THE three mother bodies, Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) on Friday held a press briefing where they declared that
Zambia is facing a crisis and called for dialogue between the Patriotic Front (PF) and United Party for National Development (UPND).
The declaration by the three church mother bodies comes after the incarceration of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema for alleged treason and suspension of 48 UPND members of Parliament from the House for 30 days.
While we acknowledge that the Church has an important role to play in the affairs of the nation, especially in promoting peace and national unity, we are concerned that the declaration made recently has potential to plunge the country into chaos.
Declaring a national crisis does not only dent the image of the country abroad but has potential to cause an uprising among certain sections of society, much more that such a declaration is made by respected religious leaders in our society.
The declaration made by our church leaders does not only prophesy doom for our country but also raises questions of neutrality.
The Bible in Proverbs 18:21 warns us that the power of life and death is in the tongue, meaning we can either have life or invite death depending on what we say. Job 22:28 also states that you shall decree a thing and it shall be established.
We are therefore concerned and really saddened that respected religious leaders who we expect to understand the Bible better could call for a press conference to declare a crisis in the country when there is none.
If at all there was a crisis, the best the church mother bodies could do is to go in the closet and offer petitions to God on behalf of the country rather than making a declaration before the media.
We would also expect our church leaders to engage Government on the possible solutions privately rather than engaging the media.
This is because we expect the Church to look at the bigger picture of building and unifying the country.
We are therefore left to wonder what the declaration is meant to achieve if not for denting the image of the country and inciting violence.
The church mother bodies also called for dialogue between the Patriotic Front (PF) and UPND.
As far as we are concerned, the Church is better placed to reconcile the two parties by privately engaging them as opposed to calling for dialogue in the media.
To be successful in fostering dialogue, the Church must be seen to be neutral by both sides. This calls for them to look at issues at hand objectively without weighing more on one side.
It is, however, unfortunate that while the church has been calling for dialogue, we have not heard them strongly advise the opposition leader and his members to recognise President Lungu as the duly-elected head of State.
As long as the UPND does not recognise the presidency of Lungu, dialogue will be far-fetched because there is no basis for doing so.
We, therefore, agree with Christian Democratic Party leader Dan Pule’s sentiments that the Church should counsel UPND and its leader to accept and respect President Lungu. This is the starting point for any meaningful dialogue.
And whatever the situation, we expect the Church to have national interest at heart by preaching reconciliation and peace according to its mandate.