The three church mother bodies have issued a scathing attack on the PF government’s recent moves to silence the private media.
In a strongly worded joint statement issued by Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops Teresphore Mpundu, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia President Bishop Joseph Imakando and Council of Churches in Zambia President Dr. Alfred Kalembo, the three church mother bodies said government’s actions are shameful.
They said they are deeply saddened and alarmed by the Government’s muzzling, harassing and persecution of the private media.
“The suspending of licenses for the Post Newspaper, MUVI TV and closing down of some radio stations to mention but a few incidents marks a shameful period in our history reminiscent of the sad past when the world we knew was only through the Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and ZNBC,” they said.
They said the excuses that government has offered for its actions have been lame.
“Lame excuses have been offered by the Government for its shameful action but the public cannot be deceived and has not swallowed the lies. Paradoxically it was the Post Newspaper that so eloquently supported the cause of democracy and press freedom and PF while in opposition greatly benefitted from the support and opportunities of the private media,” they said.
“Why lift the ladder now that the party is at the top? The President must take action to reverse this ill-advised and retrogressive affront on the freedom of expression.”
The Church leaders have also appeal to all media out-lets, both public and private, to adhere to professional ethics and avoid being channels of hate speech.
On the ongoing court process challenging the re-election of Edgar Lungu, the Church mother bodies charged that contemptuous statements coming PF and UPND directed at the Constitutional Court are unacceptable.
“We deplore and condemn the shameful threats by the PF to the judges of the Constitutional Court. This is clearly intended to intimidate the constitutional court which citizens should not accept. We humbly but earnestly appeal to the President to rise up to the occasion and publicly reprimand and reign on his Party’s cadres who are intimidating the Judiciary, the Constitutional Court and all of us,” they said.
“As a lawyer he must be the first one to defend the rule of law and to be seen and heard to do so; this he has yet to do,” they added.
“We further appeal to all Christians to be beacons of peace and to desist from violence even in the face of provocation as the Lord exhorts us: “Blessed are the peace-makers, they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9).”
“We remind the clergy (pastors and priests) that as official representatives of the Church they must remain strictly nonpartisan or risk dividing their own Christian communities. It is therefore unethical for us or for them to campaign for one or another political party. Therefore, no giving of politician a platform in the churches or church premises to campaign for their parties,” they said.