By Emelia Phiri
FORMER Lusaka Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu says the PF government has done more harm than good.
The Catholic priest hopes in 2021 the nation will be able to elect another government.
Archbishop Mpundu is of the view that the Ministry National Guidance and Religious Affairs is useless.
Featuring on Hot FM’s ‘Hot Seat’ programme yesterday, he said Zambia is supposed to be a democracy where divergent views from the people are expected.
“Divergent views started way back from the time of [Dr Kenneth] Kaunda. A democracy is a place where people should be able to exchange views. As a religious person, I am free to speak about any topic and not being labelled a cadre,” Archbishop Mpundu said. “The truth should be said and nothing but the truth. When we elect people to lead us, to govern us, we expect them to do the needful and if they are not doing the needful, how much powers do people have, especially during elections… [We] Only to hope that the next election we are going to put another government. Do you think people have that power to pull down a government? The government has everything; the police, the army, the paramilitary, they have everyone. Do you think you can go and arrest one of the ministers that ‘you did not do this’, no? People can protest and protest but they are not allowed to protest. Can you protest by going to the streets? They will shoot you down and that is that. It is very sad.”
He said the people elected to lead the nation were the ones who were supposed to make state institutions function properly.
“But you know, they are the ones who are the stumbling block,” Archbishop Mpundu noted.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Mpundu said the Church already had ways and means of engaging with the government.
“This Ministry of Religious Affairs is useless for me. We relate for example, with Ministry of Education, [Ministry of] Health and so on and so forth and putting another ministry like Ministry of Religious Affairs is useless. The Ministry of Religious Affairs is also connected to the national day of prayer. It comes from there,” Archbishop Mpundu said. “We were told some years back and then, that there is a place where the President goes presiding with the military chaplain. This is my observation shared by many that the President has no right to tell people when to go and pray, how they should pray. He has no authority. Why he did that we don’t know and it is because he is politician. He should leave that to us. And there is this prayer and fasting. What kind of prayer and fasting is that? For us it is very strange because there is prayer and fasting, the things we need to do is whilst that prayer and fasting is taking place we need to dialogue, ironically. But that is not the case. The recent prayer and fasting people were starving to death in the country. That is an insult to the Christians. We have told the President that we don’t need these prayers. What we need is for everyone to go to their respective churches and pray. We don’t need the President in our prayers to tell us what to do. The National Day of Prayers and Fasting is a circus in my opinion.”
On US Ambassador Daniel Foote’s comment on the imprisoned gay couple and the government reaction, Archbishop Mpundu said Zambia belonged to the international community.
“Zambia is not an island. The degree of democracy means rule of law. Life is sacred and the death penalty is not right. If it’s wrong for one person to kill, it means even the state cannot kill,” said Archbishop Mpundu. “…Round up all the people committing homosexuality and sexual offences. The 15 years for that gay couple, do you think its correction really? Why don’t they round up everyone committing sexual offences? What is important is to sit done and look at our laws. Are these laws just. The opinion by the Ambassador was reasonable. People are suffering because of corruption, people die, children are not going to school, and do we have anyone who was punished because of corruption? No. The government has done more harm than good.”