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Zambia’s New Leadership Needs to Prioritize Fight against Graft, Economic Recovery: Bishop

Zambia’s President-elect, Hakainde Hichilema. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The newly elected President of Zambia will need to prioritize the fight against corruption, economic recovery, and the safeguarding of peace, a Catholic Bishop in the Southern African nation country has said.

In a Tuesday, August 17 statement, Bishop Charles Kasonde wishes Zambia’s President-elect, Hakainde Hichilema, God’s blessings as he prepares to lead the nation after being sworn in as the country’s seventh Head of State.

Mr. Hichilema who is expected to be sworn in as President next week, Tuesday, August 24, will be required to do “much more to fight the corruption that has been so rampant (and) unprecedented in our nation, to the point of almost degrading all the good (tenets) that we have made towards fighting against corruption,” Bishop Kasonde says.

The Zambian Bishop expresses the hope that the next five years of Mr. Hichilema's leadership “will be the time of recovery, a time of economic prosperity, and the time of nurturing the peace that God has given us in our nation.” 

He underscores the need to prioritize patriotism, expressing the hope that the new leadership will seek to make possible “a time of coming together as one Zambia, one nation in reality and not by word of mouth. We want to see this visibly in the way we live and we witness to the life in Zambia.” 

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“In confidence we pray that … the ushering in of the new leaders in anticipation, will be a time that Zambians will cherish,” Bishop Kasonde says.

He looks forward toward “a time that we will continue to consolidate our bonds of friendship and our being together as God’s children in the republic of Zambia.” 

Addressing himself to religious leaders in the country, the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Zambia’s Solwezi Diocese since May 2010 says he expects faith-based leaders to “witness to the evangelizations coming from this background of equality, a background of fairness, and also, a background of freedom, where people can coexist without fearing anyone or without being traumatized by the life events that surround those who have authority over us, but rather, to live as brothers and sisters.”

On August 16, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) declared Mr. Hichilema the winner of the country’s presidential election, beating the incumbent, Edgar Lungu, by more than a million votes.

In his August 17 statement, the Local Ordinary of Solwezi Diocese who doubles as the Chairman of Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) expresses his anticipation for “a very professional cabinet, and other workers that will work with him (Mr. Hichilema) as he emphasized servant leadership.”

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The Bishop also expresses gratitude to the outgoing Edgar Lungu-led administration saying, “We thank God for the government that has passed. They may have committed sins. And they may have met their shortcomings, but it was not all bad. We also enjoyed some moments and we moved together in the development of the nation.”

The Bishop of Solwezi goes on to urge the incoming government to work towards improving infrastructure in the North Western Province, which lies within his pastoral jurisdiction. 

“In North-Western Province, we want to see much more,” Bishop Kasonde says, adding that the people of God in the region were left out by the previous government. 

He says, “We did not receive a fair share, knowing that we have three huge mines here, but a number of infrastructures have not been worked on.” 

“We would want to see much more development in our land. To appreciate the goods and the gifts that God has given us through the mines and other interventions of development in our country,” the Zambian Bishop says in the statement obtained by ACI Africa. 

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He adds, “We are hopeful and we remain with great hope in the new leadership.”

On August 16, members of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) called for a peaceful transition of power in the country. 

“As we transit from one government to another, we wish to call upon all Zambians and people of good will to exercise maximum restraint to all forms of provocation and to remain peaceful with self, with others and with God,” the Catholic Bishops said, adding, “This is the only way we can live in peace and harmony with one another.”