The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has condemned the special treatment accorded to politicians who attend church gatherings, to the point of allowing them on the pulpit.
The church mother body has also condemned churches and members of the clergy who are in the habit of endorsing political candidates or parties ahead of the August 12 general elections, saying such actions depart from the calling of the church.
CCZ President, Saulos Phaika has also reminded political players that politics should be a battle of ideologies, showcasing what a political party stands for and not a platform to engage in violence.
Reverend Phaika has reminded the church of its non-partisan stance and the need to uphold its integrity as a core value in promoting peace and unity in the country.
He was speaking in Chipata district during a meeting dubbed “Youths against political violence” aimed at building peace amongst different political players.
Reverend Phaika noted that CCZ strongly condemns acts of political affiliation by those in the church saying it has continued engaging the clergy to desist from such.
He added that politicians who attend church gatherings should occupy seats like ordinary congregants and not be allowed on the pulpit.
“This should be done in order for the church to maintain autonomous and also avoid causing conflict amongst church members,” he said.
Rev. Phaika says CCZ further, regrets and condemns the political violence that is being experienced in the country.
Rev. Phaika said the violence being experienced is an indication that the country is losing its sense of unity and such should be halted.
“People are being harassed in bus stations, markets, and communities in general, hate speech, tribalism, regionalism, are almost becoming the new normal,” he said.
To this effect the church mother body has bemoaned a perceived non- decisive action from the police, alleging that the inaction from the law enforcers is making some people think they are above the law.
“I want to remind all political players and various stakeholders to take these matters seriously and always remember that when peace is lost it is difficult to regain. Therefore, we should not take this peace for granted,” he advised.
Rev Phaika further reminded the media to be actively involved in the fight against political violence as the country heads to the polls on August 12th.
He noted that the media plays an integral role in transforming society given the power it possesses in agenda setting and general information sharing.
Meanwhile, Vince Chipatuka, who is Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Programme Manager said his organization is partnering with the church to ensure violence free elections this year.
“We understand the importance of peace, peace is a prerequisite in the attainment of development, hence the reason why we are pushing this agenda,” he said.
The program for “Youths against political violence” meeting in Chipata is a replica of similar meetings in Lusaka, China, Kitwe and Solwezi.
The meetings are being conducted under the theme “Let us have a violence free election”.