Thursday, January 21, 2010
By Mwala Kalaluka
Thu 21 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
THE Roman Catholic Church's Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) priests have defended Mongu Diocese Bishop Paul Duffy's position that President Rupiah Banda's government has neglected the Western Province.
OMI treasurer general Fr Bernard Mpundu said whether anybody liked it or not Bishop Duffy, who is an OMI, was the voice of the voiceless in Western Province where he had worked for the past 25 years.
Fr Mpundu advised MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga and chief government spokesperson Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha to ask themselves where they were 25 years ago when Bishop Duffy started his missionary work in Western Province.
“The question we have to ask is this, where was MMD 25 years when Paul Duffy came into the country?” Fr Mpundu asked in an interview on Monday. “Paul Duffy still remains the voice of the voiceless whether you like it or you do not like it.”
Fr Mpundu wondered why some people should call Bishop Duffy a liar when he was speaking the truth.
“Paul Duffy has been in the country since 1984, for 25 years and his presence in the country is older than MMD and his first appointment was to Lukulu. He knows Lukulu very well and then he moved to Kalabo where he worked very well,” Fr Mpundu said.
“These two places have got big outstations or small churches, which simply tells you that he visited a lot of places in Western Province.”
Fr Mpundu said Bishop Duffy only came to Mongu when he was appointed prelate over the new diocese.
“And then he knows the Diocese of Mongu very well. He knows the people of Kaoma very well, Kalabo, Lukulu, Senanga and Mongu, not to mention thousands of church centres, which form the Diocese of Mongu,” he said. “He has been very close to the poor and he knows where they stay.”
Fr Mpundu said to reach these people, Bishop Duffy drives on the same roads where they usually walk on and these roads are very bad and dilapidated.
“It is one of the most difficult dioceses in the country because the status of poverty is again one of the highest in the country,” Fr Mpundu said. “Paul supported the inception of MMD, in the background, because he thought it was a party that was going to relieve the suffering of the people of Western Province. That is in the background because he came at the time when UNIP was in power.”
Fr Mpundu said Bishop Duffy supported the inception of the MMD then through organisations such as the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and establishment of development centres.
“What I see is that MMD has disappointed Bishop Paul Duffy tremendously,” Fr Mpundu said. “They promised to tar the road from Kaoma to Lukulu. They have not done it. For how long are the Chinese going to fill the potholes on Lukulu road? They have not done anything on Senanga and Sesheke road. Those are the things he was talking about. Was he lying?”
Fr Mpundu said the same MMD government had not done anything on the Senanga-Shang'ombo road.
“It is one of the worst roads. They attempted to work on the Mongu-Kalabo road but nothing is fruitful right now. Was Paul lying to say that MMD have not done anything?” asked Fr Mpundu. “Again to give an example of Shang'ombo hospital. It has been left abandoned after certain works had started. Why can't the government tell the truth? Western Province has been neglected as compared to other provinces and that is the truth. We are also aware that it is true that many things in the country have not been attended to by MMD as the government.”
Bishop Duffy recently said there was a general feeling in the Western Province that it was time for change following the vivid leadership failures of President Banda's government.
Bishop Duffy said President Banda was focusing his attention on the Eastern Province, where he hails from, and the mines on the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces.
He said some people feel President Banda did not have a chance in the area.
Bishop Duffy was responding to a question where he was asked to rate the performance of the Banda administration ahead of the 2011 general elections.