President Sata and Evangelicals

By Thomas Zimba

I would like to comment on calls to include the Evangelical Fellowship in Zambia (EFZ) on the technical committee appointed to come up with a draft constitution vis-à-vis the Government’s response. I do not want to be speculative but the omission (if that is what it is) is too loud. The President knows too well that there are three umbrella bodies for the church in Zambia. Therefore, whatever the motive or explanation, it does not make any sense to single-source one member from the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), ask for three from the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) and none from EFZ.
Even if this is not the intention of the President, this ‘omission’ sends a wrong signal to EFZ: that it is an insignificant mother body. Lest we forget, EFZ has played a pivotal role in championing the need to come up with a people-driven constitution. We should not forget the role that the likes of Bishop Paul Mususu played to the extent of being labelled anti-government.
The President’s reaction at the swearing-in ceremony of the Justice PS was off tangent. ZED leader Dr Fred Mutesa was not asking the President to include born again Christians, but to have representation from EFZ. Even the Government’s spokesman Given Lubinda’s explanation is not satisfactory. Lubinda’s explanation was that since this committee is technical and not a review commission, it does not require representation from all stakeholders but only requires experts.  Granted, this sounds very logical, but a little analysis shows that something is not just squaring up. First of all if these are experts in their own right, what expertise does the only chief bring to the table? Why is it that the three Catholic bishops are unnamed? Doesn’t this mean that ZEC will have to propose the three names?
The honourable thing for the Government to do is own up and admit it was an oversight (like over nominating MPs and abolition of Secretary to the Treasury) which it will rectify. It should be made clear that we do not want a bloated committee. Government can deal with this issue and still reduce numbers. The following are options:
  • Ask the three church mother bodies to propose one name to sit on the technical committee. This will reduce the overall composition to 17.
  • Reverse the nomination of three Catholic bishops and instead ask each mother body to propose one name. This will reduce the total number to 19.
PF should not pretend that this is a small matter. It should address the matter quickly and objectively.  Already there are sections of the country who feel the objective is to remove the ‘Christian Nation clause’ from the Constitution. For any constitution-making process to be successful, no stakeholder should have suspicions about Government’s intentions. If PF wants to ignore these sentiments, they will have themselves to blame.

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