Catholic Bishops Statement On The State Of The Nation

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ZAMBIA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS

STATEMENT ON THE STATE OF THE NATION

+ A CALL TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA AS GOD WANTS +

“Give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it.”
(1 Peter 5:2)

Our dear brothers and sisters in Christ and people of good will, peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

1. PREAMBLE

We, members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), have dedicated ample time to reflecting on the current social, political, economical and environmental issues affecting the day-to-day living of the people of Zambia. First and foremost, we would like to acknowledge the good will of the government to bring about development to all corners of the country through the introduction of Free Education, increment of Constituency Development Fund (CDF), employment of health, education, police service, correctional service, defense forces, immigration personnel and many others.
However, in a spirit of co-responsibility, we wish to express some of our concerns regarding the service delivery to the nation, especially to our political leadership and other stakeholders.

2. HIGH POVERTY LEVELS

Poverty and inequality levels in the country continue to rise and government needs to urgently address this. Zambia faces both high levels of poverty and inequality, even when compared to other countries in the region. lnvestment and impressive economic growth over the decade brought benefits to urban areas, but poverty in rural areas remains widespread.

3. MORAL DECAY

It is with deep sorrow that we notice a steady rise in cases of child sexual abuse, early child marriages, child labour, sodomy, Gender Based Violence, human trafficking, homosexuality, bestiality, suicide and abductions in Zambia. These are clear indications that moral standards among our people have drastically dropped. We therefore call upon security agencies to act promptly. As a nation, we all need to put our heads together to bring these immoral activities to a halt. For us to achieve this noble objective we ought to uphold Christian and family values which are of paramount importance. The use of vulgar language in the nation especially through social media should be discouraged.

4. REGIONAL AND TRIBAL SENTIMENTS

The political situation in Zambia is still characterized by the continued politicking and trivializing of important national matters by political leaders at all levels. Regional and tribal sentiments still enjoy a centre stage in the country’s political circles. There is need for a genuine, inclusive and democratic national reconciliation in the country where political leaders ought to realize and appreciate the fact that their priority should be that of serving Zambians. The government should lead and be seen to lead the way in eliminating the “tribal” talk and sentiments in the country.

5. UNEMPLOYMENT

We note the fact that government has employed 30,496 teachers and 11,276 health workers. However, unemployment in Zambia continues to be a matter of concern and the government needs to urgently improvise practical strategies on how to deal with these high escalating levels. The truth of the matter is that government cannot manage to employ everyone; it is not just feasible and sustainable. Hence the importance to venture into serious support of SMEs, SmallScale Farmers and opening of manufacturing industries in order to create more jobs. Further, we call upon the government to create an enabling environment for the already existing SMEs to thrive especially by paying them for services and goods supplied.

6. PUBLIC HEALTH

Health of the citizenry is cardinal to the productivity of a nation. lt has been observed that health facilities in Zambia are lacking medicines to treat the population in many health institutions. The claim by the Ministry of Health that enough medicines have been dispatched to all health facilities cannot be substantiated as the information concerning the availability of medicines in both urban
and rural health facilities does not correspond to the reality on the ground. ln most cases, patients are given prescriptions to go and buy medicines from private pharmacies where they
are very expensive and out of reach for the poor Zambians. We appreciate the establishment of NHIMA. However, its implementation leaves much to be desired and government is encouraged to look at its operation with the urgency it deserves. The revision of the procurement policy is also necessary in order to facilitate the acquisition of medicines and other hospital equipment.

7. FREE EDUCATION POLICY

The Free Education Policy is a welcome idea. However, the Free Education Policy has proved to have a negative bearing on the management of schools in general and grant aided (mission)
schools in particular. The following are some of the gaps and challenges regarding the implementation of the policy.

Its implementation was rushed without preparing much needed room and desk-space for the overwhelming newly enrolled pupils. The number of teachers in schools has not changed much while pupil population has doubled or tripled making teacher-learner ratio disproportional. The current teacher recruitment did not target secondary school teachers where the FEP was also implemented. This is forcing many schools (especially Grant Aided Schools) to continue employing teachers on contracts. This is a strain on the limited resources of the schools in which the remunerations were paid by Boards or the scrapped PTAs and most of the capital projects that were being undertaken by Grant Aided Schools are now failing. Subsidies from the government are not enough and are usually restrictive.

8. LAND TENURE AND LAND SECURITY

The conflict between the idea of communal ownership of land under customary tenure and individual ownership under the leasehold tenure has continued being experienced and
unfortunately, many people demean and undermine customary tenure system. Due to this situation, the country continues to face challenges such as selling of bare land, land displacements, land encroachments, land disputes and failure of women and other vulnerable people to access land.It is our desire that the government puts in place deliberate measures to fully protect customary land administration systems without abrogating human rights. lndividual rights over land should not override community interest.

9. ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change effects have continued to undermine agriculture productivity in Zambia as evidenced by floods in the Southern Province and late coming of rains in the rest parts of Zambia and partial draughts in the previous rain seasons. Our appeal is that we combine our efforts in conscientizing our people on environmental protection and disaster preparedness.

10. AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY

ln the spirit of economic diversification, agriculture can play a big role in job creation both at small scale as well as large scale farming and can guarantee food security to society. Further, food security produces a wide range of positive impacts including economic growth, and poverty reduction. However, where farming inputs such as seed and fertilizers are not delivered on time and the harvest is not bought and preserved properly, both jobs and food security are compromised.Unfortunately, even this farming season, we are grappling with farming inputs much to the dissatisfaction of the farmers. We therefore urge that the government delivers promptly the
required inputs. ln the same vein, we expect the government to buy what they can buy and secure them properly and also allow farmers to sell their extra produce to the international
markets.

11. CONSTTTUENCY DEVELOPMENT FUND (CDF)

We acknowledge the good intentions exhibited by government in inreasing the threshold for Constituency Development Fund (CDF). However, there are challenges that need to be looked into in order to build an environment good enough to support the aspiration of the decentralization policy. Currently, the utilization of CDF seems to be so problematic due to bureaucracy necessitated by the CDF guidelines. Further, the powers given to the Member of Parliament with regard to the selection of CDF committee members defeats the purpose of making this fund apolitical. We therefore, demand that the CDF Act of 2018 be amended for the purposes of making sure that this fund is protected from being politicized. ln the same breath, we urge the central government to build capacities of local governments to superintend CDF and making it more inclusive and corruption free.

12. CONSTITUTIONALISM

The need to re-look into the constitution and other pieces of legislation, such as the Electoral Process, Public Order Act, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Penal Code is long overdue.
However, the Constitutional review process seems to be very slow. Up to now, there is no clear road map for constitutional, electoral and legislative reform agenda. Zambia’s current constitution remains susceptible to regular alteration and politicization. Government should therefore guide in an open and transparent manner when and how the constitutional, electoral and legislative reform processes will be undertaken.
We are concerned with the manner some recent elections were conducted in Zambia. There are some recurring shortfalls such as political violence, tribalism, regionalism, political intolerance, lack of intra-party democracy, hate speech, name calling, bribery, polarization of the media and corruption. The perceived biasness by the Electoral Management Board (EMB) especially towards the ruling party has resulted in the diminishing public confidence in the Electoral Commission of Zambia. The way the recent Parliamentary By-elections in both Kabushi and
Kwacha Constituencies on the Copperbelt, were conducted leaves much to be desired and a recipe for violence if left uncorrected. Both the Courts and the Electoral Commission could have done better.

13. RULE OF LAW AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE

A country that adheres to the rule of law results in a society in which all persons and organizations including the government are subject and accountable to the law. This culminates into a court system which is independent and resolves disputes in an open and impartial manner. However, most of the problems affecting the justice sector and hinder people from accessing justice and claiming their rights include: corruption, inadequate personnel, poor funding, high cost of legal services, and lack of tools and equipment to carry out entrusted mandates among others. These challenges affect the judicial system and make it technically difficult for the ordinary and poor individuals to access justice and claim their rights.Therefore, we demand that property trespassing, arbitrary arrests, detention and depriving of the accused of their property must be done within the confinements of the law and if not, these should not be tolerated at all. We also condemn police brutality to our nationals (political opponents) as a way of treating those suspected to have broken the law.

14. FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

We believe that policy pronouncements must be supported by affirmative actions and without that they end up making the fight against corruption incomplete and just a mere political rhetoric.
So far, the Anti-Corruption Commission has seized a lot of properties including cash from some leaders who served in the previous Patriotic Front government. Apart from seizures there has been no conviction so far, making the fight against corruption appear as political persecution.
Presently, corrupt practices have simply changed forms, shapes and sizes in the procurement of drugs, farming inputs, motorized transport, school requisites, by-elections and justice system among others. We demand that there be no sacred cows in the fight against corruption.

15. CADRISM

The political will to remove political party cadres from market places, bus stations and other public places has helped to restore sanity in the said places. However, a lot more needs to be done to completely arrest the situation, restore full order and sanity, and to ensure that every human being is free and safe to participate in democratic and governance processes. lt is saddening to note that political cadres are slowly on the increase in market places and bus stations and have continued invading and harassing media houses and personnel. Further, they have continued to create havoc during by-elections. We demand that this trend be checked and
arrested forthwith.

16. HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION

There is need to look into the plight of immigrants and refugees in the country and especially our brothers and sisters from Rwanda and Ethiopia. We have also noted that there is a need to enhance minority rights and pass legislature that will protect the same. Nevertheless, minority rights cannot be equated with LGBTQIA+ promotion.

17. CONCLUSTON

We invite all Zambians to preserve the peace and unity our country has enjoyed since the attainment of political independence by avoiding any form of tribal, political or religious discrimination. We invite everyone to work hard for a better Zambia and safeguard our national identity of One Zambia One Nation.

Signed:

18th November 2022

Most Rev. lgnatius Chama,
Archbishop of Kasama and ZCCB President
Rt. Rev. Charles Kasonde, Bishop of Solwezi /ZCCB Vice President
Most Rev. Alick Banda, Archbishop of Lusaka
Rt. Rev. George Zumaile Lungu, Bishop of Chipata
Rt. Rev. Benjamin Phiri, Bishop of Ndola
Rt. Rev. Clement Mulenga, SDB, Bishop of Kabwe
Rt. Rev. Evans Chinyama Chinyemba, OMl, Bishop of Mongu
Rt. Rev. Patrick Chisanga, OFM Conv., Bishop of Mansa
Rt. Rev. Valentine Kalumba, OMl, Bishop of Livingstone
Rt. Rev. Edwin Mulandu, Bishop of Mpika
Rt. Rev. Raphael Mweempwa, Bishop of Monze

15 COMMENTS

  1. The good Bishops are trying to launder and make themselves look good. They should have stated some of these things and in the strongest terms during the terror rule of PF and ECL. But some of them decided to eat with them. It is also disappointing that among the many issue they have raised, they are saying nothing about payment of gratuities and terminal benefits to public service employees. I will add something to what has already been said. Development of Zambian society does not lie with politicians, it also can not be brought about by Catholic Bishops. Our development will only come from ourselves.

    • How do you easily forget that then Archbishop Telesphore George Mpundu (who resigned in 2018), favored the current ruling party, the United Party for National Development to the extent that he was literally being regarded as a UPND Cadre.A number of Catholic Bishops Statements condemning PF Government ( some in very strong language ) were issued and as usual were being read during Mass in all Catholic Churches by Priests during Homily.
      This is how the Catholic Church is consistent.

  2. This economy is still sick we know the background to this but there is a glimmer of hope which you have failed to mention for the reasons only known to yourselves. I have not seen your mention of the word inflation or foreign exchanges here, which were very common in your previous State of the Nation Statements.

  3. I expected a condemnation on the misuse of freedom of speech. As for moral behaviours that is the role of the church. Patients should be exercised regarding poverty. People have been employed give the government a chance to breathe. The employes will care for the relatives.

  4. Seriously I do not see the need for a pastoral letter now.
    Especially that the government is doing everything to address poverty what more can they do??

  5. Catholic Bishops must not pretend on issues of homosexuality & LGBT as the Catholic Church is in full support of homosexuality and LGTB…please see for your self below is the link on the position of the Catholic leader himself the Pop The New York Times

    https://www.nytimes.com › europe
    In Shift for Church, Pope Francis Voices Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions

  6. They only have 1 vote each and they are less than 40. Does money grow on trees? PF left a mountain of loans and defaulted for over 6 months. They should bring the people of Zambia in confidence where the government will get the money to perform the miracles and make all the debts disappear. Perhaps the can help by emulating Jesus and perform one miracle. The all know that Lungu and his criminal cartel (PF) pretended to have liquidated KCM while they rumpt up all efforts to ensure they looted the mine to the bone. They can’t even be sincere to acknowledge the action was criminal and caused a lot of misery on the copperbelt. That was one of the real causes poverty on the C/B. FP got stuck and could not resolve the issue. How many workers lost their jobs & contractors who remained unpaid from 2218 as a result of PF’s action. We have all the parties peddling fake stories and insulting the president in the name of free speech and non of your groupings has come out to either counsel or reprimand them and you think it’s alright. It appears you also got used to seeing wrong things and when you have a government doing things correctly you go out and complain. It’s true their some issues with procurement of drugs at times. You have to appreciate that there have been some improvements. The fact of the matter however is that the government procurement system is still under the PF appointed officials who only procure from sources they can benefit from. I believe on this one the government has to grow a spine and clean up the government procurement section. Retire the lot and appoint people who be accountable together with your party. It’s the same thing with fertiliser and all agriculture inputs. It appears this church grouping has also joined the opposition in screaming rhetoric instead of engaging government and having a dialog before writing in the media. Has the church ever engaged government to offer it’s suggestions or advise? It appears tor this church grouping wants to compete with the likes of Sean Tembo, Mwamba, Nakachinda and Tayali! I am sure they know of war taking place between Ukrane & Russia and it’s effect on fuel and food prices but the choose to be mute. If the church can’t preach or help people then let them think critically of what their role is under this government. We had people being gassed which Culminated into mob justice at the time and the church was very quiet. Don’t lose congregants by being reckless.

  7. A sober and balanced assessment. Those in charge and their supporters should not go into defensive mode but rather take note of the issues raised and act on them.

  8. A clear vote of no confidence in the government. The tone is adversarial. These bishops do not understand that to bring about stability in a completely broken system is a pyrrhic undertaking. A lot of things are wrong. This statement even though attempting to be polite and neutral may as well have been written by Nakachinda or Mundubile.

  9. Why didn’t they start this kind of ” politics’ During PF regime, instead they were in bed with PF goons.
    They have not even mentioned disrespect, hatred and insults the PF are practicing against HH in person.
    Ati ba fathers. Just say you are a branch of PF goons in clothes. It’s good manners to appreciate however little of big thing anyone has done is you are really true Christians Homosexuality is rampant in the same Catholic church starting from Rome, its HQ.
    Don’t lecture anyone about it because it have ever started and natured in your mother church.
    If you think you had something to talk or advice the government, and for you to be respected, why don’t you make an appointment with HH and present your observations and give advice. Playing to the gallery like Sea Tembo, Nakachinda, Mwamba, Antonio etc won’t help.

  10. Bishops you’re letting us(Catholiics) down.If Gvt decides to say we build more schools before we allow these persons who have reported back to school in large numbers when would you expect them to be in school?Though you seem to have wisdom on this one you’re out of reasoning

  11. The Catholic Bishops minus Bishop Tresphor Mpundu who called a sped a sped is a group of ignorant Bishops who have no knowledge of government policy and the good things they are doing. They are behaving as if they live on the moon. Look at their ignorance on “High levels of poverty”, leading to lying that there was investment and impressive economic growth over the decade which brought benefits to urban areas but poverty in rural areas remain. Which economic growth can you talk of in the last ten years of PF rule? Is -2.8 economic growth by PF going to be called impressive economic growth? You make yourself irrelevant to Zambians including your catholic members. In one year this government has grown the economy by 4% an achievement your Alick Banda has no idea and he has a seat on your grouping.
    On Tribalism, this government has now made hate speech punishable by the law. Previously, PF thrived on tribalism in order to hold together citizens of the Northern circuit.You have missed the point here. Do not bring PF’s ills to UPND. First clean your clergy many of them are tribalists especially those coming from the North. There is dirt in tour midst. Remove the log in your eye first. Remove that cadre of a Bishop in your midst.
    On SME’s this government has done well by making available the CDF to help small enterprises who are accessing these funds to grow their businesses. It is you Catholic Bishops who are not working with the government to encourage your church members to form co-operatives and companies to get involved in what the government is doing to scale down poverty. Start to do that now do not rush to write about things you do not know.
    On government paying off those who provided services to it, this government has done a commendable job bringing down the huge local debt left by PF which you do not see. I think you were overshadowed by the desire by Alick Banda to have his friends in the PF to get paid for fraudulently giving themselves contracts and expect this government to pay the PF it will not happen. Alick Banda’s influence on the other Bishops will not work. We can judge the tone of those who are “dead” in your language. Learn also that there are corrupt civil servants left by the corrupt Dr. Chilufya in the Ministry Of Health who are frustrating the efforts of government by stealing drugs from hospitals on the ground. Fertilizer at Ministry of Agriculture is top heavy with corrupt civil servants left by the corrupt Katambo. These are civil servants who were highly politicized by PF and worked to support PF through corruption now frustrating the New Dawn government. It is a matter of time.If you understood the problems, you were going to write something relevant not this paper you wrote. It is fit for the trush basket.

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