Originally published in Agenzia Fides
Zambia is likely to head towards dictatorship, says the joint statement of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) — that is to say the bodies that represent the majority of Christians in the country.
“Institutional violence is a fundamental measure of dictatorship”, emphasised the document, sent to Agenzia Fides, signed for the ZCCB, by its President, His Exc Mgr Telesphore George Mpundu, Archbishop of Lusaka.
Christian religious leaders stigmatise the brutal arrest of Hakainde Hichilema, accused of treason, because he is said to have blocked the auto cortege of President Edgar Lungu, which took place at night, resorting to police dogs, a fact that arouses the sad memory of the colonial past of the country.
“Only senior citizens well over 60 years can remember the British colonial administration using dogs on us Africans”, says the statement.
“It was unthinkable that a Zambian government would sink so low as to unleash dogs on its own people. The British have been gone for 53 years now but we are still using the same tactics to intimidate our own people,”affirm Christian leaders who denounce the arrest and “inhuman treatment” to which Hichilema was subjected.
“The presence of 80 radio stations, online newspapers and independent television stations in Zambia does not mean press and media freedom”, the statement said.
“Media and press freedom is about journalists and media institutions doing their work without fear, intimidation and threats so that they can play the role of controlling government activities in favor of everyone, without looking over their shoulders for fear of closure, arrest or attack”.
Christian leaders emphasise that “tribalism is a cancer that can kill a nation if not constantly kept at bay. The political leadership has a sacred mandate to keep this nation united.”
“We expect HE Mr Edgar C Lungu, to act as republican president whose aim is not only to protect the good of the members of his party, but also and more importantly, be the guardian of all Zambians, regardless of their political affiliation,”they conclude.