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Zambia not Christian nation, we just claim to be – Mpundu

EMERITUS archbishop Telesphore Mpundu of Lusaka Archdiocese says the “shameful” Bill No. 10 should have been correctly called Bill third term for Lungu.

He also argues that Zambia is not a Christian nation.

Archbishop Mpundu stresses that people should not be dithering around but call the current regime what it is – a dictatorship in everything, except in name.

He was speaking on The Assignment programme hosted by Andrew Mwansa on Muvi TV on Sunday evening.

Archbishop Mpundu branded the contentious Bill No. 10 as shameful.

“[It’s] shameful for many reasons. First of all, why is it that every administration that comes to State House wants to change the Constitution in order to perpetuate themselves in power? This is wrong!” Archbishop Mpundu said. “They are tampering with the Constitution in order to perpetuate themselves in power. They will be remaining there to continue maladministration in this country. It is a shameful bill! That Bill 10 they should have simply called it Bill third term [because] they want to give a third term to Lungu.”

He pointed out that President Edgar Lungu had already been elected twice and therefore, ineligible to contest for the presidency for a third time.

The clergyman noted that a law that was made to benefit a person or a small group or even a big group of people against others was right from the word go wrong.

“That’s what it is! What they see in that (Bill 10) is not only to perpetuate Lungu in State House but also it is designed in a way such that perhaps one person among those who are aspiring to become [presidential] candidates will be disqualified. It is criminal!” Archbishop Mpundu said. “So, it is a shameful bill [and] it should be withdrawn. Anyone who has been elected twice as President of the Republic of Zambia cannot run for a [third time]. This is what has happened to Lungu; (being elected twice). So, he is not eligible.”

Archbishop Mpundu added that Bill 10 would sow seeds of dissention, especially after the August 2021 elections.

“That is what happened [with] the disputed elections, the last ones. What happened to HH (Hakainde Hichilema)? Things like that might happen again,” he cautioned. “It is unfortunate [that] we have lost an opportunity to dialogue. Everything was in place after the Commonwealth people came here…People are taking the peace that we have in this country for granted. It is something that has been hard won but now it will be destroyed.”

He also recalled that recently, there was an incident when the Bishops’ conference sent a pastoral statement concerning Bill 10 where they criticised it.

“They said it should be withdrawn because it brings retrogressive and divisive elements. What happened? A group of people calling themselves Catholic parliamentarians reacted and said ‘no, it is wrong.’ It is unprecedented that Christians will tell the Bishops who are teaching from authoritative documents of the Church and the social teaching of the Church, that what you said is wrong,” Archbishop Mpundu noted. “If I were in the position now, I would say the leadership of this Catholic parliamentarians should resign. It has never happened…I would at least tell them for the time being, don’t use the name Catholic, because it is a scandal.”

Archbishop Mpundu further underscored that no politician would tell him that he was interfering in politics.

He said politics was his duty.

“I’m also a politician [but] I’m not seeking political power. I have the intelligence given to me by God. No one is going to frighten me that you are coming into politics,” Archbishop Mpundu said.

“Yes, politics is my business and I want to see politics done in the proper way. I’m not seeking political power. What would I seek political power for?”

He continued; “no one is going to say ‘you are being fronted or you are a hired gun.’”

“Do you think it’s so easy to hire me? I’m not a hired one and I’m not a gun. I’m a human being – a Christian, a priest and a Bishop and nobody is going to tell me you shouldn’t do this. No!” Archbishop Mpundu stressed.

He further explained that personally, he was not so enthusiastic about: “some of our brothers and sisters in the Christian area today who will say Zambia is a Christian nation.”

“No! Zambia is not a Christian nation. This is not a theocracy! Zambia is not a theocracy [but] a democracy – at least we want it to be a democracy. Right now it is not because all the elements are pointing to a dictatorial regime in everything, except in name,” he explained.

Asked what he meant by saying Zambia was not a Christian nation, the archbishop answered that: “you don’t make a nation Christian by a declaration.”

“It was done by Frederick Chiluba [and] a group of people who belong to a very militant kind of Christianity. I told Chiluba, he must be turning in his grave, when we went to State House in one of those meetings with the President. I said ‘where did you consult other Christian bodies?’” Archbishop Mpundu recalled. “It just came one day [and] we were declared a Christian nation. I said that is wrong! You don’t make a Christian nation by declaration. It is what you do [and] how you behave…We are not a Christian nation [but] we just claim to be a Christian nation.”

He also charged that Zambia had descended into a dictatorship because institutions of government had been corrupted by the Executive and not doing their work.

“This is not a democracy at all! This is a dictatorship in everything, except [in] name. That is it! There are no two ways about it. People should not be going around beating about the bush; this is the situation,” Archbishop Mpundu said.

Meanwhile, asked what Zambians should bear in mind as they go out to vote in 12 months’ time, Archbishop Mpundu responded that: “they have seen what has been going on.”

“All administrations have to be judged by their actions. This country is in a crisis – crisis of leadership, crisis of the economy. Putting people at loggerheads – tribalism and so on and so forth,” noted Archbishop Mpundu. “Is this a government they want to continue? Let them ask themselves sincerely. Corruption, mamama! So, [they should ask themselves if] this is the government they want to continue with or they need a big break.”

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