Zambian Christian Leaders Condemn anti-Chiluba Protests

From the Times of Zambia:

PENTECOSTAL Assemblies of God (PAOG) national overseer Harrison Sakala has urged the 18 civil society organisations to stop honking and other demonstrations against former President Chiluba’s acquittal because it is unconstitutional.

Bishop Sakala said using demonstrations or even rallies in pressing for an appeal against Dr Chiluba’s acquittal amounted to pressurising the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), which is illegal…

And the Independent Churches Of Zambia (ICOZ) has called for a complete stop to the demonstrations against Dr Chiluba’s acquittal.

ICOZ Board chairperson David Masupha said civil society organisations should learn to dialogue over matters affecting the nation than resorting to acts that would cause confusion in the country.

Various arrests have already occured:

POLICE will continue arresting all those who deliberately try to destabilise the peace of the nation by honking in protest against the acquittal of former president Frederick Chiluba, Home Affairs Minister Lameck Mangani has said.

…On Friday, nine people including two Partriotic Front (PF) members of Parliament were arrested and detained for honking. The nine were charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of peace and unnecessary honking.

Chiluba was acquitted following a six-year corruption trial in August; he gave a statement thanking God while sitting in front of a large Israeli flag (Chiluba is a Christian Zionist), and the Lusaka Times noted

…a thanksgiving service dubbed ‘Thanksgiving Service for the Acquittal of the Former Republican President’ organised by the clergy from various Pentecostal churches in Lusaka yesterday…

Some Zambian Christians are sceptical, though:

Unless second republican President, Frederick Titus Chiluba repents for stealing money from this country, God will never forgive him of the sin, a Catholic Priest has prophesied.

Father Joseph Besa of Mpika urged Christians to love one another and work collectively in bringing people to salvation.

Father Besa observed that although President Chiluba was acquitted of having stolen US $500,000 by Magistrate Jones Chinyama, he needed to repent if he was to enter the kingdom of God .

“Even if President Frederick Chiluba was last week acquitted of stealing money, he needs to be penitent because God will never forgive him,” said the Priest…

When Chiluba became president, he was anointed with oil by the Anglican archbishop, and soon afterwards famously declared Zambia to be a “Christian nation”. He also enjoyed the support of American neo-Pentecostals; Christianity Today reported in 2001 that:

…according to The Post of Zambia, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) president Paul Crouch is getting involved in the messy world of Zambian politics. Even more shocking, he’s apparently backing a third term for Zambia president Frederick Chiluba. The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, the Christian Council of Zambia, the Zambia (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference, and other religious leaders and organizations, and churches are organizing to oppose Chiluba’s bid—which would require a change to the country’s fledgling constitution. No matter to Crouch, who reportedly mentioned none of the concerns of Zambia’s church leadership when he told his viewers around the world to pray for Chiluba’s success. According to The Post of Zambia, here’s how it happened: President Chiluba himself contacted televangelist Benny Hinn for prayer, saying he “had great forces of opposition against his bid.” Hinn contacted Crouch, who also enlisted John Hagee in the prayers for Chiluba’s success over the citizens of Zambia.