By REBECCA MUSHOTA –
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu and the Catholic bishops have agreed to work together to build unity in Zambia and speak against tribalism.
President Lungu and the Catholic bishops agreed to enhance dialogue and promote national unity yesterday at a meeting held for more than one hour at State House yesterday.
Present at the meeting were the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president TelesphoreMpundu who is also the Lusaka Diocese Archbishop, his deputy Alick Banda who is also the Ndola Diocese bishop and the Chipata Diocese Bishop Cosmas Lungu.
Others were Solwezi Diocese Bishop Charles Kasonde, Mpika Diocese Bishop Justin Mulenga, the Livingstone Diocese Bishop Valentine Kalumba and the ZCCB secretary general Cleophas Lungu.
The minister of Religious Affairs and National Guidance Godfridah Sumaili and the President’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda also attended the meeting.
After the meeting Mr Chanda said that the President and the bishops had an open and frank conversation in which they agreed to promote national unity and denounce tribalism.
“The President reached out to the Catholic bishops and implored them to denounce tribalism. He has emphasised that tribalism was one of the biggest challenges he was facing because of the dangers tribalism had the potential to create,” Mr Chanda said.
He said the bishops, through Archbishop Mpundu, urged President Lungu not to get tired of speaking against tribalism.
Archbishop Mpundu said the bishops would denounce tribalism at every opportunity and commended President Lungu for his efforts towards uniting the nation and promoting tolerance.
The bishops also said that they wanted a clear separation between the church and the State.
They said that the Catholic Church would also continue supporting Government in the health and education sectors but asked for Government to consider assisting in the payment of salaries of the people that worked in the Church-assisted institutions.
Mr Chanda said Mr Lungu said that he would speak to the minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya to see how Government could assist in the remuneration of workers in the said institutions.
President Lungu also encouraged the Catholic Church to work with the ministry of Religious Affairs and National Guidance.