KELVIN CHONGO, KELVIN MBEWE, Lusaka
THE Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the United Church of Zambia (UCZ) have distanced themselves from a joint press conference by three church mother bodies dubbed ‘State of the nation’ which contended that Zambia is in a crisis.
Catholic Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu, at a press conference on Friday, read a statement which likened Zambia to a dictatorship and that it is difficult for the United Party for National Development (UPND) to recognise President Lungu’s election.
The statement was said to be a joint position of the Council of Churches in Zambia, the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ).
But EFZ vice-chairperson Bishop Peter Ndhlovu distanced his organisation from the statement, saying they were not consulted, and therefore the EFZ board is not part of the decision.
Bishop Ndhlovu said the statement has potential to cause anarchy in the country.
He said the Church’s role is to preach and promote peace and not to allegedly fan divisions as reflected in the ‘State of the nation’ statement.
Bishop Ndhlovu said the country has one duly elected President who was mandated through a fair election that all mother bodies observed, and thus, he should be respected.
“It is a total misconception and fabrication to allege that the country is under a dictatorship siege,” he said.
He said President Lungu has shown qualities of a good democratic leader and those accusing him of being a dictator are doing it out of their own interests.
The UCZ has also distanced itself from the drafting or issuing of the statement.
UCZ Synod Bishop Reverend Sydney Sichilima said in an interview that UCZ was not aware of it and did not take part.
“We were in Kabwe and we just read these things in the media. We are still trying to consult within ourselves as UCZ because we feel if matters are in court, we may be cited for contempt of court,” he said.
He said the church is reserved to comment or debate on matters that are being handled by the court.
Rev Bishop Sichilima said the UCZ is praying for the preservation of unity in the nation in the spirit of one Zambia, one nation.
Meanwhile, Economic and Equity Party (EEP) leader Chilufya Tayali has advised the three church mother bodies that called Zambia a dictatorship to take a different approach to airing their grievances rather than exacerbating the situation.
Mr Tayali says the Church must take a neutral stance rather than taking sides.
He said this in an interview yesterday.
“The point is that the three church mother bodies should have taken a different approach, it was rather sensitive to address the issue in that manner.
“It’s like what is happening right now, I have the archbishop’s number yet am talking to you,” he said.
Mr Tayali said the church mother bodies should have engaged President Lungu privately.
“I am not criticising them, if I do so I would be making the same mistake they made. We need to find the best way to handle such sensitive issues,” he said.
And Mr Tayali has advised the UPND to clearly state what they want.
“They have not said what they want. Their counterparts the PF have come out in the open that they want to be recognised as duly elected,” he said.
And Catholic diocese of Ndola Bishop Alick Banda says there is no crisis in Zambia.
Bishop Banda said the crisis being portrayed by sections of the media is imaginary.