Chris Zumani Zimba, Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer and Consultant

President Lungu praying in churchOn 14th January, 2018, Religious Affairs and National Guidance Minister, Reverend Godfridah Sumaili announced that Zambia will pray and fast from Monday, 15th January, 2018 to 21st January, 2018 against Cholera and for rains. She noted that “Servants of the Most High God. A 7 day fasting and prayer has been declared by the government starting from Monday the 15th of January to Monday the 22nd of January. It is a nationwide fasting and prayer to kick out Cholera”. To us, we find this call too morally hypocritical, technically wrong and politically insane for the following 8 reasons:

  1. In this 21st century, it is not right and necessarily for any sane government to call upon its citizens to fast and pray for days or weeks with an agenda of ‘kicking out’ human diseases such as Cholera, Cancers, Obesity, Malnutrition or HIV especially when the answer to the problem at hand is obviously human and not divine or spiritual. This call from the Religious Minister is not different if the government asked humble Christian citizens to fast and pray for the whole week in order to ‘kick out’ rape, STIs, defilement or incest;
  2. It is crazy for the Minister of Religious Affairs call upon Zambians to ask God to ‘kick out’ Cholera through national wide fasting and prayers when she is fully aware that Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated especially if and when one eats food or drinks water contaminated with a bacterium called ‘Vibrio cholerae’;
  3. It is wrong and hypocritical for the government to ask citizens to fast, pray and ‘kick out’ Cholera when we all know that ‘Vibrio cholerae’ is usually found in food or water contaminated by feces from a person with the infection; infected municipal water supplies; Ice made from infected municipal water; Foods and drinks sold by street vendors; Vegetables grown with water containing human wastes; as well as Raw or undercooked fish and seafood caught in waters polluted with sewage;
  4. In this modern world were human problems such as HIV, Cholera, Cancers, Obesity or Malaria are subjected to scientific scrutiny and solutions, the Minister is both technically wrong and politically joking to ask Zambians to fast and pray for the whole week against Cholera especially when the government has already embarked on scientific interventions and workable approaches of cleaning the city surroundings, opening up blocked drainage systems, teaching the citizens on how to observe basic hygiene standards as well as a countrywide medical vaccination of all Zambians against Cholera;
  5. The Minister of Religious Affairs is morally faulty and spiritually hypocritical as her Ministry has never spoken to denounce, fast and pray against the growing high level of corruption and abuse of public resources in government as shown by the Auditor General’s Reports every year as well as supported by some PF MPs and politicians such as Harry Kalaba, Chishimba Kambwili, Tutwa Ngulube or Mumbi Phiri. Hence, her call to ask Zambians fast and pray against Cholera becomes a true shocking national drama;
  6. How is the Minister of Religious Affairs and National Guidance, Reverend Godfridah Sumaili guiding the President, the government and Zambians if her office does not prioritize to denounce and talk about empirical corruption and abuse of public resources? Why should many poor, hungry and angry Zambians be made to pray on health and hygiene issues when they same Ministry has never asked them to pray and fast against matters of integrity, political stewardship, leadership morality or good governance? This simply shows us that the Ministry of Religious Affairs is both certainly irrelevant and politically unnecessarily;
  7. Minister of Religious Affairs who is an ordained Church Reverend herself, is surely technically wrong and politically insane to call for fasting and prayer against Cholera when her office failed to guide the government in defending the US decision on Jerusalem during the crucial UN vote. If the Minister of Religious Affairs in a Christian Nation cannot call for national prayer and fasting on the Biblical case of Israel and Jerusalem, then her call to fast and pray against Cholera which is a basic hygiene and sanitation health condition becomes a true political misfit and joke in a modern scientific governance equation; a clear statement that her Ministry is both irrelevant and unnecessarily; and
  8. Lastly, the call for nationwide fasting and prayers to ‘kick out’ Cholera in Zambia by a named Cabinet Minister also speak against what President Lungu, Minister of Health, Dr. Chilufya, Minister of Local Government, Hon. Vincent Mwale and all stakeholders have been preaching and championing against Cholera, a scientific solution and medical remedy and not necessarily spiritual or superstitious approach. In other words, it is a misplaced national call from an irrelevant and hypocritical cabinet institution that was supposed to be a mere department under either Ministry of Home Affairs or Community Development.


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