A Press Statement of the Three Church Mother Bodies on Violence
“Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a robbers’ den” (Jn 2:16).
We the three Christian Church Umbrella Bodies namely: the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) are deeply saddened at the rampant political violence that has popped its ugly face in Zambia once again.
This violence has now moved from the political arena into the house of God! What happened recently at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is unprecedented and a great shame to this God-fearing nation.
We issue this statement as Churches because it cannot be business as usual. That the violence was spearheaded by the Patriotic Front (PF) cadres who only a few months ago were on the receiving end of such violence makes us wonder if this is truly the change Zambians wanted.
The manner of the violence, at the Cathedral, suggests pre-meditated and planned behaviour. This is evil and wrong.
The Church is of the considered view that political parties need to take full responsibility of the behaviour of their party cadres. It is, after all, the politicians who control the cadres. The violence is carried out in the name of their political party and that of its top leadership.
We are deeply dissatisfied as Church mother bodies with the reactions from the PF leadership. What we have heard so far is too little, too late and very half-hearted indeed. Feeble reactions such as what we have heard send a wrong message to cadres. We expected robust condemnation from the ruling party. The PF as the party in Government needs to demonstrate that it is a party that does not condone violence, even under extreme provocation. The PF party can afford to be magnanimous. Doing so will endear them to the wider Zambian public.
On the other hand, we call upon the leadership of the Zambia Police Service to be non-partisan and execute their duties of maintaining law and order in a professional manner. We feel extremely let down by our men and women in uniform.
The Police should uphold the law at all times regardless of who the perpetrators are. They do not need instigation from indignant mourners to perform their tasks. Theirs is a very noble task entrusted to them by Zambians. Furthermore, we request politicians, especially those in Government, to give space to our Police Service to execute their tasks without undue political pressure.
On our part as Church mother bodies, we are resolved to remain non-partisan and we take some delight and pride in bringing people from all walks of life and political persuasions together. We are committed to providing time and space for all Zambians to reason and pray together in the spirit of “One Zambia, One Nation.” Indeed, our Churches should be that neutral space which brings all people on an equal basis, in the presence of God. This sacred space should not be invaded by partisan politics nor hijacked by people with selfish motives. In order to maintain a solemn atmosphere imbued with a sense of national unity, we hereby declare that any Church Service hosted by the said three Church Mother Bodies shall not condone any form of politicking.
We hereby give notice that henceforth, political cadres shall not be tolerated anywhere near or inside our churches before, during and after the official service of worship. We shall also not tolerate any party regalia such as T-shirts, Chitenges, caps, and the like to be worn during Church Services. We urge all political parties to co-operate with us and restrain their cadres from attending Church services in political attire.
As Churches, we cannot sit by and watch our Churches being desecrated and turned into battle grounds for political opponents bent on mischief and shameful acts of violence.
In future, we shall not in any way officiate at Church Services where political cadres are present and are behaving in an uncultured and indisciplined manner.
We hereby also condemn in the strongest terms possible, the ungodly habit of cadres who continue to drum and dance to their political songs and slogans much to the annoyance of the faithful following solemn proceedings inside the church. We therefore call upon the leadership of all political parties, to take visible stern action against unruly youths who only bring shame and are a curse and a disgrace to their political parties.
The onus is on the political leadership of the major political parties, namely, PF, UPND and the MMD. We challenge the top leadership of these parties: “Show us that you mean well for Zambia by meeting to discuss how you will deal with cadres and the growing culture of violence in Zambian politics.”
To the Zambia Police Service: “Do not wait until political violence gets out of hand. Be proactive, be professional and non-partisan at all times. Find more acceptable forms of crowd control. Remember, violence breeds more violence”.
To Political cadres in all political parties: “Refuse to be used as tools of violence against your brother and sister by selfish politicians. Uphold the motto of ‘One Zambia, One Nation. This is the glue that has held this nation together all these years.”
Lastly, it is indeed our hope and prayer that the forthcoming funeral of the beloved Mother of the Nation, Mama Betty Kaunda, will be respected by all Zambians so that we can give her a dignified send-off which she so truly deserves. We also pray for a violence-free bye-election in Mufumbwe.
“May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant peace, love and faith to you all” (Eph. 6:23)
Rev. Suzanne Matale Rev. Pukuta N. Mwanza Fr. Cleophas Lungu
(General Secretary – CCZ) (Executive Director – EFZ) (Secretary General – ZEC)