Give dialogue a chance, Church urges politicians

THE three church mother bodies say political leaders must give dialogue a chance.

And the Church says Zambia cannot be peaceful if successive administrations do not take drastic steps to stamp out the endemic corruption among public servants.

Meanwhile, the Church bodies have expressed sadness at the recent outbreak of cholera in the country that has killed over 50.

Speaking at a joint press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops president Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu, Council of Churches in Zambia president Bishop Alfred Kalembo and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia chairperson Bishop Paul Mususu, said despite public pronouncements that Zambia was a peaceful country, the reality on the ground was different due to many acts of injustice, a growing culture of corruption, incidences of violence and utterances out of deep-seated hatred.

The three church leaders, who all read the joint statement, appealed to all political leaders to stop insulting each other or anyone who does not agree with their political opinion and start genuinely to respect fellow political players as legitimate opponents with their constitutional right to hold their political opinion and to propagate it among the general public.

“It demands that all political party leaders declare and enforce zero tolerance to political violence and to bring culprits to book by handing them over to law enforcement institutions. It means that all political leaders must give the planned for ‘national dialogue’ a chance to succeed by committing themselves to dialogue without preconditions with a view to level the playing field. These leaders of political parties must restrain themselves and their members from making inflammatory or irresponsible statements,” the Church stated.

“Peace cannot come to our country if successive administrations do not take drastic steps to stamp out the endemic corruption among public servants which has reached epidemic proportions against the backdrop of the highest poverty index since the dawn of our political independence in 1964.”

They stated that true dialogue means a change of heart, attitude and behavior, and was an on-going process and effort.

“It is the way of life for us Christians, which should be heard in our words, seen in our faces and actions because it is in our hearts. Lack of peace hurts everyone especially the weak, the elderly, the poor, women and children. It hurts us Christians because we are essentially brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ who identifies Himself with the same poor and the suffering,” they stated.

They said they believe in dialogue because it was essential for holistic national development as there cannot be any meaningful development where there is tension and lack of effective as well as peaceful engagement among various groups in the country.

“It is for this reason that we support and wish to contribute and make ourselves available for the restoration of peace in the country through dialogue,” they stated.

The three church mother bodies further stated that it was unacceptable that some public service personnel had amassed enormous wealth in dubious or highly questionable ways and within a short time in the service.

“It is a scandal that year in and year out, the Auditor General’s report reveals hair-raising misapplication and misappropriation of huge sums of public funds by public officers but few, if any culprits, are punished. For how long shall public anger be restrained given the high unemployment levels particularly among young adults?” they asked.

They stated that the source of Christian joy, happiness and peace was the fact that everybody belonged to God and participates in God’s life.

“Therefore, we must respect and reverence each human life and each other as members of God’s household. The greatest gift we Christians can give to the world is the joy and peace proclaimed by the angels. In fact, the birth of Christ marked a definitive reconciliation between humanity and God. Therefore, we are called to live as a reconciled people,” they stated. “In the Bible, peace means love, forgiveness, reconciliation, goodwill and good relationships between people. This is the good news meant for people of all races, pigmentation, religions, tribes, political affiliation and ideologies. This is the peace we wish for our nation Zambia. However, there can be no peace without justice at personal as well as at all levels of society.”

Meanwhile, the church bodies have expressed sadness at the recent outbreak of cholera in Lusaka and other parts of the country and the loss of over 50 people from the epidemic.

“Our hearts go to the many families who have lost their loved ones from the disease. We pray for God’s peace, comfort and encouragement during this time of national crisis. We pray for the various teams working on the ground to fight the cholera outbreak so that this may be overcome quickly and life may be restored to normal. We support the efforts of other stakeholders in this battle against cholera and pledge ourselves to collaborate with government in addressing the epidemic,” stated the three Church bodies.

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