Council of Churches in Zambia Hold 28th General Conference
We, the Church Leaders from 24 member churches of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) met at Mulungushi University in Kabwe from the 15th to 19th August 2009 for the 28th General Conference to deliberate and reflect on issues relating to the spiritual, social, political and economic areas in our nation under the theme “Seeking Justice for All.”.
We, the Church Leaders from 24 member churches of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) met at Mulungushi University in Kabwe from the 15th to 19th August 2009 for the 28th General Conference to deliberate and reflect on issues relating to the spiritual, social, political and economic areas in our nation under the theme “Seeking Justice for All.”
We acknowledge that a lot of injustices and violation of human rights and degradation of human dignity has penetrated various sectors of our society including the church, private sector as well as government institutions.
We offer this document to the nation with the primary objective of addressing the injustices that have ruined the moral fibre of our communities, church, government structures and the society in which we all live as children of God.
We hereby proclaim and affirm our prophetic voice according to the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, to give new sight to the blind and to set the down-trodden free (Luke 4:18-19). The Church continues this mission of Christ of bringing salvation to all people, of liberating men and women, boys and girls from all that binds them – thus freeing them to live lives in abundance in accordance with God’s vision, image and likeness in which all people, male and female, are created equal (Gen 1:27).
Understanding the circumstances of our present day society in this context, we as Church Leaders recognize and hereby highlight the challenges that need urgent attention by all citizens as follows:
- The high levels of poverty in the nation
- High corruption levels especially in government
- The unequal/unfair distribution of resources in the nation
- The hostility in the political arena and the labour unrests in public institutions
- Lack of transparency and accountability in the management of the mineral resources and revenues
- The threat of the country degenerating in regionalism
- Lack of transparency in the fertilizer distribution to target groups
- The physical and verbal violence in the country between the media and politicians
- The urgent need for the new national constitution that shall unity the nation and stand the test of time
We as Church Leaders pledge NOT to relent being the voice of the voiceless and at the same time will continue to listen from God at all times to will and to seek justice for all. There is no doubt about the clear Biblical injunctions that impose a social responsibility upon Christians, and especially a concern for the poor and underprivileged (James 2:14-16 and 1 John 3:17). Not only has God clearly imposed social concern upon us in the Scriptures, but in them He has also given us guidelines of conduct to direct us. What, then, does the Lord require of us “He has showed you, O man, what is good …..To do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)
We commit ourselves to be active participants and not spectators in helping reduce the poverty levels in the country by engaging the people of Zambia on all civic issues aimed at raising awareness in the nation on the need for people participation in policy formulation on poverty alleviation at all levels, monitoring of budget expenditures in public institutions i.e. schools, hospitals etc, and the ability of the Zambian people to claim their God given rights.
The Church has always played a key role in mitigating the negative effects for those whose livelihoods are inadequate to provide them with acceptable standards of living. However we are also aware that the greater responsibility rests with the people placed at the helm of governance in the nation.
As church leaders we commit ourselves to continue to build on the work we have been doing – to provide, not just spiritual guidance, but also provide education, health, jobs, food and shelter for the needy.
To the Government on:
We urge the government to take its responsibility on poverty reduction seriously without making excuses – Zambia is a country rich in natural resources that has experienced significant economic growth in the last eight years but despite this recent economic growth, over 60% of the population of Zambia are living in poverty. These conditions violate a wide range of human rights and threaten the lives of all people – women, men, children, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS and the elderly.
We urge the government to honour all commitments, protocols and instruments they have signed and those they will sign in the future in relation to poverty reduction, i.e. the Millennium Development Goals, Vision 2030, The Abuja Declaration, the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) and to commit adequate resources to achieve the goals.
We urge the government to subsidize the fertiliser costs and make it available to all vulnerable people in a transparent manner as opposed to fertilizer distribution by party cadres.
We exhort the government to double their efforts in rooting out corruption from all government institutions and not stand in the way of legal processes to protect a few sacred ‘cows’ in the nation. Corruption policies on their own are just pieces of paper which will need political muscle, high integrity levels, transparency and accountability to implement for tangible results.
c) Constitution Making Process
We recognise the need to engage the government at all levels on integrity and accountable governance issues including the constitution making process and issues that touch on the livelihoods of the people of Zambia.
We note that Zambia has ratified a number of international human rights instruments, which include the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights among many. It is of the utmost importance that all human rights outlined in these protocols and instruments are enshrined in the Zambian Bill of Rights in the new national Constitution.
d) Mineral Wealth and Other Natural Resources
We note that the gap between the poor and the rich in the Zambian community continues to widen in the back drop of plenty natural resources in the nation.
We implore the government to protect the wealth of the nation for the benefit of the people of Zambia ensuring equitable distribution void of discrimination of any form. It is evident that the local communities do not benefit at all from the mining activities in their localities. Communities must benefit from their own resources and this must be legalised.
We, therefore, implore the government:
· To enact policies that will ensure that the people of Zambia are made shareholders in the investment ventures in the nation’s vast mining sector.
· To formulate the citizen’s charter that will empower the people of Zambia to demand of investors in the mining sector to fulfil their corporate responsibilities to local community.
· To demand that the investors in the country sign a decree on a number of community development programmes they shall implement during their stay in any community in Zambia.
· To demand transparency from the investors.
· To demand knowledge transfer to the local community members on the new technology. The local community members should be the first people to be considered for the knowledge transfer
· Demand that investors offer quality and good paying employment opportunities to the local population.
· Government to create and facilitate a citizen’s platform on a number of internal and external trade and/or investment issues.
· Government to make the investment processes transparent and people oriented.
e) Peace and harmony
We encourage the government to take lead in reducing the hostility in the country since it is their primary responsibility to protect people and property, maintain peace, stability and tranquillity in the nation.
f) Violence Against Media
We urge political parties whether in the ruling or opposition parties to desist from physical and verbal attacks on the media. The persistent threats against the media must stop. Aggrieved parties should instead seek legal redress which is the civilised way of settling disputes.
To the Investors, we appeal to them to:
· Seriously consider their responsibility towards the local communities whose land they have invested on.
· Consider local communities holding shares in their companies.
· Include the local community members’ representation in the decision-making processes where investment touches on traditional land.
· Include local communities in their negotiations on land issues when considering investing and carrying out business ventures among local people.
To the People of Zambia, we urge you to:
· REJECT any and all forms of violence be it physical or verbal
· REJECT those who perpetuate all forms of violence
· REJECT allowing yourselves to be taken advantage of by cheap politics and/or any other means or forms of indignity
· REJECT abuse of power and authority at all levels
· REJECT regionalism in all its forms
To CCZ Member Churches we appeal to you to:
· Be committed to all the resolutions of the 28th General Conference on the well being of our nation
· Pray for our leaders to have wisdom, to fear God so that they can execute their God-given responsibilities in truth and in reverence to God.
· Engage willingly in the management of national resources/revenues so that the people of Zambia benefit from their God given wealth, peace and justice.
With these words we implore all the citizens of Zambia to go for nothing less than the best for all
ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION – TO THE GLORY OF GOD!!