By Wairimu Ruth
LUSAKA, MARCH 23, 2021 (CISA) –The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) have called for free, fair, credible and peaceful 2021 General Elections.
“As we move towards the August elections, there are issues currently affecting the country and others that may affect the credibility of the 2021 elections in August. We therefore wish to bring the following to attention of the nation and call upon every Zambian to take every step possible to promote peace before, during and after elections,” the Church bodies said in their statement.
The statement signed by Bishop Sauros Phaika (CCZ President), Bishop Paul Mususu (EFZ Chairperson) and Bishop George C. Z. Lungu (ZCCB President) was issued March 19.
The Bishops have appealed to political leaders to prevail over their members and ensure that they engage in peaceful campaigns to curb impunity and minimize violence related to the electoral process.
“Regrettably, despite the available video evidence of well-known people who engage in acts of violence and utter sentiments of tribalism/regionalism, no action has been taken. Decisive action against any person engaging in electoral related violence must be reported to the ECZ for appropriate electoral sanctions and the police for criminal charges. At the same time, we strongly appeal to political leaders to prevail over their members and ensure that they engage in peaceful campaigns,” they said.
Urging the police service to stand firm and remain impartial at all times the Bishops said that, “…the burden of ensuring that law and order is observed in the country lies on all the people of Zambia, but the police carry a special mandate to enforce law and order where society fails to voluntary regulate itself.”
The Bishops while appealing to all media houses to exercise journalism for peace have expressed the failure of public media to fairly provide a platform for all Zambians to air their views, regardless of their political affiliation.
They have urged the private media to be balanced and factual in the presentation of information to the public.
“As we move closer to the August 12 elections, we call upon all stakeholders to religiously abide by the public health regulations in order to safeguard the lives of the people. In addition, we urge those seeking to be elected not to use the observance of Covid-19 protocols to stifle the efforts of those seeking to be elected, especially those in opposition,” the Bishops said.
“The Church remains committed to engaging with the Republican President, relevant government ministries and institutions, leaders of political parties, ECZ, Zambia Police, the Media, traditional leaders, other faith leaders and CSOs in a meaningful dialogue that will yield results, so that we guarantee for our people, free, fair, credible and peaceful elections,” they added.
According to the statement, the Church on its part has set its eyes on its desire for a conversation of hearts and minds, leading to a united, reconciled and peaceful Zambia where all citizens freely participate in governance within a thriving social and economic environment.