THE three church mother bodies are saddened that the country is slowly degenerating into unguarded practice of debt contraction.
Zambia’s external debt currently stands at US$4.7 billion while the local debt is K24 billion.
The church noted that while borrowing could not be entirely avoided, the church fully supported the call for stronger oversight on debt contraction by the legislature.
This is according to the Jubilee Pastoral letter signed by Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) president Alfred Kalembo, Evangelical Fellowship Zambia (EFZ) board chairperson Joseph Imakando and Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) president Telesphore Mpundu.
“We are in fact seriously concerned and saddened to see how our country is once again slowly degenerating into unguarded practice of debt contraction,” the bishops said.
“Whilst borrowing is not to be entirely avoided considering our limited and meager internal revenue, we fully support the calls for stronger oversight on debt contraction by the legislature so that Zambia does not reverse the gains of debt forgiveness and slip back into another debt trap,” the letter reads.
The churches said the extreme and unsustainable welfare policies introduced by the government have had a big toll on the economy and consequently the welfare of the people.
They have said in the past because of decline in copper prices, the country was pushed into excessive borrowing from international financial institutions which resulted in an unsustainable debt of about US$7 billion.
“This has left an indelible foot print on the economy of Zambia and peoples’ livelihoods whose effects are still being felt today,” they said.
The clergy noted that there were unacceptably high levels of poverty in Zambia and disproportionate development biased towards urban areas while rural areas have persistently been neglected.
The church leaders demanded that government should drive a genuine development agenda towards rural areas.
The church called upon political party leaders to educate their members on the importance of the value of civil and peaceful politics.
They said Zambia needed strong issue-based political parties which would give citizens a genuine space for political participation.
The bishops said government must strive to promote and practice civil politics which recognise the rights of others to associate organize and communicate.
They appealed to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to commit themselves to genuine service of the people and good stewardship.
“We acknowledge that governance practices and stewardship of financial resources have been a challenge for many CSOs. We urge CSOs to be beacons of accountability even to the beneficiaries in whose name resources are raised,” they said.
The bishops called on Christians to recommit themselves to the noble project of building a better Zambia anchored on Christian values of love, truth, unity, hospitality, responsibility, social justice, compassion, solidarity and accountability.
They said the institution was saddened by the increasing reports of preacher men who profess to be servants of God engaging in vices that contradict or offend God’s teachings.
“The Church must examine its rank and file and route out those whose motive is to tarnish its name and the image of God. To our faithful and committed brothers and sisters in the Lord, God calls each one of you to be the salt and light of society,” they said.
The bishops appealed to all Christians to lead by good examples and profess their faith by being visible witnesses of servant leadership marked with moral integrity.
On the constitution making, the clergy said the process should be concluded through a national referendum.
“We use this opportunity of celebrating the Golden Jubilee of our independence to call upon government to unblock the constitution making process that has stalled for a longtime now by guaranteeing a clear and inclusive road map that will lead to the conclusion of the constitution making process through a national referendum and in a timely manner,” they read.