ZAMBIA: Church Leaders Oppose Ministry on Guidance and Religious Affairs

LUSAKA, SEPTEMBER 23, 2016(CISA)-The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) and the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) -the protestant churches’ body- have opposed the establishment of a new government Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs.

Explaining their stand, the two Church bodies said they found the creation of a new ministry of religious affairs unnecessary and imprudent.

“In view of the various financial and economic challenges our country is currently facing, we neither see the creation of the said ministry as a top priority nor a prudent decision. After all, we believe that Zambians want their country to be a democracy rather than a theocracy,” the religious leaders said in a statement.

“We believe that as churches and other faith communities, we have this far been able to exercise our God-given mandate and meaningfully contribute towards national development without having such a ministry. Therefore, both CCZ and ZCCB stand opposed to the creation of the above mentioned ministry,” the statement said.

The statement came after Patriotic Front (PF) Shibuyunji District Chairperson, Joseph Kasonde, had said on his statement that the newly created religious Ministry would help to regulate the church mother bodies in Zambia. He revealed that a number of mushrooming churches in Zambia have taken advantage of the vulnerable people in the communities.

He added that the freedom of worship and rights to assemble have been abused in Zambia due to the absence of a national administration in religious matters.

Lusaka times reported, September 19. The two church mother bodies through Most Rev. T-G Mpundu, ZCCB President and Rev. Dr. Alfred Kalembo, CCZ President, reassured their membership, that they would not be intimidated in exercising their God-given mission of being the conscience of the nation and exercising the prophetic ministry of calling for social justice following the example of Jesus Christ.

Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, last week appointed Reverand Godfridah Sumaili, a Pentecostal pastor as the new head of the ministry of religious affairs.

The Zambian parliament still has to ratify the appointment and the creation of the new ministry. He had however received support from Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) Executive Director, Reverend Pukuta Mwanza, on behalf of Pentecostal Churches who, last month, praised President Lungu’s initiative saying it would “promote Christian values and give more meaning to the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation.”

Former President Frederick Chiluba in 1997 established the Religious Affairs desk with Rev. Peter Chintala as Deputy Minister at Statehouse. The religious desk suffered because of unclear terms of reference and its inability to garner support and consensus from Churches. Eventually, it was quietly phased out, reported Vatican radio.

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