Editor's Note

Is government harbouring Christian radicals?

“Our religion is Islam – obedience to the one true God, Allah, and following the footsteps of the final prophet and messenger Muhammad…”

These are the words of Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the suicide bombers, who killed over 50 people in the London Underground in 2005, when he explained his motives on a pre-recorded videotape.

“For peace to reign in the land, all Christians must convert to Islam. Allah has tasked all Muslims to continue to attack Jews and Christians who refused to believe in him and his messenger, Prophet Mohammed.”

Abu Qaqa, Boko Haram, Nigeria, when explaining why his group attacked five churches in the North, killing nearly 100 worshippers, including children, in 2014.

“All praise is due to Allah, the strong and mighty, and may blessings and peace be upon the one sent by the sword as a mercy for all the world… chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross delusion for a long time.”

A statement from the Islamic State in 2015, when they beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians on a beach in Libya.

“Only men of God, be it pastors, missionaries and prophets preaching the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will be allowed in the country.”

Zambian Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili after government last week refused to allow Prophet Angel entry into Zambia.

The observant readers will immediately notice that the first three quotes are by Islamic radicals, while the fourth one is by a Christian radical… who happens to be our minister. Okay, Somaili is stopping short of bombing or beheading people, but she is closing their churches, and throwing them out of Zambia (see this article). Although I tend to agree with Sumaili that there are a lot of weird churches in Zambia, and that many of them are exploiting people, and that they, therefore, could do with some regulation, I think Sumaili’s statement overstepped the line. Is she entitled to dictate which religion is the right one?


camilla
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly
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This Week’s Exchange

Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy and international development, Birmingham University, UK, stated:

“Until now, Zambia’s progress under multi-party politics has been quietly impressive. Over the last year, though, things have changed. (…) According to the Conference of Catholic Bishops – one of the most influential bodies in the country – Zambia doesn’t deserve to be called a democracy (…) it has become a dictatorship – or getting there. Many Catholic leaders were seen to be sympathetic to the PF, when it won power under Michael Sata in 2011, so what has changed? This is not the first time that a Zambian president has sought to consolidate his authority by manipulating state institutions. Nor is it the first time that opposition leaders have been arrested, or civil society groups intimidated. In the recent past, these moments of high political tension have often been resolved peacefully, (…) but it’s unlikely that Lungu will cede his quest to remain in office. First, key civil society groups such as the trade unions have been weakened by privatisation, informalisation and unemployment. Second, the Constitutional Court, that’s responsible for interpreting the constitution, was handpicked by Lungu. Third, Lungu’s case is more complicated than Chiluba’s. In 2001, the second president had served two full terms in office and wanted one more. Today, Lungu is arguing that he should be allowed to have a third term because his first period in office did not count, as he was just serving out the final year of Sata’s term. All of this means that Lungu is likely to get his way. (…) Opposition protests are inevitable, as is some civil society criticism. If past form is anything to go by, Lungu’s government will respond with threats and intimidation.”

Ruling PF party deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri reacted:

Cheeseman is nothing but an attention-seeking professor, who thinks he can lecture us about democracy. The people of Zambia spoke through the vote, and their wishes must be respected by all, including Cheeseman. Cheeseman creates the impression that there was a letter authored by all Catholic bishops, which labelled Zambia as a dictatorship. For the record, that was an opinion expressed by the archbishop. (…) It is irresponsible for Cheeseman to compare ours with late President Frederick Chiluba’s third-term bid. The view that the current constitution allows President Lungu to seek re-election (…) is before the courts of law. (…) the PF will respect the outcome of the court system. President Lungu’s good governance record remains solid. It was President Lungu’s administration that took the referendum on the proposed Bill of Rights to the people. (…) it was UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who campaigned against it. It is President Lungu’s administration, which allowed for the 50%+1 clause in the constitution, the running mate clause, and reduction of presidential powers. President Lungu believes in an independent judiciary. (…) Today, Zambia has a Constitutional Court, something that was unheard of in the history of our nation. While the opposition petitioned the Constitutional Court, President Lungu remained calm until the matter expired. We wish to correct the view that human rights of politicians in trouble with the law are being violated. Citizens, who are also politicians, and on trial, have appeared in court within a week of being charged, and (…) for continued trial. The due process of the law is clearly being followed to the letter. Professor Cheeseman‘s daydream, that Zambia is falling from grace because of HH’s arrest, is a lie. Zambia remains a shining example of democracy not only on the African continent but world over.”