By Chris Zumani Zimba
On 20th November, 2016, the Catholic Church in Rwanda officially apologised for the church’s role in the 1994 genocide, saying it regretted the actions of those who participated in the massacres. The statement acknowledged that many of their church members and even some leaders planned, aided and carried out the genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists1.
“We apologize for all the wrongs the church committed. We apologize on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that church members violated [their] oath of allegiance to God’s commandments”….“Forgive us for the crime of hate in the country to the extent of also hating our colleagues because of their ethnicity. We didn’t show that we are one family but instead killed each other,”1 said the statement in parts by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda, which was read out in parishes across the country.
- The Issue at hand
When “Pompey The Great”, a close friend and brother who is politically active and vibrant forwarded me the news link via WhatsApp from ‘Lusaka Times’ for my attention and inbox analysis on 20-03-2019, my mind became instantly frightened and disturbed by the actual choice of the headline: “There will be chaos in Zambia after 2021 election-Archbishop Mpundu”2. After reading the full story, my immediate response was very simple and specific:
“It is very sad that the retired Catholic Lusaka Diocese Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has become a bitter political prayer warrior of genocide and civil unrest for Zambia. This is very unfortunate that influential public figures like him can be going round harboring such toxic political thoughts and openly preaching them through the media”, I noted and stressed. And ‘Big Pompey’ did not respond back as usual since he is merely interested to get my personal opinion on such topics.
Speaking on Tuesday, 19th March, 2019 when he featured on “Frank on Hot FM radio” in Lusaka on a popular programme which is hosted by veteran broadcaster, Ambassador Frank Mutubila, the former Lusaka Diocese Archbishop said among other things that the next election will be characterized by violence and warned that there will be chaos in Zambia after the 2021 general elections following the failure of the national dialogue process.
“The next election will be preceded by violence and during elections there will be violence and after the elections there will be chaos in this country,”2 Archbishop Mpundu warned among others things he advanced to justify his claims and assertions.
It is wrong for the respected Catholic Archbishop like Telesphore Mpundu to mislead Zambians that without a national dialogue, Zambia will plunge into political anarchy, bloodbath chaos and civil war before and after the 2021 presidential and general elections as if this country is not a constitutional democracy governed by clear laws of the land. Do we have a constitutional crisis and governance failure? Apart from HH and some of his close followers refusing to accept the outcome of the 2016 presidential vote, the final ruling by the Constitutional Court and consequently taking Lungu as the popular elected President of Zambia, the basis of the famous national dialogue becomes instantly invalid. And why is Archbishop Mpundu misleading us that Zambia needs a national dialogue led either by the church or/and ZCID for HH and the UPND to accept the legitimacy of President Edgar Lungu and his government? He is not being honest or serious at all for and to Zambians.
Maybe, part of the naked truth at hand can be traced to 2017 when HH was arrested by the state and Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu was everywhere speaking political fire the opposition leader. I was asked by a political presenter on MUVI TV to help people understand Archbishop Mpundu’s claims that “Zambia now qualified to be a dictatorship”3. I was very clear that the Man of God was misleading Zambians to proclaim that “we in the Church leadership are not repentant; Zambia eminently qualifies to be branded a dictatorship”3. I tactfully told the presenter that the Archbishop of Lusaka needed to take ‘Introduction to Political Science’ or ‘Comparative Politics’ in order for him to be helped on the topic as he was offside. Later on, it was rumored that the Lusaka Diocese Archbishop was being retired by the Pope for his controversial political stature while others said he went into voluntary early retirement4.
The discussion before us today is overt devil’s advocacy for a man of God to be openly speaking in favour of bloodshed and war instead of speaking in favour of national unity and peace for his own country. To me, those close to Archbishop Mpundu must remind him that he is too respected and still influential among many Zambians like me to be presenting himself as a schooled genocide lover who is courageously preaching bloody war, religiously meditating for political anarchy as well as openly praying for civil unrest before and after the 2021 Zambian elections. This narrative is not good or health for his credentials because there are many Men of God who were found wanted for using their holy titles and clerical privileges to fuel and foster the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.
Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Policy Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher, Consultant, Public Health and Tobacco Control Advocate. Besides being the CEO and Managing Consultant at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Town, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:45hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles on African politics and public health. Sometimes, he lectures Political Science-Part Time with University of Zambia (UNZA) and University of Lusaka (UNILUS) outside his usual commitments. Chriszumanizimba.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; +260 973 153 815
- The Guardian (2016:1), “Rwanda genocide: Catholic church sorry for role of priests and nuns in killings”, accessed from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/21/rwanda-genocide-catholic-church-sorry-for-role-of-priests-and-nuns-in-killings, Retrieved on 20-03-2019
- Lusaka Times, (2019:1) “There will be chaos in Zambia after 2021 election-Archbishop Mpundu”, accessed from https://www.lusakatimes.com/2019/03/20/there-will-be-chaos-in-zambia-after-2021-election-archbishop-mpundu/