Below is the story summarising our meeting with members of the Petauke Clergy from different denominations yesterday.
Public office should be anchored on strong Christian values that delivers service to the people and not selfishness, and as a UPND government, we will view the church as a partner in fostering development, says UPND President Hakainde Hichilema.
Speaking yesterday in Petauke Constituency when he met members of the clergy from different denominations, Mr. Hichilema said he was fully aware of the problems church organisations were going through such as struggling to get plots to build churches for worshipping.
“As a Christian myself, I know churches are struggling to get plots partly because they do not give bribes to those in authority. Churches are also equally charged same levies on equipment and materials that facilitate the work of God which we think is very unfair and must be taken out immediately,” he said.
Mr. Hichilema said it was currently very easy to levy churches because they are honest enough not hide anything, unlike large commercial organisations that use underhand methods to go away with huge profits that is not being taxed.
“Under the current constitution, the president is allowed to nominate 8 people and amongst them we will nominate at least one recommended by the church mother bodies who will be a cabinet minister. We will do the same with other interest groups because we believe such nominations should be used for various interest groups,” Mr. Hichilema said.
And the UPND leader said he always prays to God that people could be fairly judged for who they were and their works, and not by their tribes and religious affiliations.
“Before God we are one, why should we be judged based on our tribes or even religious affiliations. If you didn’t know me, and just met me in the streets or work place doing some public good, would you know that I am Bemba, Lozi, Nsenga, Luvale, or Tonga, etc? Let’s judge each other based on our ideas and works not tribe. I always pray to God and the church must get involved in championing a situation where people could be judged based on who has better and superior ideas of moving the country forward and not be judged by their tribes. There is nothing like a small tribe as we are all the same before God,” Mr. Hichilema told the clergy.
Mr. Hichilema called on the church to be in the forefront to raise alarm and give guidance when the political leadership were faltering in the governance of the country.
He said church leaders must not be afraid to approach political leadership and tell them when they were doing something wrong in the country on matters such as corruption that affects economic management of the country’s resources.
“The church must play a critical role in matters of governance and for us in the UPND, our first line of defence on matters such as corruption would be our strong Christian values. We will make the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) an independent body. They will not wait for instructions from the president on whom to prosecute. The ACC will work with the Auditor General’s office and will decide on which cases to take to court,” he said.
And commenting for the first time on the departure of former UPND vice-president Mr. Richard Kapita, Mr. Hichilema said Kapita was his longtime colleague and brother who he still respects and would have loved to continue as member of the UPND.
He said Mr. Kapita, who he still treats as a family member, made his democratic right that should be respected and must be wished well in his new political life and role.
“I wish I can ease the pain that opposition politicians are going through in Africa including Zambia because it is not easy. Personally I have been summoned to police stations and dragged to court several times on laughable charges, such as sometimes for barely mingling with you people here. It is tough,” he said.
Earlier in the morning, Mr. Hichilema and his entourage paid a courtesy call on Chief Kalindawalo of the Nsenga people as well as Chief Mumbi, before touring the markets and trading places where traders complained about the tough business environment under which they operated.
Later Mr. Hichilema addressed a mammoth public rally where he introduced the UPND candidate for Petauke Central, Allan Zulu.