ZAMBIA Civic Education Association executive director Judith Mulenga says the national day of prayer that falls today is instituted mainly to sample President Edgar Lungu’s popularity.
Mulenga said by disguising President Lungu as a God-fearing leader, it could be concluded that the number of people who turn up for the event should be “counted as the President’s flock and not God’s flock.”
She said the usual vilification echo from the PF government’s sympathisers that ‘those that refuse to attend national prayers cannot become national leaders’ should not be entertained since there is no such a requirement in Article 100 of the Republican Constitution under “Qualifications of a President.”
Zambians tomorrow, October 18, observes a national holiday for ‘prayer’ declared by President Lungu some three years ago.
In a press statement yesterday, Mulenga argued that conducting or organising national prayers was not an executive function neither was it a legislative nor judicial function.
She, however, mockingly ‘thanked’ the State for the holiday.
Mulenga stated that minister of the so-called National Guidance and Religious Affairs Reverend Godfridah Sumaili was the one that had politicised the national day of prayer because she and President Lungu who instituted it were politicians and for that it was unavoidably politicised.
“Praying is a civil liberty and a matter of one’s conscience in the same line as other civil liberties such as freedoms of thought, expression, assembly and association [and] therefore to be exercised at one’s desire. That is why Article 19, the right to freedom of conscience, thought and religion sits in part three of our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and not in part five, representation of the people, or part seven, executive authority, of the Constitution,” she stated. “Besides, we all know why it was instituted in the first place; to place President Lungu as a God-fearing leader and since then it has been used as a form of opinion poll or approval rating of the President by the number of people that turn up being counted as the President’s flock and not God’s flock. In its general comment number 22 on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the Human Rights Committee that supervises the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Zambia ratified in 1984 and from which our Article 19 in our Bill of Rights is drawn, categorically guides that one of the obligations of the State should be to prohibit any manifestation of religion or belief practices that may lead to incitement of discrimination, hostility or violence against any group of people refusing to be part thereof. Therefore, we do not want to hear overt or implied vilification of groups of people that choose to stay away from these national prayers. But thanks for the holiday!”
Mulenga stated further that in case someone thought of accusing her of promoting un-constitutionalism, there was nothing unconstitutional about it.
She stated that the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation sat in the preamble of the Constitution and not in the substantive guarantees.
Mulenga stated that this year’s prayers would be: “The hollowest, the most fake and the emptiest since these prayers started.”
“In fact, the PF government needs to seek God’s forgiveness for turning this country into the hungriest, most indebted, most police brutal, most intolerant country since independence. As the PF lull Zambians’ frustrations, hopelessness and helplessness in the prayers reminiscent of Karl Marx’s maxim of religion being the opium of the oppressed, they need to remember that Lesa nimalyotola and His name cannot be used in vain,” she stated. “Ask God’s forgiveness for presiding over the most corrupt, most scruple-less, most insensitive, most un-empathetic, most thieving ‘long fingered’ government this country has ever seen.”
And Mulenga hopes President Lungu can scrap-off the “obsolescent” Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs as part of the austerity measures.
“The President should exercise his constitutional powers under Article 92(2) (d) that gives him the prerogative to establish, merge or to dissolve government ministries to scrap it as part of the austerity measures. Look, it has even failed to educate this national on just Article eight of our Constitution on national values,” she stated. “He could also consider making it a directorate under the Ministry of Traditional Affairs or annex it to the first lady’s charities. The Ministry is on mute when Vespers Shimuzhila is senselessly killed by State agents. The ministry is conspicuously mute when funds meant to help the poor or for effectively running the government are stolen but wants to come alive on October 18th! Which Christians are these that will probably be chauffeur-driven, pass children who may be begging or selling water or ice-blocks to bring income into their families condemned into cycles of poverty through corruption, blatant theft, extravagance and weak institutions of governance, but will fall to their knees and lift their faces to the Lord in fake supplication?”
Mulenga stated that propaganda against opposition political parties based on religious grounds did not fall into the realm of Article 60 parts two and three of the Constitution which made provisions for what political parties needed to do and not do.
“We also do not want to hear the usual vilification echo of ‘those that refuse to attend national prayers cannot become national leaders,’ since there is no such requirement in Article 100 of our Constitution on Qualifications of a President. Let the people decide! Do not decide for them whom to elect and the qualities therein reside with us the people. For the rest of us, our responsibilities under Article 43 of our Constitution which prescribes “Responsibilities of a Citizen,” there is nothing about attending national prayers but to pay taxes, being patriotic, promoting harmony, protecting and conserving the environment, providing national security and defence when called upon to do so, among others,” stated Mulenga.