocked by PF cadres but the opposition leader was not charged with treason. The question is what law is being followed in HH’s incidence. Besides HH was an invitee of the Barotseland Royal Establishment through the KUTA in Limulunga and had every right to drive on the road to the event. It was the Police’s responsibility to control traffic on that road and ensure that all motorists, including the president, travel safely,” Bishop Kalembo stated. “We note from historical records that HH has always responded to police call outs. Why was he not called to explain himself like he has always dutifully done but instead the police went to his house, damaged his property, stole food, money and traumatized his family? The CCZ wants to put on record their dismay and their fear for the future of Zambia. And unless our leadership asserts good leadership, recognising that Zambia belongs to all Zambians and also recognize the right of all people to speak freely, to move freely, we are on our way to a Zambia which we would have destroyed with our own hands.”
He stated that Zambia needed healing and reconciliation rather than confrontation which ignited frustration.
“Healing and reconciliation should be led by the President, the father of the nation. It does not matter who agrees or not agree with him. The President has a responsibility to Zambia to ensure unity is a reality in Zambia and that him being the President he has nothing to lose by rising to the occasion and to call for dialogue and to enforce unity in diversity. That is the whole mark of good leadership. Christian teaching clearly shows that everything rises and falls according to the leadership of the moment,” stated Bishop Kalembo. “The renowned Nigerian writer and poet, Chinua Achebe, writes in one of his books that ‘the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or anything else’. This has become increasingly true of our Zambia.”