The Catholic Bishops of Zambia have advised the ruling Patriotic Front regime to embrace the spirit and letter of democracy before the nation is plunged into chaos.

Zambia’s bishops say they are aware of a climate of intimidation and serious human rights violations currently prevailing in the Western Province where there are abductions of citizens; arbitrary arrests and individuals being subjected to long periods of interrogations, even torture.

In their latest pastoral letter to all Catholics and people of goodwill, the 12 Bishops representing the entire country have said  the Public Order Act, in its current form, has no place in Zambia’ statutes.

‘It is both repressive and anachronistic. It needs to be repealed,’ the bishops said.

In apparent reference to President Michael Sata, the Catholic clerics said, “Many of our leaders seem to find it easy to change positions on policies solely for personal gain, expediency or convenience. We have seen leaders subscribe to particular principled positions when in opposition only to repudiate those very positions when accorded the instruments of power.”

Responding to the pastoral letter, Chief Government Spokesperson Kennedy Sakeni said the government values its partnership with the church and is therefore reluctant to engage it on national issues through the media. He added that the Zambian government will not depart from its commitment of upholding the fundamental tenets of democracy, good governance and the rule of law as espoused in its party manifesto.

Click here, to read the full Pastoral letter issued at Kapingila House, Lusaka, Zambia on 27 January, 2013 and signed by:

Most. Rev. Ignatius Chama – Archbishop of Kasama, Apostolic Administrator of Mpika and ZEC President

Rt. Rev. Alick Banda – Bishop of Ndola and ZEC Vice President

Most Rev. Telesphore-George MpunduArchbishop of Lusaka

Rt. Rev. Raymond Mpezele – Bishop of Livingstone

Rt. Rev. Emilio Patriarca – Bishop of Monze

Rt. Rev. George Cosmas Zumaile Lungu –Bishop of Chipata

Rt. Rev. Charles Kasonde – Bishop of Solwezi

Rt. Rev. Evans Chinyama Chinyemba, OMI – Bishop of Mongu

Rt. Rev. Clement Mulenga, SDB– Bishop of Kabwe

Rt. Rev. Benjamin Phiri – Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata

Very Rev. Fr. Michael Merizzi, M.Afr. – Apostolic Administrator of Mansa

Rt. Rev. Aaron Chisha – Bishop Emeritus of Mansa