Paul Samasumo – Vatican City.
Some of Zambia’s Catholic Bishops have addressed the faithful in their dioceses and called upon them to turn out in numbers and vote for their preferred candidates.
Former President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), Bishop George Zumaire Cosmas Lungu, the Bishop of Chipata Diocese, writing to parishioners in his diocese called for free and credible elections.
Voting is also a Christian duty
“To start with, I wish to reiterate the call for free, fair, peaceful, credible and transparent elections…It is surely unfortunate that in the campaign period, life was sacrificed, and property was lost. Therefore, let 12 August also be a day of special remembrance in honour of all those who lost their lives and whose property was destroyed, assuring them that nothing was lost in vain,” said Bishop Lungu. He was referring to pre-election violence that has engulfed the country. Authorities in Zambia have since deployed the military onto the streets.
Amidst fears that voters might shun the electoral exercise for fear of violent political vigilantes, known locally as ‘party cadres,’ Bishop Lungu added, “I extend my earnest appeal to all Zambians to realise that voting is one of their fundamental rights and duties. It is also a Christian duty. Let us, therefore, turn out In numbers and peacefully cast our votes and wait for the outcome, “said the Chjpata prelate.
Did you see the marks of pain and suffering on people’s faces?
For his part, in the Western Province of Zambia, Bishop Evans Chinyama Chinyemba, OMI, of Mongu Diocese, also wrote to his diocese and recorded a video message that has been widely shared on WhatsApp and Facebook platforms.
Addressing himself to Zambian politicians, Bishop Chinyemba challenged their consciences.
“Banabehesu (dear brothers and sisters), my dear politicians; having gone round the country and constituencies and addressed various political meetings and other forms of gatherings, you now know what shape the country is in. In such meetings and gatherings, you were privileged to address many people. Are the people you met in all those meetings happy? Are they contented? Are they encouraged by your words and promises? Have you encountered people who are desperate, hungry, illiterate, and impoverished? Did you see the marks of pain and suffering and anxiety written on their faces? As aspiring leaders, what vision and hope can you hold up to such a people?” challenged Bishop Chinyemba.
You are not just members of the Church
Turning to parishioners in the diocese, Bishop Chinyemba told them, “Banabahesu, you are not just members of the Church, you are also ‘faithful citizens’ who are motivated by faith and gospel values which Christ died for…. I call upon you to go out and vote. After all, it is your civic duty. Make your vote reflect your informed conscience. May your vote speak for the many young people and others who are unable to vote because of age and other circumstances beyond their control. Let the 12 August 2021 elections reflect a mature electorate who cast their ballot responsibly for the nation’s well-being and future good. May the Holy Spirit enlighten you as you go in peace to cast your ballot,” said Bishop Chinyemba.
President Edgar Chagwa Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) is seeking re-election. His main challenger is the President of Zambia’s major opposition political party, the United Party for National Development (UPND).