PROVIDED churches continue with the attitude of favouring or opposing particular candidates or political leaders, political tension and violence will never end, says Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba.
In an interview, Sinkamba said churches were inflaming tension and competition between PF and UPND by favouring or opposing the leaders of the two parties. The Kitwe-based opposition leader noted that one group of churches constantly invites PF leaders to speak and donate in their churches while the other does exactly the same to UPND leaders.
He added that it was wrong for churches to turn their pulpits into political forums with only leaders from the two political parties given the front row seats.
“You see, in Zambia there are several political leaders. However, only leaders from the two political parties are given the front row or what I may term as the VIP row to sit when they go to church. If it is not President Lungu addressing one congregation, then it is Hakainde Hichilema addressing the other. Only leaders from the two political parties are given an opportunity to address the congregants or lead congregants into hymns. This is utterly wrong and needs to be stopped forthwith because not only is it discriminatory but also has fuelled tension and competition between PF and UPND. The leaders of the two parties are now in competition as to who offers more money so that he is given an opportunity to speak or sing in one church or the other and given the privilege to sit on the front row,” Sinkamba said.
He further said churches should not favour or oppose particular candidates or leaders holding political office.
“Actually there must be a ban on politicking and electioneering in church,” Sinkamba said.
He also said while the Constitution of Zambia provides for freedom of worship, it does not provide for discrimination.
Sinkamba lamented that providing a platform and special treatment for leaders of only two political parties in church in Zambia when there were several parties was discriminatory and contravened the constitution.
“Whilst the Constitution provides for freedom of worship, I think it is high time that we amended it to ban politicking and electioneering in churches. It is high time that we set principles of separation of church from the State and politics. The justification for the amendment is simple. Our tax system provides for exemption of churches from paying taxes. It therefore goes without saying that all tax-exempt organisations should be prohibited from supporting or opposing political leaders and candidates. The same should be the case with cultural or traditional issues,” said Sinkamba.