The Catholic Church has warned the PF government against intimidating citizens using state security institutions, including the police.
They have also deplored the abuse and biased application of the Public Order Act by the Police.
Speaking on behalf of all the Catholic Bishops from the 10 provinces of Zambia at the end of their annual Bishop’s Conference at Kapingila house yesterday, Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) president Archbishop Ignatius Chama noted with deep concern that the strides Zambia made were negated and eroded by governance arrogance of the ‘know it all’ type, and that there was a lack of humility among some of the leaders and that this had led to lack of stakeholder consultation when making decisions on key policy matters.
The ZEC has also demanded that the constitution making process should be put back on track as this would give Zambians a chance to resolve problems inherent in our governance processes such as elections.
“We further lament the vast sums of money that have gone and continue to go into holding of by-elections. These funds could have given Zambians many schools and hospitals. We appeal to the whole country to seriously reflect on how best unnecessary by-elections can be avoided. We are aware that this is worsened by the stalled constitution making process that could have provided legal limitations to by-elections,” he said.
Archbishop Chama who is Kasama Archbishop advised government to take the necessary steps that would move the process forward as demanded by the people of Zambia.
“We cannot go the way of the Inquiries Act, whereby the President and his cabinet sit to cherry-pick what they think should be in the constitution. We have been down this route before where respective ruling parties have desired that the constitution be made in their party’s image and likeness. This has always not worked and it will not work even now.
“The people of Zambia are demanding nothing less than a constitution given to themselves by themselves. The final draft Constitution prepared by the Justice Silungwe technical committee should without further delay be released to the public and other stakeholders, consistent with the roadmap announced by the Constitution Technical Committee at the commencement of its mandate. The people have spoken many times over the years and even now; they want the constitution adopted through a referendum, VoxPopuli, Voxdei,-the voice of the people is the voice of God,” he said.
He said as ZEC they rejected the excuse of expenses given the fact that the country had lost huge amounts of money in the botched processes of the past.
Archbishop Chama said the police service in particular should be professional and impartial in carrying out their duties of maintaining law and order and that too many of the nation’s resources and time were wasted on politicking at the expense of real development.
“This culture must change for the better,” he warned.
The Archbishop said the Church noted that the political environment in Zambia today was characterised by manipulation, patronage and intimidation of perceived government opponents.
“Why is it that those who try to question certain practices are treated with scorn and humiliation? These are manoeuvres meant to intimidate people from participating in their own affairs and providing checks and balances in the governance of this country.