Advertisement

Refrain from Violence, Use of Force to Achieve Political Objectives: Zambian Archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Zambia's Kasama Archdiocese. Credit: Kasama Archdiocese/Facebook

A Catholic Archbishop in Zambia has called on all politicians and their supporters to desist from any form of violence to showcase their political might before, during or after the general elections slated for next week. 

The Local Ordinary of Zambia’s Kasama Archdiocese who was speaking at the National Ecumenical Prayers on Sunday, August 1, said politically instigated violence belongs to the “stone age period.”

“As a Church, we strongly believe that all stakeholders in the electoral cycle must demonstrate their commitment to peace by refraining from violence, intimidation and use of force as means of achieving their objectives,” Archbishop Ignatius Chama said during the event held at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. 

Archbishop Chama added, “Violence belongs to the politics of the stone age and political intimidation produces no winners; instead, it produces more problems.”

“If anything,” the Archbishop who doubles as the President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) said, “Victims will defend themselves, their positions in the same way, using the same means and in the end we get a situation where hatred, violence and intimidation continues.”

Advertisement

Tensions have risen in Zambia in recent weeks as supporters of President Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and those of United Party for National Development's (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema, clash in what seems to be a tight contest ahead of the August 12 election. 

Pockets of violence have been reported in the country’s capital, Northern and Southern Provinces where PF and UPND supporters have allegedly fought using slashers, machetes, axes and other objects.   

To curb the increasing tensions, President Lungu reportedly deployed the Zambian Army, Air Force, and National Service to aid the police in maintaining order on August 1.

In his message during the prayer service, Archbishop Chama said that Zambians need to embrace the virtues of humility, gentleness and patience for the attainment of peace in the Southern African nation.  

“In order to have free, fair and peaceful elections we are called to have the spirit of genuine humility,” the Zambian Archbishop said. 

More in Africa

He explained that though humility is “the shift of focus from me and I to focus on the other, ... in the struggle to maintain political power we tend to view humility as a sign of weakness and not a mark of greatness.”

“Due to this distorted understanding, we sometimes see political leaders and their followers who are ready to humiliate their opponents to exploit their politics. Such are always ready to protect their status at the expense of the weak and the poor. Such are the cadres who shamelessly carry their pangas,” he said. 

Archbishop Chama who was appointed Archbishop of Zambia’s Kasama Archdiocese in January 2012cautioned against the violence saying “such an attitude is a recipe for conflict.” 

He further urged Zambians to be gentle in all their dealings and explained, “Gentleness is a virtue which is between being too angry and never being angry at all. It can have the character of kindness when ascribed to by somebody in authority. It means reasonable leanness.”

Gentleness, the Archbishop went on to say, “is a virtue of peace makers, namely the inner strength not to reiterate when provoked.”

Advertisement

Contrary to the belief that gentleness means “being soft or weak”, he added, the virtue portrays “reasonable leanness.”

“It is our prayer that Zambian politicians including diehards, cadres will truly be gentle with each other as we go into the polls and even after the declaration of the final results,” said Archbishop Chama. 

He also urged the people of God in Zambia to exercise patience by “bearing with one another charitably.”

The Zambian Archbishop explained, “Patience literally means to be slow to anger. Someone who is slow to anger is someone who has a high rated fuse and the fuse does not blow just with the small current of provocation from another person.”

He emphasized the need for peace saying, “Time has come to accept that peace is not merely the absence of war or maintenance of power between enemies. Rather, peace is the fruit of justice and love which all of us have to produce to be children of God.”

(Story continues below)

“Zambians wherever you are and whenever you are listening, I ask you to choose working for peace and live or choose working for political violence and perish,” Archbishop Chama said August 1.