MY VIEWPOINT with JACK ZIMBA
ONE of the greatest, and definitely the most sobering, lessons we must all learn from the August 12 elections is that God does not take part in our small, usually narrow-minded, political games. But again, politicians never learn, as witnessed on the Day of Prayer on Monday, where the former President Edgar Lungu, who is in fact the architect of the day, decided to ignore the invitation to the main gathering and instead secretly went to a small gathering in the corner of town to observe the day. ECL is repeating the same conduct for which his successor Hakainde Hichilema was labelled a Satanist not too long ago. He and his followers now stand aloof because their God is no longer in power. Yes, the former president’s appearing at a small gathering in the corner of town was nothing but a political move to save face, although those in the PF will want to justify it. This only goes to show that the architect of this day did not truly believe in its purpose in the first place, but the political gain it brought him. If indeed this day mattered then, it should matter now. What has changed? And the thing is that if politicians cannot bury their differences and meet at the altar, or at least bring their differences to the altar, then we might as well cancel the Day of Prayer and forget about any reconciliation. But we must not forget that this nation needs healing more than anything else. It has developed enough fault lines over the years to cause it to disintegrate. God knows why it is still standing. We, therefore, cannot continue tearing it along religious, political or ethnic lines. What is sad is that for a long time the Church, which has always played a reconciliatory role, allowed itself to be used as a pawn in these political games, and surrendered the pulpit to politicians in exchange for huge offerings. Of course there is a history to this, and as they say, history repeats itself. It all started with former president Frederick Chiluba who, after declaring Zambia as a Christian nation in 1992, would later try to use God to push for an illegal third term in office. I remember how deeply divided the Church was on the matter, and those who were opposed were seen as enemies of God who were opposing his plan by rejecting the man He had anointed to lead the nation. This political game repeated itself in the run-up to the August 12 elections, where the church was polarised and in many instances allowed politicians to use the pulpit to attack their political opponents. Politicians hopped from one church to the next making huge donations of cash and other gifts, which were followed by endorsements from the clergy. Anointing oil was poured on those God had chosen and they were presented as saints, while their rivals were demonised. On that score, many clergy and congregants are themselves guilty of electoral malpractice. In fact the Anti-Corruption Commission will do well to extend the fight against corruption to the clergy. Some of the donations we saw was purely vote buying. I don’t remember any church that refused the gifts, they all shouted loud hallelujahs. The thing is, does not God weigh our motives before He judges our actions? Yet no church questioned the source of money their benefactors were lavishing on them, or why they had become very generous months before Christmas. And so gathering for prayers is good, but the Church itself needs cleansing for what it allowed itself to become – a mere pawn on the political chess board. While the clergy pointed out the sins of the nation on the Day of Prayer, they must also take a deep introspection and see whether or not they themselves are not culpable of the offences they name.
We had men of God who proclaimed that God had anointed Edgar Lungu as President and, therefore, everyone must vote for him in order to respect God’s wish. And those who tried to speak against the ‘anointed one’ were told to shut up and leave God’s chosen one alone. I remember how Bishop Joe Imakando of Bread of Life International was attacked for simply pointing out the truth about the state of our nation. And yet the church must always stand for truth, such that when the politicians depart from it, the church should be able to speak out. I also remember how self-styled prophets heard the voice of God in no unclear terms – so they claimed – rumbling the name Edgar. Alas, the people, in flagrant disobedience against God, chose Bally. The Great One must be very angry with us as a nation. This whole scenario has weakened the once strong voice of the Church; it has become subdued because others found it profitable to play in the hands of those in political power. The church must now redeem itself and regain its position by rising above partisan politics. No longer must the clergy surrender the pulpit to politicians. If politicians attend church service, they should stay in the pews.
The church must regain its prophetic voice and speak for the voiceless in society without taking sides because God does not play political games. It reminds me of the story of Joshua before he went to war against Jericho and the angel of the Lord appeared before him. He asked the angel “Are you for us or for our enemies?” And the angel answered “Neither.”
Yes, God is neither for UPND nor for PF; He is neither for HH nor for ECL. And just a reminder to the politicians, God and religion can no longer be used as a trump card, Zambians now pray with their eyes open. For comments email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, WhatsApp line 0979309545
MY VIEWPOINT with JACK ZIMBA