Photo Credit: Council of Churches in Zambia
The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), which includes the Zambian dioceses of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, has joined with the country’s other two church mother-bodies, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), to issue a joint Statement on National Dialogue calling for an “ongoing process and effort” to bring peace and justice to Zambia.
“The source of the Christian joy, happiness and peace is the fact that we belong to God and participate in God’s life,” they said. “Therefore, we must respect and reverence each human life and each other as members of God’s household. The greatest gift we Christians can give to the world is the joy and peace proclaimed by the angels. In fact, the birth of Christ marked a definitive reconciliation between humanity and God. Therefore, we are called to live as a reconciled people.
“In the Bible, peace means love, forgiveness, reconciliation, good will and good relationships between people. This is the good news meant for people of all races, pigmentation, religions, tribes, political affiliation and ideologies. This is the peace we wish for our nation Zambia. However, there can be no peace without justice at personal as well as at all levels of society.
“True dialogue means a change of heart, attitude and behaviour. It is a project, an on-going process and effort.”
They continue: “It is the way of life for us Christians which should be heard in our words, seen in our faces and actions because it is in our hearts. Lack of peace hurts everyone especially the weak, the elderly, the poor, women and children. It hurts us Christians because we are essentially brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ who identifies himself with the same poor and the suffering.”
They say that “the reality on the ground” is that Zambia is not the peaceful country it is renowned as being, because of “many acts of injustice, a growing culture of corruption, incidences of violence and utterances out of deep-seated hatred.”
The church leaders say that they “earnestly appeal to all our political leaders to stop insulting each other or anyone who does not agree with their political opinion and start genuinely to respect fellow political players as legitimate opponents with their constitutional right to hold their political opinion and to propagate it among the general public.
“It demands that all political party leaders declare and enforce zero tolerance for political violence and to bring culprits to book by handing them over to law enforcement institutions. It means that all political leaders must give the planned for ‘national dialogue’ a chance to succeed by committing themselves to dialogue without preconditions with a view to levelling the playing field. These leaders of political parties must refrain themselves and their members from making inflammatory or irresponsible statements.”
On the cholera outbreak, they say: “Our hearts go to the many families who have lost their loved ones from the disease. We pray for God’s peace, comfort and encouragement during this time of national crisis.
“We pray for the various teams working on the ground to fight the cholera outbreak so that this may be overcome quickly and life may be restored to normal. We support the efforts of other stakeholders in this battle against cholera and pledge ourselves to collaborate with government in addressing the epidemic.”