The President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu, has called for the Church to “Christianise the nation’s politics”, as he expressed his hopes for a violence-free campaign for a parliamentary by-election next month. President Lungu made his remarks at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, at a service to mark the 40th anniversary of a companion link between the Church of England’s Diocese of Bath and Wells, and the Church of the Province of Central Africa’s five dioceses in Zambia. The by-election to return a new Member of Parliament for the Chilanga Constituency is set to be held on 5 June. President Lungu expressed his fear that the campaign may turn violent, despite the nation self-describing itself as a Christian country.
“Very soon we’ll be going for by-elections in Chilanga but people will want to butcher each other for the sake of sending one person to Parliament,” he told the congregation, according to The Times of Zambia newspaper. “This should not be allowed, and I’m asking the Church to talk to us politicians that we may preach Christ and love for one another.”
He told the congregation that he was glad to see opposition parties, including the United Party for National Development and the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, present at the service alongside his own Patriotic Front party.
He described the 40-year partnership between Anglicans in Bath and Wells and Zambia as a clear demonstration of how effective dialogue was as a unifying factor in every sphere of life, according to The Times of Zambia. “Even when a marriage breaks down, the blame should be apportioned on the man and woman for not talking to each other,” he said. “So even as you criticise me, also criticise the opposition and guide them when they go wrong. Politicians come from the Church and form political parties, we are all children of the Church.”
A team of 28 people from the Diocese of Bath and Wells are in Zambia for a two-week trip, culminating in what the Diocese billed “Zambia Sunday” yesterday. Churches in the diocese held Zambia-themed services as part of the day. The celebrations of the partnership will continue on 14 July when a team from Zambia will travel to a public event at Wells Cathedral.