WE welcome Thursday’s meeting between President Edgar Lungu and the church mother bodies at State House because it is a positive build up to a trouble-free election period heading to the August 12 polls.
Leaders of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zamba (EFZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) were at State House to underscore their commitment to dialogue and working with Government for the benefit of Zambians.
Among the church leaders at the meeting were ZCCB president Archbishop Ignatius Chama, and CCZ president Bishop Sauros Phaika.
Others were CCZ vice president Bishop Charles Nsemani, CCZ secretary-general Emmanuel Chikoya, Bishop Andrew Mwenda, and EFZ executive director, Fr. Cleophas Lungu, the ZCCB secretary-general.
President Lungu said after the closed door meeting that there was need for political players and the church to work together to ensure Zambia remains peaceful before, during and after the general elections.
What is paramount about the meeting is that President Lungu used the occasion to raise the need for dialogue among the political players to ease tensions in the country.
We believe and trust that only the Church is capable of bringing together all stakeholders across the political divide to a roundtable meeting and dialogue on issues affecting the country.
About Thursday’s meeting, President Lungu said they had a candid, frank, and brotherly chat on various issues of concern particularly on the need to maintain peace ahead of the August 12 general elections.
“So we had a detailed chat on a number of issues but all centring on the need for us to do the right thing, to hold together as One Zambia and One nation in peace, of course with the love of Christ, and we would like to believe that this will continue as we go into the future because dialogue is the only way you can resolve disputes and differences,” Mr Lungu said.
He said the government, church and political players have all got a role to play especially against violence.
The Church cannot afford to be silent observers to the political battles raging when it can easily summon the politicians, either collectively or as individuals to counsel them or be a conduit for dialogue.
It must convince all across the political divide for example to respect the country’s constitution by working with the institutions of governance without undermining their independence.
There must be respect for the Electoral Commission of Zamia (ECZ), the Zambia Police, and the Judiciary which some have accused of conniving with the party in government of rigging the election – even before voting has taken place.
It is important that those political parties who have even written to outsiders – the African Union and SADC – complaining about the uneven electoral playing field are brought on board hopefully with their evidence and resolve issues once and for all.
With the campaigns starting at full throttle in the next few weeks, the more reason why all stakeholders must ensure they are on speaking terms and agree on the general rules of engagement.
Zambians do not want to witness violence as the political aspirants seek political office at what ever level.
They want to see their candidates debate national issues and what needs to be done to improve the country’s economy.
In a nutshell, it is about making Zambia a better country for all under the “One Zambia, One Nation” slogan.