By Prince Bill M Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
On March 20, 2017, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which over 800, 000 ethinic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered like pigs!
The sins and failings of the church and its members had disfigured the face of Catholicism, the influential The Guardian Newspaper quotes him as saying.
In the same article, it is estimated that 5,000 people were killed at the Ntarama Catholic church on 15 August 1994: the site is now one of six major memorials in Rwanda. One priest, Father Athanase Seromba, ordered his church to be bulldozed with 2,000 Tutsis sheltering inside. Another, Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, helped draw up lists of people to be killed and raped young women, according to charges issued by the UN’s international criminal tribunal for Rwanda in 2005.
The article further goes on to articulate that the Catholic church was compromised by its longstanding political ties to the ruling Hutu elite. Archbishop Vincent Nsengiyumva sat on the ruling party’s central committee for nearly 15 years even as it implemented policies that discriminated against Tutsis.
Why are we saying all this?
Lately, Bishop Alick Banda and Fr. Salangeta have been vociferous in bashing or aiming barbs at President Hichilema. Listening to the two speak, one would think that this country is grappling with a crisis worse than the nightmare we had to endure from PF for some 7 donkey years!
Why is it that they seem to be so worked out against Hichilema? Is it because he has departed from the “culture of brown envelopes” as was the case with the previous administration? Is it that he is not trying much to address the challenges of our people? What are those shortcomings that we deserve to learn about? What is motivating these attacks on the president? Is it because of his ethnicity?
House of Chiefs Chairman Dr. Chief Chisunka says it is regretable to witness politically motivated statements coming from certain religious leaders, especially when such messages lead to divisions among the people. He further observes that this poses a significant threat to our nation. The Chief could not have put it more succinctly than this! The manner in which the two priests are conducting themselves is stoking tribal sentiments in the nation.
Just in case this article is misconstrued, may we hasten to clarify that we are not in any way referring to the Catholic church in its entirety but we are rather singling out 2 specific individuals!
Just as some priests were complicity in the genocide in Rwanda, some priests in this country conviniently chose to keep quiet and looked the other side as citizens were being gassed; citizens were being brutalised in markets and bus stations; capital projects were being delivered at inflated prices; cabinet positions were being allocated to specific tribes and certain regions were being denied of meaningful development.
Why didn’t the duo voice out reservations then as much as they are doing today?
Only an infant or a dimwit would fail to appreciate that the relationship between President Lungu and the said priests was like that of “a simcard and a handset!” The two can’t do without each other. Obviously, whatever array of fringe benefits that could’ve with such associations have since been taken away. It’s therefore possible that frustrations are eating up the duo since they are just human beings like the rest of us, hence the tantrums!
As many would attest, Alick Banda was a frequent visitor at State House during the previous regime, he undoubtedly enjoyed a cordial relationship with President Lungu. His support for Lungu was so unwavering that he had to cross swords with the indefatigable Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu (retired) for siding with the masses and standing up to the PF brutal regime!
Is it not Banda that vehemently refused to sign a Pastoral letter condemning the PF diabolical activities before the elections in 2021? Wasn’t Lungu invited by Banda, as the then Ndola Diocese Bishop, to officiate at the carpark fundraising walk? Lungu actually made a substantial donation himself. The Bishop obviously had no qualms about the source of that donation as long as it suited him!
As for that Fr. Salangeta, we are equally not surprised for the path he has taken……..he belongs to the same WhatsApp group as Banda! Apart from enjoying the privilege of attending state functions, he famously went to “bless” the office of newly elected Chawama Member of Parliament, Tasila Lungu, a daughter of the former president. Consider the recent video which has gone viral on social media whereby he is mocking the president for presenting graphs and talking about the millennium development goals at his last press conference. How can a priest habour such kind of ill feelings against someone?
Honestly, do we expect compromised individuals such as Banda and Salangeta to be impartial in their audit of the performance of the current government? Do you expect a fair assessment? Can they even spare a bit of time to discuss what has landed us in such a mess? How do you expect miracles from a government that has barely been in office for less than 3 years?
We expect Catholic priests who are seemingly neutral to be offering credible checks and balances to the current administration as opposed to individuals such as Banda and Salangeta!