JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
IN A reconciliatory tone, the Catholic Church and Government have both delivered strong messages pledging to work together.
Archbishop of Lusaka Telesphore Mpundu said the Catholic Church is ready to work with Government to reduce poverty.
Speaking at celebrations to mark the end of the year-long commemoration of 125 years of the Catholic Church in Zambia at the Show Grounds yesterday, Archbishop Mpundu asked Vice-President Inonge Wina, who graced the occasion, to convey a special message to President Lungu from the church, pledging its support.
“We are all ready to work with the government to reduce the poverty of this country,” Bishop Mpundu said.
He added: “We are partners and we wish well for our Government. It is our Government and we want them to succeed.”
Bishop Mpundu also asked Mrs Wina to tell President Lungu that the Catholic Church in Zambia will “take up its responsibility [of] being a beacon of unity among the various tribes of Zambia.”
“The many tribes that we have is not a curse, it’s a singular blessing,” said Bishop Mpundu, who is also president of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He said the congregants who had gathered for the celebrations felt honoured and supported to have the Vice-President in their midst.
The national event drew hundreds of the Catholic faithful from around the country, and was characterised by song and dance.
And Mrs Wina said the Catholic Church’s voice, though critical at times, is vital to Government.
“Your moral voice, which at times is critical, is still vital to us in Government. Be assured that we do listen, believing that yours is a voice to speak for the voiceless and that as you speak out, you are also alerting us of the situation on the ground, since you are always there with the people,” she said.
She added: “My message to the Catholic Church is that we should be treated as one family, irrespective of our political affiliations, different ideologies or even backgrounds. Continue to preach peach to all Zambians, since all of us need peace. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ left us with one command – to love one another.”
Ms Wina pledged Government’s support to efforts by the Catholic Church to help the poor.
“I wish to assure you gathered here today, including the entire Catholic community in our country, that the government will continue to partner with and support the Catholic Church in its endeavours and we will together deliver the much-needed social service to our people,” she said.
Mrs Wina praised the church for its fight for social justice and for being a voice for the voiceless.
She said the Catholic Church has continued to be a strong and reliable partner for Government in development.
Mrs Wina said the Catholic Church played an important role at the peak of the HIV/AIDS scourge by setting up hospices to take care of the sick.
Mrs Wina also noted the pivotal role played by the church in lobbying for debt cancelation over a decade ago.
She also cited the church’s vigorous push against former President Frederick Chiluba’s third term bid, among its notable efforts.
At the close of the event, Archbishop Mpundu presented a gift to Mrs Wina.
And Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo has directed the Zambia Correctional Service to work with the Church and civic authorities to facilitate the reintegration of former inmates into society, reports KELVIN MBEWE in Lusaka.
Mr Kampyongo said there can be no meaningful change by inmates without the Church and other stakeholders such as society.
And MIKE MUGALA reports that Mr Kampyongo, who is also PF national youth chairperson, handed K75,000 to Kanyama constituency as youth development fund.
He urged youths in the PF to be law-abiding and to work with the police in maintaining law and order in the country.