By KENNEDY LIMWANYA
To excite genocide in Rwanda, it did not have to take the entire Catholic Church holding a conference of some sort to agree on how the Hutus should seek to exterminate their Tutsi brothers and sisters.
The genocide was incited by such manoeuvres as are being seen by Zambian Catholic priests who have waged a relentless political assault on President Rupiah Banda’s Government.
Whatever President Banda has done to these supposed men of God to deserve so much terror propaganda!
Of course, it is common knowledge that opposition Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata’s brother-in-law, Telesphore Mpundu, is a senior figure of the Catholic Church in Zambia.
It is, therefore, not entirely surprising that some senior Catholic prelates have been conspicuously unanimous in voicing their disapproval of President Banda’s leadership.
It simply cannot be mere coincidence that within a space of under one year, close to ten Catholic priests have been issuing inflammatory statements with the view to incite the Zambian people to rise against a democratically elected Government.
At first, Father Frank Bwalya appeared to be a lone voice in the wilderness although his ilk was, from time to time, reinforcing his anti-Rupiah Banda campaign.
Father Bwalya’s Red Card Campaign, with the massive support of the PF, was never at first seen to be Catholic Church-backed until Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu held a Press conference this year.
At that Press conference, Archbishop Mpundu openly showed his bias by extolling Father Bwalya’s anti-Government campaign, giving currency to the eccentric Kitwe priest’s public theatrics.
Before then, despite Archbishop Mpundu’s close relationship to Mr Sata, it was thought the Catholic priest could not engage in politics.
After his outbursts at that conference, it just became free-for-all as all his juniors followed suit, which was not surprising when Bishop Duffy of Mongu Diocese issued an ill-conceived statement that the people of Western Province had resolved to vote out the MMD Government in the 2011 general elections.
Following a public outcry at Bishop Duffy’s unwarranted and unprovoked hate speech, Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) president Bishop Lungu attempted to describe the Mongu bishop’s ranting as personal.
But what was rather surprising in Bishop George Lungu’s explanation was that he failed to condemn Bishop Duffy’s political stance and, instead, insulted the intelligence of Zambians by accusing them of failing to understand what the Mongu priest meant.
Not long after Bishop Lungu’s statement, another priest, this time going by the name Godfrey Mpundu, jumped on the bandwagon, describing the MMD Government as “impotent”.
If every Jim and Jack in the Catholic Church can just wake up and say anything, it speaks volumes of lack of leadership in the church.
It beats one’s understanding to think of the Catholic Church as the most vocal of all Church denominations in Zambia, and always calling for regime change.
In terms of percentage, the Catholic population in Zambia is just over 20 per cent, but why they want to speak on behalf of all Zambians, is almost beyond human understanding.
In the case of the Bishop Duffy and Father Mpundu, the statements they have been making in a province dominated by the MMD are not helping the senior Mpundu Telesphore, who has been accused of mounting a campaign to replace President Banda with Mr Sata.
The consequences of the Catholic campaign would be ghastly to contemplate, considering the reign of terror they have been known for in countries like Rwanda. Catholic bishops have come under worldwide spotlight, accused of homosexuality and child molestation, while cases of HIV and AIDS are on the rise in convents and monasteries.
These are the issues that require immediate attention by the Catholics, but they are seeking to distract that attention by engaging in activities that are not adding value to many countries.
The Zambian Catholic bishops must know that Zambians have the right to determine their destiny and will not be swayed by selfish individuals who use God’s name to commit evil.
The role of the Church should be that of partnering the Government in enhancing good governance instead of aiming at creating turmoil.
Zambian people are watching, and are alive to the developments that have come their way since President Banda assumed office in 2008.
Those bishops who want to join the political battlefront should do so openly instead of campaigning for Mr Sata using the Church.
For any blood that might be spilled as a result of their careless statements, the Catholics will be held responsible, as in Rwanda.
Zambians do not want Catholic-driven genocide in this country.
Originally published in TIMES OF ZAMBIA