ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka
THE Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) has demanded the immediate withdrawal of a statement associating it to calls for the release from prison of an opposition party leader and allegations that Zambia has become a dictatorship.
And the Dean of African Diplomats accredited to Zambia, Balbina Silva, says Zambia is a beacon of peace in Southern Africa and has made positive strides in promoting democracy.
The EFZ has demanded it be disassociated from its purported endorsement of a statement read by Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu at a press briefing last Friday.
Five board members of the EFZ have said the statement, purportedly supported by three church mother bodies, must be withdrawn because they were not part of it.
In a joint statement, Bishop Chrispin Zulu, Bishop Shemmy Makelele, Bishop Martin Kamangala, Reverend Aaron Chilunjika and executive director Pukuta Mwanza said there was no official representation of the EFZ at the press briefing.
“The side-lining of the EFZ secretariat by the other church umbrella bodies (ZCCB and the Council of Churches in Zambia) meant that there was no official representation of EFZ at their joint press conference, hence they should not claim the briefing had the ownership of three church mother bodies,” the church leaders said.
They said instead of working with the secretariat, the conveners chose to work with an individual member of the board of the EFZ ignoring the organisation’s established channels and structures.
The EFZ said it was not in support of the emotional tone which did not reflect the spiritual nature of the church mother body.
The EFZ said that the State of the nation address should have brought together some representatives from the church umbrella bodies for brainstorming and biblical reflection so that the press conference could not have just been a mere desperate cry.
Last Friday, three church mother bodies issued a joint press statement demanding, among other issues, the release of United Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema, who is charged with treason.
Meanwhile, Ms Silva has said Zambians have continued to be peaceful people and should strive to maintain the status quo.
“I am encouraging people to come to Zambia because this is a very peaceful and safe country. Above all, its people are very friendly,” she said in an exclusive interview.
Ms Silva, who is Angolan Ambassador to Zambia, said the onus is on Zambians to keep the peace that they are enjoying now.
She said without peace, there could be no development.
“In Angola, we experienced war and it was very bad for any meaningful development to take place during the time,” she said.
Ms Silva also said Zambia’s democracy, just like any other African country, still has a lot to learn.
She said democracy has to be built just like there was a one-party system before and now there is a multi- party system.