Lusaka (Agenzia Fides) – Zambia is likely to head towards dictatorship, according to 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). These three bodies represent the majority of Christians in the Country.
“Institutional violence is a fundamental measure of dictatorship”, according to the statement released through Agenzia Fides [the News Agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican] signed for the ZCCB, by its President, Archbishop Telesphore George Mpundu, Archbishop of Lusaka.
Christian religious leaders highlight the brutal arrest of Hakainde Hichilema, accused of treason, because he is said to have blocked the cortege of President Edgar Lungu. Mr Hichilema was arrested during the night with the use of 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”, the Christian leaders state, denouncing the arrest and “inhuman treatment” to which Mr 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 continues. “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 emphasize 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 H.E. 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.
The SMA first established a presence in Zambia in 1973 when Fr Michael Igoe (Co Westmeath) and the late Fr Sexton Doran (Co Down) arrived to minister in Ndola diocese at the invitation of the then Bishop Agnozzi OFM Conv. Both had been missionaries in Nigeria for many years. Fr Doran had also served as Vocations Director and Local Superior in Dromantine.
They were involved in pastoral work in Francisdale Mission, on the outskirts of Ndola, the second-largest city in Zambia.
Today, our SMA missionaries minister in the Archdiocese of Lusaka and the dioceses of Kabwe and Ndola. Several Zambian SMA priests are on mission in other parts of Africa. The Society has a Formation House for training Zambian seminarians in Kabwe, Zambia. The Regional Superior for Zambia is Fr Gustave Mukosha who resides in the SMA Regional House in Ndola. He is assisted by Fr Martin O’Farrell SMA, from Cork City, Ireland.
Read a brief history of the SMA presence in Zambia by clicking here.