Rev. Fr. Paul Samasumo, ZEC SPOKESPERSON
Date: 12th October 2010
1. Violence in Chilanga Constituency
As the Zambia Episcopal Conference, we want to register, in the strongest terms possible, our condemnation of the recent violence that was widely reported in Chilanga during the nominations for the parliamentary by-election. At this time and age, violence should have no room in our politics.
After the experience of the Mufumbwe by-election violence, we would have expected the Zambia Police Service and other security wings to put in place proactive measures in policing election activities. It is now our fervent hope that the inquiry just announced by the Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Mkhondo Lungu, will not only look at the Chilanga incident in isolation but endeavour to find concrete and lasting solution to the problem of violence during elections. We would like also for the Minister of Home Affairs to make public his findings and enunciate measures to be taken henceforth, especially in view of the major elections of 2011.
2. Militias in Political Parties
We are alarmed by claims of the existence of organized militias within political parties. This is a true recipe for anarchy and lawlessness in a country that has embraced peace since independence. We are equally alarmed by the failure of senior political leaders in resolutely disassociating their parties from such unlawful groups. For a start, militias should not exist in a peaceful country of peace-loving people. We challenge political party presidents to come out in the open and unequivocally denounce the existence of militias; immediately disband them and ensure that these militias will not continue or ever be linked to their respective political parties.
3. Threats against Church Leaders
The Catholic Church is disturbed by the continued trend of attacks and threats of violence against its leadership starting with the Archbishop of Lusaka, Most Rev. Telesphore-George Mpundu, the Bishop of Mongu, Right Rev. Paul Duffy (OMI), and now against the Executive Director of Caritas Zambia, Mr. Samuel Mulafulafu. We condemn these acts of intimidation and reiterate that the whole Catholic Church stands with its leadership in working for a more democratic Zambia.
It should also be noted that Caritas Zambia is not an NGO but an integral component of the structure of the Church, mandated to promote the social teaching of the Catholic Church.
As a Church, we believe that differences or misunderstanding can be resolved through dialogue rather than threats and violence in whatever form. Participation in politics is a noble call to all our Christians and the Church’s involvement in the politics of governance is not outside its mandate. The manner in which the country is government and the way political parties conduct their affairs affect the day-to-day lives of citizens. It is for this reason that the Catholic Church urges Christians to take keen interest in the way they are governed.
It will therefore be recalled that as recent as March 2009, the Catholic Bishops of Zambia directed Caritas Zambia to animate volunteers throughout Zambia to prepare them to monitor the electoral process of 2011. This, of course, is another way by the Church to encourage Christian’s participation in governance and to promote attainment of genuine democracy in the nation.