Tuesday, March 19, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Political violence saddens churches

Political violence saddens churches
By Mwala Kalaluka
Tue 19 Mar. 2013, 09:50 CAT

THE three Church mother bodies yesterday declared that they are ready to facilitate an all-inclusive and genuine national indaba to address the current political rifts.

And the Church says it does not want to see a repeat of acts of demonising leaders as President Michael Sata was demonised while in the opposition.

The Zambia Episcopal Conference ZEC, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia EFZ and the Council of Churches in Zambia CCZ indicated that they were saddened at the culture political violence happening in Zambia.

During their press briefing held at Kapingila House in Lusaka yesterday, ZEC general-secretary Fr Cleophas Lungu, CCZ president Rev Alfred Kalembo, general-secretary Rev Suzanne Matale and EFZ president Rev Pukuta Mwanza urged the government to avoid giving threats and using decrees in leading the nation.

"Our nation today, stands at the crossroads and we are in a crisis," they stated. "We urge the government to quickly engage their colleagues in the opposition when dealing with critical national issues. True democrats win support by means of political persuasion rather than crashing those with opposing views."

They observed that the country's political system had sunk so low as witnessed in the recently experienced loss of life during political campaigns, which they said was driven by greed and want of political
office.

"What is even more worrying is the continued culture of using both hate and tribal speech. Not only that, we wonder where drunken, violent and unrepentant cadres come from. Who actually buys alcohol for them and transport them to places where by-elections are taking place?" they asked. "We call upon all political parties to engage in a press of soul-searching."
And the Church has called on the media to end the dissemination of insults, hate and sensational information involving different persons
and that the Zambia Police command should equally rebrand the negative image it continues to project in the eyes of the general public.

They further called on their fellow clergy not to abuse the pulpit for partisan politics and that civil society organisations should ensure that respect for other people's rights are upheld.

"Let us not allow anyone to divide us, draw us backward or blind us from the truth," the statement read in part. "We demand that efforts
be made to have an all-inclusive national indaba, which should address the many challenges we are facing as a young and growing democracy. We
firmly believe that this nation can overcome all our current political differences through genuine dialogue and guidance."

Responding to follow up questions, Fr Lungu said the church has always been intent on playing a reconciliatory role in the nation but that it
could not force the powers that be to come around the dialogue table.

"There must be commitment. There must be a resolve for a sense of common understanding, a consensus about the issues to be discussed," said Fr Lungu. "At the moment the three church mother bodies stand ready to facilitate this process. We see the need for it…if people don't see it that way then it will be unfortunate. Then we are going to question whether they are really for us or not."
And Rev Matale said the challenge was that every time there was a change of government, the party in government does not usually want to respond to invitations for dialogue.
"We are always trying and we are not giving up," said Rev Matale.

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