No hope from Mfuwe

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President Lungu

President Lungu

By Patrick Sikana

 

If you were waiting for evidence that President Lungu has run out of ideas, then you got it yesterday. His announcement to create a new ministry of Religious Affairs flew in the face of all common, economic and religious sense. At a time, he should be sealing all the existing fiscal holes, he’s drilling more. At a time he should be re-affirming religious liberty by releasing that space, he wants to regulate it. And right here, let me mention that this is the same man who wanted to introduce a national airline last year, in the middle of a fiscal crisis. That’s been the hallmark of President Lungu’s  leadership: Preaching austerity, practicing waste.

 

Everyone who knows a civil servant in Zambia, has heard that the state coffers are empty. The International Monetary Fund has slashed Zambia’s projected GDP growth from 5% percent to a modest 3.9 percent this year — warning grimly that even this might prove too optimistic due to worsening market conditions, a crippling debt and energy crisis. So, if the country is broke, and if the economic pie is not growing fast enough, where will the money to fund the ministry of religious affairs come from? “Of course God will provide,” some cadre is thinking.  No. Things don’t work like that.

 

Let me give you a hint as to where the money will come from. Between the 2015 and the 2016 National Budgets, the health budget was reduced by 1% while the education budget went down by a gaping 3%. The two reductions (potentially) mean more deaths and more illiteracy respectively. You dig a hole to fill another. It’s called robbing Peter to pay Paul. The difference is that in Zambia we publicly cheer on as travesty is taking place.

 

Zambia, a relatively small ($61 billion GDP) economy, with a population of just about 15 million, currently has 20 ministries (read: ministers), which will translate into about 27 deputy ministers. Then add the 10 provincial deputy ministers.  Then consider the fact that our public service wage bill consumes more than 60 percent of the national budget. How, in our right senses can we celebrate the addition of one more ministry with all the costs that attend it? Remember – the 2016 National budget address promised one more ministry (Livestock and Fisheries).

 

I strongly believe that, as Zambians, we are over-governed. When you look at the size of our government relative to our population and relative to our economy, and compare this with countries with similar ratios in the region, there is scope for us to reduce government expenditure, or at least, avoid bloating it, so that we begin to create fiscal space.

 

Then there is the religious liberty argument.  Firstly let me just mention that I am a practising Christian (or more appropriately, a sinner saved by grace). Admittedly, I am one of the people who have actually considered whether it might not be a good idea to somewhat regulate the mushrooming of churches in Zambia or at the very least, audit them. But to establish a whole ministry of religious affairs is stretching state mandate. The state is installed to govern how human beings interact with human beings, not how human beings interact with God.

 

We should not mix religion with the affairs of government which are primarily secular. Thomas Jefferson, once said, “the legitimate powers of governments is to reach people’s actions and reactions only, and not their beliefs and opinions.” The state thus, has no right to promulgate religion or to interfere with private beliefs (even when they mean well!). How, if, when and who I worship is a matter of personal conscience and the state has no business in that space.

 

Jesus endorsed the principle of separation of power between the state and religion when He said “render unto Caesar the things of Caesar; and render unto God the things of God,” Mt 22.21.  We must resist the temptation for excessive entanglement of church and state and recognise that it is, in fact, that separate that has allowed religion to flourish in our country. It keeps the majority from pressuring the minority. It is a just principle. It is a firm ground for religious liberty. We must cherish that separation and we must not be carried away by impulsive pronouncements meant to reward a tiny but disproportionately loud demographic of clergy using the just ended election as a bait.

 

The price of Liberty is constant vigilance. This is how religious fundamentalism and zealous patriotism begin. Soon we shall be asking ourselves how we ended up here. Church-state separation is what will protect Zambia’s incredible degree of religious freedom. The individual rights and religious diversity we enjoy cannot be maintained if the government takes on the trappings of a “faith-based” state and begins to promotes religion, or one part of religion. On the idea of a ministry of religious affairs, the President is wrong. The context is wrong. The timing is wrong. The motive is wrong. If this is what he spent time thinking about during his vacation, then there’s no hope from Mfuwe.

 

 

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18 Responses to No hope from Mfuwe

  1. The State and the church must be a separate entity. No need for a ministry but be partners

    Jmc
    August 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm
    Reply

  2. YOU CANNOT BUY HONESTNESS, A CROOK IS SEEN FROM HIS ACTIONS.

    Jata Noiluma
    August 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm
    Reply

  3. Brilliant article mune! But do these PF thugs listen?No.

    Very soon Lungu will send his thugs to intimidates banks and businesses to donate money for their pay.

    Lungu has destroyed the country mwe bantu and fo0lish Zambians are cheering him on.

    Wanzelu
    August 29, 2016 at 1:51 pm
    Reply

  4. Lungu dose not mean good for this nation,if Lungu continues this country wont be good to stay in am telling you.

    Moono
    August 29, 2016 at 2:17 pm
    Reply

  5. I completely agree with you. You do not need to be an economist to see that there is ABSOLUTELY no value in creating such a ministry apart from employment for some cadre period! WE have church mother bodies to represent the churches in Zambia, so what good will such an institution do to this country?

    Tim
    August 29, 2016 at 2:34 pm
    Reply

  6. Lungu is the man for the job not these desperate vampires who claim to know it all.these vampiros have lost elections and a huge amount of money through campaigns no kubosha ama agents so that they can be favored.whether you like it or not ecl is the president and will be after this no clue petition.Doomed minions.

    man u
    August 29, 2016 at 2:40 pm
    Reply

    • With people like “man U”, WHAT HOPE HAS ZAMBIA GOT? Lungu thinks by creating a religious ministry God will shower Zambia with economic miracles. In as much as we believe and glorify God, asking him to solve self inflicted economic problems is sheer stupidity.

      PM
      August 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm
      Reply

  7. This is a good one. AS civil servants we just continue praying, hoping that God will send people to say what should be said. all is well in Jesus’s name. God is alive. if people can’t talk he can even use stones or anything to talk. Thank you God for loving Zambia.

    Makani Alfred
    August 29, 2016 at 2:44 pm
    Reply

  8. All the “MEN OF GOLD” are jumping for joy expecting all types of manna suddenly falling from heaven! Including the misguided hypocrite that thought of this insane idea.

    They will soon change the song they are singing when Lungu carries on with his lawless ways….

    AND CLOSES CHURCHES DOWN FOR BEING CRITICAL OF HIS NONSENSE!

    Just like he did with the Post, Muvi TV and the radio stations.

    You have been warned!

    sodit
    August 29, 2016 at 4:40 pm
    Reply

  9. Sometimes it is not about squeezing or shrinking the work force that works.

    But rather having an effective, optimal, working team.

    You can be few and yet very innefective. But being an optimal number that is working is the best.

    So let us not be like an Indian shop owner who employs one help who has to save at the counter, go to the store room to pick items, and when the store room runs out of items, go to the warehouse, then come and serve the customer.

    So, in our views, as we exercise our rights to speak and present views let us be balanced and not be extremists – puling on one side forgitng the other.

    Peace for Zambia
    August 29, 2016 at 4:48 pm
    Reply

  10. When Lungu inherited Sata’s cabinet and maintained it after 20th January 2015, everybody forgave him because there was nothing much he could do to the tools he inherited. Now he has the chance to redeem himself when he forms government. As a lawyer Lungu should know about the separation of State and Church. Let the Church be Church and the State the State. People in the state come from all works of life. He represents them all. This move of wanting to create a Ministry is nothing but a way of putting his friends in office. Chiluba had a desk at State House responsible for religious affairs but he discovered quickly that this desk was not necessary. He abolished it. We expect president Lungu to have a small cabinet and not a large one. He should be more worried about the healthy sector which is in shambles. Right now at UTH, sick people are sharing beds. The toilets in the wards have no water. People answer the call of nature on the floor. Can you imagine that? Does Lungu know about this? People will not forgive the PF the next time if Lungu will continue behaving as if he does not care. He needs to come up with a team that will commit to delivering. Kasonde certainly was a failure at the Ministry of Health together with his PS. This is no time for sentimentally. How does Lungu want to be remembered after his term? Please let him show for once that he has been atleast to school.

    Comedians
    August 29, 2016 at 8:39 pm
    Reply

  11. When Lungu inherited Sata’s cabinet and maintained it after 20th January 2015, everybody forgave him because there was nothing much he could do to the tools he inherited. Now he has the chance to redeem himself when he forms government. As a lawyer Lungu should know about the separation of State and Church. Let the Church be Church and the State the State. People in the state come from all works of life. He represents them all. This move of wanting to create a Ministry is nothing but a way of putting his friends in office. Chiluba had a desk at State House responsible for religious affairs but he discovered quickly that this desk was not necessary. He abolished it. We expect president Lungu to have a small cabinet and not a large one. He should be more worried about the healthy sector which is in shambles. Right now at UTH, sick people are sharing beds. The toilets in the wards have no water. People answer the call of nature on the floor. Can you imagine that? Does Lungu know about this? People will not forgive the PF the next time if Lungu will continue behaving as if he does not care. He needs to come up with a team that will commit to delivering. Kasonde certainly was a failure at the Ministry of Health together with his PS. This is no time for sentimentally. How does Lungu want to be remembered after his term? Please let him show for once that he has been atleast to school.

    Chalo ni chathu tonse
    August 29, 2016 at 8:39 pm
    Reply

    • Lungu won’t form any government going forward. Let’s wait and see. Kaya kaya! He has been pretending the past few weeks since the petition started and he knows what’s gona happen. All you are seeing now is a man troubled I. Soul and spirit. Time will tell.

      Maliongo
      August 30, 2016 at 4:02 am
      Reply

  12. Lungu wants to appoint Frank Bwalya as minister of religious affairs for helping him rig the elections. You know Former Father Frank Bwalya is so empty in the head that you can not appoint him to any other ministry.

    ZILIMBWEE
    August 30, 2016 at 7:03 am
    Reply

  13. God Can Govern His churches no need 4 Lungu (president elect) to appoint a Minister 4 such a divine institute.

    Banda
    August 30, 2016 at 8:21 am
    Reply

  14. Ba Man u, u r mingling with unwise pipo nd that is y u r supporting this kind of an idea avoid such pipo bcoz they ‘ll make u an empty tin.

    Banda
    August 30, 2016 at 8:31 am
    Reply

  15. Moono that is true let pipo wait nd see de outcome in 1 year if this man remains power.

    Banda
    August 30, 2016 at 8:35 am
    Reply

  16. Thank you, young man, Patrick.
    Your articles are educative, even for those who pretend to be brainwashed.
    Facts are facts.

    I am a Christian. I do not support the President on this idea for 2 main reasons you have stated:

    1. The budget is tight and so should our peiorities. Someone is busy brainwashing the President – elect.
    2. Religious freedom. Actually for me, even the Clause in our Constitution declaring Zambia a Christian Nation should not be there in the first place. Christianity is not Islam that it should be imposed on people.

    Leadership is a serious matter
    August 30, 2016 at 11:23 am
    Reply

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