By Rev. Kapya Kaoma 

Roman Catholic Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu’s courageous indictment of the Patriot Front as a cartel of thieves, and the push back it received from the PF cadres across the nation fulfils the saying, “truth hurts.” Evidence is everywhere–from the Mukula scandal to Ghost Workers to Fire Engines to Forest 27 to mining in the Lower Zimbezi to acquittals of criminals–the PF is surely a syndicate of organized crimes. As long as PF cadres sit in our rotten courts and head investigative offices, PF criminals will roam our streets with pride. And many poverty stricken pastors and bishops will shout, “in the name of Jesus, more money in our pockets.” But courageous bishops will callout the PF for what it is–a syndicate of organized crimes.

Archbishop Mpundu’s characterization of the PF as a party of thieves follows my October 20, 2019 piece, “The PF Government only prays to steal, destroy and kill.” The Archbishop shared my conclusions–the Lungu cartel is plundering the nation covered in Christian prayers and rituals. Like rats, the PF is not only stealing every Kwacha it lays its hands on, but passing policies that benefits it greedy agenda. The legalization of marijuana is an example. I am still to hear Rev. Sumaili’s moral reasoning on this subject. It benefits her economically, so it is good after all.

Archbishop Mpundu is speaking truth to power. From Livingstone to Mbala to Mansa to Chipata to Solwezi, the masses languishes in perpetual poverty at the time when Lungu’s cartel fly across the world; sleeping in 5 star hotels–accumulating millions in “legalized stealing” a.k.a. allowances.

By reducing his salary by 20%, Lungu wants us to believe he cares for an ordinary Zambian. Does he? As long as he is in Plot One, we pay for everything including toilet paper and toothpicks. With or without his salary, his living expenses is a big zero! So whether he cuts his salary by 100%, it makes no difference. We the taxpayers will support his lavish lifestyle and unproductive trips, while babies die due to power cuts, water pollution, and lack of drugs.

Salaries aside, the PF cartel robs the nation of millions in unwarranted allowances. During his corruption trial, the late President F.T.J. Chiluba noted that his millions of dollars were accumulated through many allowances–no wonder Lungu and his cronies are always flying. If we are seriously considering cuts, why not suspend unlimited travel allowances PF cadres receive when global trotting? It is the cartel’s cleanest way of plundering the nation–and many pastors will shout, “Amen” whenever they share in the plunder!

The PF cadres shameful antics directed on the Archbishop betray logic. You cannot have Rev. Sumaili in Cabinet, and then argue that the Church has no role in politics. Yes, the separation of Church and State is critical, but the Ministry of Religious Affairs was created to dupe the poverty stricken and self-serving pastors into supporting the PF crime syndicate. Pastors who shout Pabwato are heavily rewarded with infamous “brown envelopes” filled with blood money. Remember pastor Nevers Mumba’s claim when he was Vice President to Mwanawasa–his allegiance was first to Mwanawasa and second to God. It pays to shout “Amen” to the Corrupt One–you may end up an ambassador. Just ask pastor Mumba and Mr. Frank Bwalya.

Unlike compromised pastors, Roman Catholic Bishops have consistently refused dancing dununa reverse for “brown envelopes”–something that allows them to speak with moral clarity. But with a cost–outspoken religious leaders are declared enemies of the state as was the case with the late Archbishop Elias Mutale, Bishop Dennis de Jong, Fr. Umberto Davoli, and now Arch. Mpundu. So despite attempts to demean the Archbishop’s prophetic voice, it has a strong history. From colonial rule to multi-party politics, religious leaders have participated in politics. This is true across the world–in Latin America, Europe, Asia, the US. and Africa. In fact, courageous religous leaders are assassinated for speaking on behalf of the voiceless.

The PF cartel fears independent relligious thinkers. As we approach 2021, hundreds of thousands of pastors will worship the Corrupt One. They will loudly shout, “people are well fed,” when in fact, they are starving to death. They will shout “amen, the government provides quality healthcare for all Zambians,” while the poor die from curable illnesses and politicians are airlifted to South Africa and Europe. We live in the animal farm indeed.

To win in 2021 elections, the Corrupt One will frequently dine with pastors and reward them with stolen money. We recently saw this in Choma when President Lungu and GBM donated K450,000 to United Church of Zambia Bishop Sinkala’s church building project–of course after the bishop characterized the cartel as the shield against moral decay. “Behind every corrupt politician, there is a respectable bishop or Imum,” so Fela Kuti bemoaned in Coffin for the Head of State. But so are prophetic voices–an element evidenced in the Archbishop’s position.

In Raised Hopes, Shattered Dreams (2015), l argue for educating the Christian masses on governance. “Theologians,” l write, “must not shy away from identifying sin as the root of social and economic problems. Neither should the Church ignore the cry of the poor; rather, it must amplify this cry with divine stipulations for justice. The Church’s theology of justice only develops when God’s people listen to the cry of the pitiable of the Earth and seek to transform unjust structures that dehumanize our fellow human beings.”

I continue, “the state will try to entice or bribe the Church…but, the prophetic Church ought to be the sacred voice and eyes of the oppressed. —To disregard this vocation is to cease to be part of the mission of the triune God.” In other words,

“God has no hands but our hands,” and how we act is significant to realizing God’s reign on Earth. By pro-actively defending the underprivileged and working to transform the evil conditions of the disempowered, the Church is participating in the Creator’s holistic mission. As the body of the Word made flesh, the Church seeks God’s will in all politics of life. By acknowledging its faith in the crucified God, the Church brings God’s politics into human politics. So until the Church promotes God’s politics of justice and love, politicians will exploit democracy to accumulate wealth at our expense.”

There is no doubt that the PF cartel is exploiting democracy to enrich itself. I salute Archbishop Mpundu’s courage to speak the truth to power! Say a prayer for the Archbishop.