Catholic Bishops in Zambia say the country’s motto of “One Zambia, One Nation” is under threat going by the prevalence of pre-election violence and hate speech perpetrated by political cadres at the instigation of politicians.
Vatican News English Africa Service
“Of late, incidences of violence have become common such as the destruction of property, abductions, messages with a tribal tone and worse still, the shedding of blood,” said the Bishops in a recent Pastoral Statement. The Bishops’ message was issued collectively under the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB).
The Bishops add, “We appeal to all political contestants to refrain from acts of violence, hate speech and malice, but to show cause why they should be elected.”
The 12 August General Elections
General elections will be held in Zambia on 12 August 2021 to elect the President and National Assembly.
The leading Presidential contenders are the incumbent, President Edgar Lungu of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and Opposition leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), Hakainde Hichilema.
Allow people to choose leaders without intimidation
The acts of violence are intended to intimidate the citizenry from choosing leaders of their choice, say the Bishops. “On the contrary, people should be free to belong to a party of their choice and to choose a candidate or candidates of their preference, without undue influence,” affirmed the prelates.
“The forthcoming elections are not the first nor the last in the history of our country. Therefore, these elections should not be marred with bloodshed. Because there is life before, during and after the elections. Let us be considerate and respectful of each other. All life is sacred,” the ZCCB members emphasised.
Church leaders must stay impartial
The Bishops further cautioned members of the clergy and those in church leadership to stay the course of impartiality.
“We are not kingmakers … In this country, leadership comes through the ballot box. We wish to encourage each other to be impartial as we guide and shepherd those entrusted to our care,” said the Bishops.