AFRICA/ZAMBIA - Waiting for the election result: Jesuits ask election winners to give priority to the poor

Friday, 13 August 2021 elections   bishops   violence   poverty   jesuits  

Lusaka (Agenzia Fides) - The official results of the presidential elections in Zambia, which took place on August 12th, are expected on Sunday, August 15th. The election was overshadowed by clashes in which two people were killed.
Sixteen candidates stood for the election, but the real challenge is between outgoing President Edgar Lungu and entrepreneur Hakainde Hichilema, who face each other at the polls for the third time, and in the 2016 elections they alone received almost 98% of the vote. This time, the outcome is very uncertain as the gap appears to be less than the 100,000 votes that helped Lungu win in the last election.
On the eve of the election, His
Exc. Ignatius Chama, Archbishop of Kasama and President of the Bishops' Conference in Zambia (ZCCB), called for calm and asked for the use of violence not to be used in politics. Addressing the ecumenical prayer for peace on Sunday August 1st in the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka, he emphasized, "We firmly believe that all parties involved in the electoral process must demonstrate their commitment to peace by refraining from violence, intimidation and the use of force as a means to achieve their goals. Violence belongs to stone age politics, and intimidation does not produce winners, it only causes more problems". The appeal of the President of the ZCCB was also followed by other Bishops of the country (see Fides, 10/8/2021).
Whoever wins will have to face the difficult process of pacifying the country after a bitter electoral campaign, marked by clashes and violence, and the challenge of poverty. According to the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection (JCTR), the new government will have to give priority to the "stabilization of macroeconomic indicators in order to ensure access to sufficient food, especially for the poor and marginalized". In their statement, the Jesuits stress the need to concentrate public spending on the social sector, "particularly on health, education, social protection, and water and sanitation, in order to improve the living conditions of more than 50 percent of the Zambian population who live in poverty". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 13/8/2021)