Editor's Comment

Church should uphold unifier role

ZAMBIA is coming from a general election which has inevitably left the nation divided. This is because during the run-up to elections, citizens belong to various political parties for one reason or the other. Elections reflect the views of the majority and only one political party can emerge victorious.
When results are declared, one political party is given the mandate to manage the affairs of the nation for a certain period. In Zambia, the election cycle runs for five years – meaning that the winning political party will govern the country for five years. Due to the nature of the country’s political governance system, it is a winner-takes-all kind of affair, meaning that losers will be spectators for five years. A lot goes into preparations for elections. People invest money, materials and emotions going into elections, especially a general election. A loss means that candidates and their supporters will be counting the dis-investment of their participation in the elections. There is also the feeling of humiliation on the part of the losing parties. Yet, it should not be the case because politics is a competition of ideas and participation in elections enhances the nation’s democracy. In the aftermath of elections, it is important for every citizen to pat themselves on the back for nurturing democracy. If there is an institution which is well placed to help the nation in post-election healing, it is the Church. The Church draws its membership from all political parties and understands its followers very well. That is why church leadership is expected to be apolitical. The same way religion plays an important role in peace-making and conflict prevention and resolution is the same way the Church should do it before, during and after elections. People should have somewhere to run to in times of trouble. The Church in Zambia has been known to oppose repression. Rather, it promotes peace and reconciliation. Church and religious leaders and their institutions can serve as a tonic in the post-election period in the same manner they mediate in conflict situations. The Church should always serve as a bridge between opposing sides and continue its peace-making missions. That is why President Hakainde Hichilema urged the Church to take a leading role in promoting unity of purpose among Zambians because doing so will complement Government’s agenda of revamping the economy and improving the lives of all citizens. President Hichilema is aware that the Church is a unifier. The country needs the apostolic voice of the Church now more than ever before. The Church should not shy away from its noble role of promoting unity in the country by creating a strong sense of common or shared values. In an era in which the losing party and its members could still be in denial, the Church can pacify the situation.
When it plays its role of ensuring that peace is attained, Government will find it easy to deliver development to every corner of the country. Sustainable development and economic recovery can only take place in a country where there is peace and unity. The church mother bodies have an apostolic role of ensuring that peace and unity are achieved by harmonising their members from the different political divides or churches.

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