“Scandalous, intimidating”: Zambia’s Bishops Decry Police Disruption of Colleague’s Meeting with Former President

Logo of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB). Credit: ZCCB

Members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) have decried police disruption of the recent meeting between the Local Ordinary of the country’s Catholic Diocese of Kabwe, Bishop Clement Mulenga, and the immediate former head of state, Dr. Edgar Changwa Lungu.

On May 17, police in Zambia reportedly raided the office of Bishop Mulenga, where the Catholic Church leader was meeting with the immediate former President; the security agents claimed that the meeting was illegal and against the security system of the Southern African nation.

In their statement that ACI Africa obtained on Friday, May 24, ZCCB members express their “deep displeasure concerning the conduct of State Police Officers towards the Bishop”.

The meeting was “a courtesy call”, the Catholic Bishops say.

“The Conference would like to state categorically that the incident in question was incredibly scandalous and intimidating,” ZCCB members say in their one-page statement addressed to Zambia’s President, Hakainde Hichilema.


The State Police Officers’ action, the Catholic Church leaders say, was also “a serious invasion of the Bishop's privacy which was unwarranted in any way”.

“The Church in general and shepherds of souls, in particular, have the right, duty and liberty to welcome and listen to every human person, without any form of discrimination,” they say in the statement that their president, Archbishop Ignatius Chama of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kasama, signed.

Going beyond Christian values, ZCCB members note, “it is normal for people with all sorts of physical, spiritual, material, and psychological challenges to seek solace in the Church.”

They go on to condemn “every form of intimidation and violation of privacy against the prelates of the Church, their premises and that of innocent citizens in the course of the Church doing what is its mission and service.”

“It should also be reminded that despite being a public institution, the Church is in a diplomatic relationship with the State,” Zambia’s Catholic Bishops say, adding that they would wish “to see the Church's premises and its ministers respected and their rightful dignity and autonomy upheld.”

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Members of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) have also condemned the disruption of the courtesy meeting between Bishop Mulenga and the immediate former President of Zambia as “a serious affront to democratic principles”. 

“Zambia is a democratic nation where all citizens, including former presidents, have the right to freedom of movement and association,” CCZ member say in their statement dated Tuesday, May 21 in which they call upon security agents in the Southern African nation to maintain law and order professionally and impartially.

Freedom of movement and association right, the representatives of Christian leaders in Zambia say, “are enshrined in the Constitution and must be respected by all state agencies and the general citizenry.”

They appeal to President Hichilema-led government “to ensure that the rights and freedoms of citizens are protected, and any actions that threaten these principles must be addressed promptly and decisively.”

Meanwhile, in a counter-statement published on May 17, Zambia’s police denied claims that Bishop Mulenga’s residence was raided.


“There was no raid at the Catholic Bishop’s office as alleged in the video which is circulating on social media platforms, but officers went to the school for the purpose of inquires,” the police say in the statement published with the name of the Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Danny Mwale.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.