Guide ZAMBIA’S DECLARATION AS A CHRISTIAN NATION: BLESSING OR CURSE?

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Archbishop Mpundu: Not enough effort has been made to diversify the economy: the agricultural department, for example, the manufacturing department. We have had three or four programs to make agriculture the mainstay of our economy, all of them being given not much more than lip service.


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Of 12 million people, about 5 million are living in the towns and the rest are in the rural areas in the country, which is bigger than Kenya. Q: But within the African context, Zambia is economically doing well.

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You have single digit inflation. You have macro-economic indicators, which are positive. You have investments, which is coming in. Inflation is down. We are speaking about a country, which is economically, at least on paper, doing well and yet at the same time, in our conversation, and in my understanding, the complaint of poverty is actually increasing. Why this contradiction and where is the problem?

Archbishop Mpundu: Let me clarify. To begin with, that was my assessment of the second term of office of the late President Mwanawasa.

There was a tremendous increase in confidence; investor confidence as a result of his dedication to at least reducing corruption. That is my personal assessment. More mines were being opened, especially copper mines. We called that [Zambia] the copper belt; the copper belt province, but under Mwanawasa, we were going to start a second copper belt in the northwestern province, in the Solwezi. Going back to square one, you know how volatile copper prices can be.

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From with the oil embargo of the oil producing — especially the Arab — nations, the production of copper became so expensive; the prices of copper went down. Nine years after independence our economy started going down. We have never recovered from that. We were going back to the same. It promised a lot of short term benefits like the Peoples Republic of China with a lot of investments coming to Zambia and promising to open these mines.

Now came the world wide economic crunch; there are a lot of lay offs on the copper belt right now as we speak. And those mines which are going to be opened; the scale at which it was going to be opened has reduced considerably. Lay offs everywhere because of copper production-related slowdown.

Q: We hear about the unemployment in the U. Archbishop Mpundu: For sure. When you have 5, miners being laid off in Zambia per week; that is lot more than 1 million in U. I think it is going to be a lot darker before it starts getting brighter. So that is one reason going back to a mono-economy and not investing enough in agriculture to make it a much more profitable economic activity for the people is a big mistake.

Q: I have a spicy question for you because Catholics make up 3 million out of this 12 million population in Zambia.

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Catholic education is very strong and present. Is not corruption playing a role in this problem of the economic growth? If corruption is playing a role where did Catholic education break down in not addressing this for the future leaders of the Zambian society? I can give you an example. President you have to do something about corruption. Corruption in government. Corruption in civil life. You have to, as president, take the lead. The government must take the lead in moral rebuilding so to speak especially with regards to corruption. They are the ones who know how to do things.

I do agree with you, on the other hand we say in recent years, the Church in Zambia has seen it fit to share with the faithful and also those who are not members of the Catholic Church our best-hidden treasure and that is the social teaching of the Church.

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Our people are becoming, everyday they are becoming, so happy that the Church has such a rich heritage of teaching on how we human beings ought to relate to one another on issues of human rights, the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God and we ought to do more. Maybe we should have done a lot more.

Now we are waking up to that. In the educational sector, sure, the Catholic Church has been doing a lot, unfortunately, as I said, on the part of successive governments, not enough resources are allocated to the educational sector and to see how important it is. It is not just education.

So that the schools we have now — like recently, we were told at the grade nine level which is nine years of education there is no cut off point anymore. Children just go into grade Wonderful, excellent, but where are the resources to increase classrooms for example, laboratories, the number of teachers?

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Archbishop Mpundu: That is a very good question. The dropping of the cut off point, there is no limit. Take as many children. There is no cut off point, but where do you put them? We do not have enough classrooms, laboratories, and not enough teachers. You want to prepare your lesson; how do you manage to get their attention.

So this is one example. Q: Let us change the subject. I want to talk about non-Christians, particularly the question of Islam. There is a growing Islamization particularly in northern Nigeria and other African countries. In Lusaka 10 years ago there was one mosque and today, I understand there are 10 mosques. Journal homepage. Austin Cheyeka University of Zambia View further author information. View further author information. Pages Published online: 26 Aug Additional information Author information Austin Cheyeka. Marja Hinfelaar. Bernhard Udelhoven. Article Metrics Views.

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