A Pastoral Letter Issued by the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) on the August 2016 General Elections “NO LONGER WILL VIOLENCE BE HEARD IN YOUR LAND” (Isaiah 60:18)


ZEC logoA call to peaceful, credible and transparent elections.

PREAMBLE

  1. To all members of the Catholic Church and all people of good will. We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in the words of St. Paul: “Now, may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Th. 3:16).
  2. As we are near the election day of 11th August 2016, we are compelled by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14) to once again speak to the nation on matters relating to the electoral process. For us, every election is a moment of grace and an opportunity for self-appraisal as a nation. It is not only about the election of political leaders but as we have said before, it is an opportune time to review our past performance in order to prepare for better political choices for the future. It is also a time to celebrate our democratic independence as opposed to anxiety.
  3. We write this pastoral letter to you Catholics and people of goodwill in Zambia to remind you of your duty to elect leaders and of the need to maintain peace before, during and after the polling day. While each individual Catholic has the God-given right and freedom to decide on who to vote for and how to answer the referendum question, the teaching of the Church can offer you some valuable guidance in an attempt to reach an informed judgement that advances the common good. The Church believes that once people maintain and strengthen their democracy, they stand a better chance of actively participating and shaping the development of their country.

CONDITIONS FOR PEACEFUL, CREDIBLE AND TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS

  1. As we have often noted, the free will of the people is the hallmark of any credible election. We must therefore pay particular attention to key aspects that can enhance or reduce and even negate the credibility of the forthcoming elections. Some of the key conditions for any elections to be peaceful, credible and transparent include:
  2. a) Peaceful Atmosphere

4.1 Democracy requires in the first place that all citizens exercise their right to vote in a free and peaceful environment. Much as we are proudly acclaimed for being a peaceful country, we should never take things for granted. Given the increasing incidents of politically motivated violence and continued tension between members of political parties, our record of being peaceful is increasingly being threatened and we are afraid that if the current spate of violence is not curbed, may have a serious impact on the voter turnout as many eligible voters might fear going to vote due to security concerns.

4.2 We therefore urge all the politicians across the political divide to make every effort in ensuring an effective way of cadre management and to immediately tone down their confrontational rhetoric. What Zambians are expecting is for them to focus on key governance and developmental issues that will help the electorate to make informed decisions.

  1. b) Impartial Media

4.3 The role of the media in the electoral process cannot be over emphasised. All players in the electoral process need access to the mass media to propagate their agendas and programmes in a more efficient way. An impartial media that will treat every player equally is therefore cardinal. Both public and private media should adhere to the principle and ethics of fairness and truth. We urge especially the public media to be professional, ensure full and fair coverage of all political parties. On the other hand, we want a responsible use and reception of social media (CF. Let there be Peace Among Us – A ZEC Pastoral Statement issued on 23rd January, 2016, #s 27 & 28).We also urge all the consumers of the media outlets to be critical of the messages they receive from various media because it is not everything that they read, hear or watch contain the truth especially the information they get from the social media.

  1. c) Professional Enforcement of law and order by the Police

4.4 We know that it is the duty of the police to protect life and property and above all to maintain law and order. We call upon the Zambia Police Service to perform their duties of maintaining law and order professionally and effectively without undue pressure from partisan influence. They should be impartial and apply the law fairly to anyone who breaks the laws of this country. We call on the police to implement the Public Order Act in the most appropriate manner by ensuring that they do not exercise any inconsistencies or biases when dealing with different groups of people for any alleged offences or when political parties have provided notices for the holding of their public meetings and political rallies.

  1. d) The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)

4.5 The ECZ is the legally constituted body mandated to manage our elections in such a manner that the right of the people to choose their leaders is unfettered. Given the many pressures exerted on the ECZ by various interest groups during election time, there is need for high levels of integrity by ECZ officers. ECZ should not be seen to be an institution that is being manipulated to suit the interest of one group or political party. We therefore urge the honourable Commissioners and ECZ staff to remain resolute and professionally conduct their business in providing the necessary mechanisms in the electoral process that will guarantee free and fair elections. The ECZ officers must remember that “The Lord demands fairness in every business deal; he sets the standards” (Prov. 16:11).

WHO SHOULD WE VOTE FOR

  1. Many times questions are asked for the Church to name a specific party or candidate whom all Christians should rally behind. The Church does not and will not support or prop up a particular political party or candidate. That is the free choice it leaves to its flock. The Church embraces members from diverse political persuasions and jealously protects their freedom of association. Nonetheless, based on our Christian principles, the Church can provide some guidance that could help its members make informed choices among the many candidates and political parties that present themselves for election.
  2. Drawing from the Social Teaching of Church, the qualities that candidates for political office should have are following: professional competence on political, economic and social programmes, courage to speak out the truth, concern for social justice, desire to work for the common good instead of self-enrichment, disposition to use power for service, especially service of the poor and under-privileged, openness to dialogue, good moral standing, transparency and accountability to the electorate (Cf. Building for Peace, # 11). Above all Christians should realise that they have a moral responsibility to vote for candidates who follow the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and who emptied himself for the good of all (Cf. Mk 10:41-45).Therefore, Christians should not vote for candidates who are arrogant with a propensity to use violence, people with questionable moral standing, those with proven record of corruption and abuse of power and public resources and those who put narrow sectarian or ethnic interest before national interest and the common good.

REFERENDUM ON THE REVISED BILL OF RIGHTS

  1. We share the anxiety of many citizens in Zambia on the issue of referendum even as we are near our August elections this year. Little has been done by concerned government bodies to popularise the new and expanded draft Bill of Rights. Again, time seems to be against us in terms of making our people truly and objectively understand the contents of the said Bill and what they will be voting for or against in the proposed Referendum Question: Do you agree to the amendment to the Constitution of Zambia and to repeal and replace Article 79 of the Zambian Constitution? We are aware that some critical concerns have been raised in terms of the complexity of the Referendum Question itself as well as the symbols attached to it. On the other hand, it is our considered view that many of the constitutional changes we need to make that could improve the people’s quality of life and dignity hinge on reforming the current Bill of Rights. It is therefore imperative that more effort is made by both government and non-governmental actors, including the Church, to educate the people on the forthcoming elections and counsel them to vote wisely without coercing them to vote either yes or no.

OUR APPEAL

  1. We call upon all Zambians who registered as voters to turn up and cast their votes during the voting day. Voting is not only a right but also a duty to the country to help identify and put in place credible people who will make the state function in the promotion of the common good. Never get tired of voting, as your apathy will only give greater chance to opportunists to carry the day.
  2. To you our dear political leaders, we appeal to you to respect the views of others. If you truly want to be chosen for national governance, then you should show commitment to the common good that transcends partisan interests. If elected, you will have a duty to all, including those who are not your members or did not vote for you and your party.
  3. Further we call upon all Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to play an important role in educating, organising and mobilising the public. We call upon them to redouble their efforts in facilitating citizens to make meaningful participation in our electoral process. We also call upon organisations intending to monitor the elections to be adequately prepared for this task. They should be equally independent and free from manipulation and give the public truthful information about the proceedings of the elections.
  4. We again appeal to our own Catholic priests to remain non-partisan. As we clearly stated in our statement at the beginning of the year: “The Church law is very clear on this (Cf. Canon Law 285 and Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2442). It is morally wrong for the Catholic priest to use the pulpit to campaign for, or de-campaign any political party or parties. In as much as we welcome Catholic politicians to celebrate Mass with us, they must not be given any platform to speak during liturgical celebrations” (Cf. Let there be Peace Among Us, #31).
  5. To our dear lay faithful, we call upon you to get involved in the electoral process. It is our Christian duty to participate in the civic life of our society. After all, the Gospel challenges you to be “the salt of the earth … and … the light of the world…” (Mt 5: 13-14).Use opportunities availed by your structures and programmes to educate yourselves on election issues and urge your members to get involved as voters, and monitors.
  6. We make a special appeal to you, the youth, with the conviction that you have a greater stake in the future of this nation. We challenge you to be architects of a better Zambia by being agents of peace and reconciliation. We appeal to you to “refuse to be used as mere tools of violence by politicians” (Let there be peace among us,# 26)

CONCLUSION

  1. In conclusion, we appeal to all Zambians to realise that voting is one of their fundamental rights and duties. It is also a Christian duty. We thus pray that all citizens enter the August 11 general elections with a spirit of honesty, avoiding bribes and cheating. We also pray that all voters, political party leaders and their cadres may have at heart, the needed passion and commitment to build for peace and avoid all forms of violence. As St. Paul exhorts us, “Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody” (Romans 12:18).

(N.B This Pastoral Letter should be read in all Catholic Parish Churches and Prayer Centres on 24th July 2016, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time).

May God bless our nation!

Issued at Kapingila House, Lusaka, on 17th July, 2016 and signed by:

ZCCB LOGO PNGMost Rev. Telesphore-George Mpundu –Archbishop of Lusaka and ZEC President

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

Most Rev. Ignatius Chama –Archbishop of Kasama

Rt. Rev. Raymond Mpezele – Apostolic Administrator of Livingstone

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. Patrick Chilekwa Chisanga, OFM Conv. –Bishop of Mansa

Rt. Rev. Moses Hamungole –Bishop of Monze

Rt. Rev. Justin Mulenga – Bishop of Mpika

Rt. Rev. Benjamin S. Phiri – Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata

Rt. Rev. Aaron Chisha – Bishop Emeritus of Mansa

Mons. Valentine Kalumba, OMI – Bishop Elect of Livingstone

PDF FULL VERSION OF THIS PASTORAL LETTER

Oasis Forum calls for an end to political violence in Zambia.


Oasis Forum LogoThe Oasis Forum says it is extremely disturbed, appalled and greatly saddened by the increasing incidents of politically motivated violence in the run-up to the August 11 General

Oasis Forum Chairman Fr Cleophas Lungu PNG
Oasis Forum Chairman Fr Cleophas Lungu

Elections. The Forum says this is despite the commitments political parties pronounced at the Indaba on political violence held at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on 29th March 2016.

It said it is disheartening that the resolutions of that Indaba have been thrown to the wind and our political leaders are once more letting the country down.

The Oasis Forum includes the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), the Non-Governmental Coordinating Council (NGOCC) and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC).

Forum Chairman Fr Cleophas Lungu said the wise counsel of the Church and other stakeholders in the governance of the country has not been heeded by the authorities responsible for maintaining law and order. Fr Lungu observed that political violence has been on the rise at a very alarming rate.

“The Oasis Forum observes that the incidences of political violence are symptomatic of a serious breakdown of law and order in the country and are a threat not only to the holding of free, fair and credible elections, as expected in August 2016, but also to our very existence as a sovereign state which has enjoyed relative peace on the African Continent for over fifty years. Something drastic needs to be done sooner than later,” Fr Lungu said.

He said the Oasis Forum also wishes to register its deep concern over the conduct of the Zambia Police Service who continue to fail to discharge their statutory functions and to act impartially in maintaining law and order.

“In the past, the Oasis Forum made repeated calls to the Zambia Police and other state law enforcement agencies to act decisively and bring all perpetrators of violence to justice as a way of preserving peace in the country. However, we are deeply shocked by the apparent impotence of the police when the unruly cadres from the ruling party take the law into their hands and commit abominable acts in their face.”

He added. “And yet, the same police will apply excessive force when confronting members of the opposition. On the other hand, the behaviour of some cadres from the opposition leaves much to be desired. Indeed, no legal excuse can be given for citizens taking the law into their own hands, even on account of failure by the police to objectively and professionally administer the Public Order Act (POA).”

Fr Lungu has since appealed for calm and maximum restraint from especially the members of the Patriotic Front (PF) and the United Party for National Development (UPND).

“It is incumbent on all of us not to do or say anything that might worsen an already volatile situation. The Oasis Forum also calls on the youth to desist from being used by political actors to intimidate other political players who have the same right to belong to a party of their choice and hold divergent political opinions.”

http://zeccatholic.blogspot.com/2016/06/oasis-forum-calls-for-end-to-political.html

Nota Pastoral dos Bispos Católicos de Moçambique


Bishop statement Moz. May 2016 titleÀs comunidades cristãs e a todos os homens e mulheres de boa vontade, queremos saudar com as palavras de Jesus Cristo Ressuscitado:“A Paz esteja convosco”.

Nós, os Bispos católicos de Moçambique, reunidos no Centro de Formação de Nazaré, Arquidiocese da Beira, continuamos muito preocupados pela vertiginosa deterioração da vida social, política e económica do nosso país.

Perante o recrudescimento de acções de violência: acusações mútuas, corte de estradas, raptos, esquadrões de morte, com o desaparecimento e assassinato misteriosos de pessoas, enfrentamentos armados com muitas mortes de civis e militares, semeando luto nas nossas famílias, renovamos o apelo que fizemos ao Governo e à Renamo no dia 10 de Novembro de 2015 para o “silêncio absoluto das armas” e para a“urgência dum diálogo eficaz envolvendo as forças vivas da sociedade”. Exortamos igualmente a todos a respeitarmos a vida e a cumprirmos o mandamento do nosso Criador e Senhor: “Não matarás” (Dt5, 17).

Apelamos vivamente a não ficarmos surdos ao grito do povo que noite e dia clama “paz, paz, paz”; e a não ficarmos indiferentes à denúncia de D. Jaime Pedro Gonçalves, grande profeta da paz que disse: “Mesmo que toquem juntos todos os batuques de Moçambique, ninguém ouve”. Com ele afirmamos que é necessário terminar com a retórica e as promessas enganosas, e ter a coragem de dar passos concretos para pôr fim às hostilidades.

Renovamos a nossa solidariedade com todo o povo moçambicano que, apesar destes sinais de morte, vive na esperança de uma autêntica paz. Reiteramos a nossa disponibilidade de buscarmos juntos o caminho da reconciliação, da justiça e da paz.

Convidamos as nossas comunidades cristãs e todos os homens e mulheres de boa vontade para uma jornada especial de oração pela paz e de solidariedade no dia 22 do próximomês de Maio, Solenidade da Santíssima Trindade, Deus Amor e Misericórdia. A colecta deste dia será encaminhada integralmente à Cáritas Nacional para acudir às necessidades dos moçambicanos Refugiados no Campo de Kapise, no Malawi.

Bishop statement Moz. May 2016 signature

Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops of Mozambique

“I heard the clamour of my people… I saw their sufferings” Ez: 3, 7.

We would like to greet all Christian communities and people of good will with the Words of Jesus Christ the Risen One: “Peace be with you.”

We, the Catholic Bishops of Mozambique, gathered in the Formation Centre of Nazaré, in the Archdiocese of Beira, continue to be very much preoccupied by the vertiginous deterioration of the socio-political and economic life of our country.

Faced with the recrudescence of violent actions such as: mutual accusations, the cutting off of roads, rape, death squad, the mysterious disappearing and murdering of people, the armed confrontations with many deaths of civilians and soldiers provoking mourning in our families, we renew the appeal that we made to the Government and RENAMO on the 10th November 2015 to “absolutely set their guns to silence”, to “urgently come to an efficient dialogue involving all the social bodies”. We equally exhort all to respect the dignity of human life and to observe the commandment of our Creator and Lord “You shall not kill” Dt: 5, 17.

We are strongly appealing not to remain deaf to the cry of people who, night and day are shouting, “peace, peace, peace”; not to remain indifferent to the denunciation of the great prophet of peace, the Bishop Jaime Pedro Gonçalves who said, “all the drums of Mozambique may be beaten altogether, no one hears”. With him, we affirm that it is necessary to finish with the rhetoric and the false promises and to have the courage to make some concrete steps to put an end to the hostilities.

We renew our solidarity with the Mozambican people who, despite these signals of death, live in hope of an authentic peace.

We reiterate our availability to search together the way towards reconciliation, justice and justice.

Francisco_J.SilotaWe invite our Christian communities, all men and women of good will for a special day of prayer and solidarity on the 22nd May, Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, God who is love and merciful. The collection on this day will be integrally sent to Caritas National to help the Mozambican refugees in Kapise camp in Malawi.

Beira, 11th April 2016

Bishop Francisco Chimoio, Archbishop of Maputo, President of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique

Translation from Portuguese by Boris Yabre, M.Afr

Zambia Episcopal Conference Pastoral Statement – January 2016 (Summary)


ZEC Pastoral Statement LogoTo all Catholics and people of good will in Zambia!

We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As is our tradition, we hold the first plenary meeting in January of every year. It is the moment of grace during which we reflect and deliberate on our task as shepherds of the flock of the Catholic faithful in Zambia. In addition, we seize the occasion to review and evaluate the context within which we exercise our ministry of evangelization in order to discern our relevance to society as a Church. As pastors of the Church and teachers in the matters of faith and morals, we always feel duty bound to teach on issues affecting our faithful and the people of good will, for “woe to us if we do not preach the word of God in and out of season” (I Cor 9:16; 2 Tim 4:2).

Our country is moving towards the 2016 tripartite elections. Zambians should be looking forward to this occasion with joy and great expectation. Ideally, elections are supposed to provide an opportunity of choosing our desired representatives in Councils, Parliament and a President of our choice in peace and tranquillity.

However the political culture that persistently clouds our election does not depict a maturing democracy and maturing democrats. Zambia is paying a great price through political hooliganism and apparently the leadership in all our political parties has failed to uproot political violence. In some cases they actually seem to encourage and fan it by inflammatory speeches. We also don’t see perpetrators of violence in political parties punished by their own leadership.

We appeal for a new political spirit and a democratic culture among our political leaders and their members. Let us make 2016 different in terms of providing a better and tolerant political environment. Political party leaders at all levels must commit themselves to a peaceful electoral process and the control of their members. Political parties must choose candidates of good standing who are committed to the promotion of the common good.

We urge our leaders in government to be the torch-bearers in the promotion of true reconciliation and peace. The role of the District Commissioner (DC) in this electoral process must be watched and seriously scrutinised. DCs should not act and work as party cadres wherever they are and using government resources.

We are very concerned about the selective application of the Public Order Act by the Police Service. In many cases, it is applied almost always in favour of the ruling party and those they favour. This disadvantages opposition political parties. Police must sternly but impartially apply the law to quell violence.

We advise the youths to claim their genuine political space in the electoral process. They should refuse to be used as mere tools of violence by politicians. We call upon the media to be professional by reporting truthfully, objectively and factually as they inform the public. We urge them to provide equitable coverage in the electoral process and avoid being fronts of partisan politics. Whichever media platform one uses, should not fuel hate speech or insults in the name of the right to freely express oneself. We also want a responsible use and reception of social media.

We urge all Christians to use their prophetic voice in their communities to promote unity in the country and to denounce all forms of fraud in the electoral process. We urge them to refuse any politician to use their churches and liturgical functions as campaign forums.

We call upon our fellow church leaders to remain non-partisan yet vigilant. They must also keep the prophetic voice alive and denounce all forms of electoral malpractice and political violence.

Likewise, we appeal particularly to our own catholic priests to remain non-partisan. It is morally wrong for the catholic priest to use the pulpit to campaign for, or de-campaign any political party or parties or to give politicians any platform to speak during liturgical celebrations.

After so many aborted processes and huge expenditure of public resources, the President took a bold step and assented to the amendments of our Republican Constitution on 5th January 2016. This was despite the unresolved contest with stakeholders on the process and mode of adoption. The question now arises as to what next?

Government has not given any road map for the post assenting period with respect to the application of the new Constitution. Even as we move towards August elections, the new Constitution has implications that impinge on the elections and this should be looked at.

Further, even when the constitution has been assented to, there have been no efforts to make it easily accessible and affordable to the majority Zambians. If the President made this constitutional assent in good faith, we appeal to him to prevail over relevant ministries and government departments to popularize the new constitution and publicise the post assent constitutional roadmap.

Prior to the enactment of the constitution, the government promised the public that those articles that would be left out shall be subjected to the referendum that would run concurrently with the tripartite elections.

Sadly, the Bill of Rights has been sidelined. Many of the constitutional changes we need to make that could improve the people’s quality of life and dignity hinge on reforming the bill of rights. It is imperative that a clear and well defined roadmap on the proposed referendum be presented to the nation.

A new dangerous phenomenon that has cropped up in the Zambian politics is that of regionalism and tribalism. We should all be proud of our ethnic roots and love each other as God’s children. No tribe is more valuable or important than the other. What makes us great is our unity in diversity and we should all thank God for it.

The transition from 2015 into 2016 can be classified as a challenging period in as far as livelihoods of Zambians is concerned. The cost of living has gone up due to escalation in inflation. We are experiencing massive loss of jobs for bread winners and households are being left with no income. Although the major cause in the slump of the economy has been attributed to external factors, and while appreciating what the government is doing to offset the challenge, this situation must be arrested locally. Government should demonstrate commitment to good stewardship of financial resources during this time.

We also strongly appeal to all companies and employers that before retrenchments are carried out, other measures to achieve financial solvency must be attempted.

Zambia is experiencing unfavourable rain pattern. This pattern shows that the country’s food security will be under extreme pressure. In the case of calamity such as this, we urge the Zambian Government to plan ahead so that no Zambian citizen should go without food this year. The relevant government ministries should mobilize resources to assist those who will be in dire need of help. However, food relief should be not used to gain political mileage.

The climate change calls us to re-examine the way we take care of our common home, the earth. Pope Francis cautions us that if we do not take personal as well as corporate responsibility for the earth which is our home, we will destroy the home for our future generation (Laudato si, 2015, #14).

We also urge the government to put in place strong measures to monitor the exploitation of natural resources in Zambia by investors, both foreign and local.

We call upon our brothers and sisters to take this year as the year of tolerance and love. In the words St. Paul the Apostle, we make a special appeal to you to “make [our] joy complete by being of a single mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind. Nothing is to be done out of jealousy or vanity; instead, out of humility of mind everyone should give preference to others, everyone pursuing not self-interest but those of others” (Phi 2:2-4). Above all “do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody” (Rm 12:18).

We end with the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”

May the peace of the Lord remain with you all!

Issued at Kapingila House, Lusaka, Zambia on 23rd January, 2016 and signed by: Most Rev. Telesphore-George Mpundu, Archbishop of Lusaka and ZEC President, Rt. Rev. Alick Banda – Bishop of Ndola and ZEC Vice-President. Most Rev. Ignatius Chama, Archbishop Kasama and Apostolic Administrator of Mpika, Rt. Rev. Raymond Mpezele – Bishop of Livingstone, 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. Patrick Chilekwa Chisanga, OFM Conv. Bishop of Mansa, Rt. Rev. Moses Hamungole, Bishop of Monze, Rt. Rev. Benjamin Phiri – Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata, Rt. Rev. Aaron Chisha – Bishop Emeritus of Mansa. Mons. Justin Mulenga – Bishop Elect of Mpika

Click here to read the FULL PDF DOCUMENT of the Zambia Episcopal Conference Pastoral Statement – January 2016

Increased Interest Rates amidst Rising Inflation Worrying. JCTR ZAMBIA Press Release 11th November, 2015


JCTR Website LogoThe Central Statistical Office in its October press release announced an increase in inflation of 6.6 percentage points. The October inflation of 14.3 percent is almost double the September inflation of 7.7 percent. The sharp increased has been blamed on the depreciating Kwacha. To many Zambians, the increase is not a surprise but a confirmation of the escalating commodity prices most of which have more than doubled in the last few weeks.

The October Basic Needs Basket for a family of five living in Lusaka as measured by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) exhibited a very similar trend reflecting an increase of K302.1 from K3, 957.46 in September to K4, 249.56. Costs contributing to this was almost all of the food commodities (i.e. 12 out of the 15 food items had seen a rise in cost, the highest being that of Kapenta that saw a K50 increase). In comparison to the Lusaka October 2014 BNB (which stood at K3, 635.83) there has been a rise of over K600 (16.8% increase). It is also the first time that the Lusaka Basic Needs Basket has breached the K4, 000 barrier and thus a cause for concern to JCTR. This development is of great concern especially that the depreciation of the Kwacha continues unabated. The continued deficit in energy supply and the resultant decline in productivity will make recovery in cost of living even more difficult.  

In response to the rising inflation Bank of Zambia has raised the policy rate from 12.5 percent to 15.5 percent and also lifted the cap on lending rates by commercial banks. This monetary policy instrument is meant to curb the rising inflation and keep it within the single digit target for the year.  This raises one key concern in the midst of rising cost of doing business and declining productivity. While the policy may slow down inflation in the short run, it may further stifle productivity as investors hold back their investment due to increased cost of credit. Reduced productivity may in turn result in inflation through reduced supply of commodities. The Bank of Zambia should therefore balance well the need for low inflation and sustaining productivity. The move to raise interest rates will also hurt individuals with personal loans that have flexible interest rates as they will be required to repay their loans at the new rates. 

At a time of crisis like this the JCTR urges government to combine well its policy response to the current economic situation and not always trying to find quick fixes. Recently Government offloaded its reserves on to the market to protect the Kwacha from further depreciation but the Kwacha continues to depreciate and is currently trading at 14.02 (as noted on BoZ website). While these measures may yield temporal relief by way of dealing with the symptom of the problem and not the cause, Government needs to look at the bigger picture by devising long term solutions that lie in diversifying the economy. Raising of interest rate does not seem to be a good recipe for this long term approach to addressing the country’s current economic challenges such as improving value addition and growing our manufacturing industry.

JCTR Press Release June 2015 – Wages and Cost of Living


JCTR Press Release June 2015The issue of wages has been debated upon numerous times. This is mainly because the cost of living and monthly wages do not correspond with each other. This calls for salary reviews by both public and private sector employers. In doing this, social and economic variables should be considered that affect the employer as well as the employee.

The cost of living for the month of May 2015 as calculated by JCTR’s Basic Needs Basket (BNB) for an average family of five in Ndola, Luanshya, Kitwe and Mansa and Solwezi, indicates that the cost of living has fluctuated. Some towns have experienced an increase and others have experienced a decrease in the cost of living. These variations could have an adverse effect on the living conditions of people leaving in these areas especially in cases where salaries are unable to meet these increased costs.

The BNB for Kitwe for May stood at K2, 773.53 showing an increase of K282.29. This increase in the cost of living is attributed to the availability of certain commodities (Kapenta and Dry fish) that were unavailable in the previous month in markets visited. The BNB for Mansa in May stood at K2, 485.16, indicating an increase of K12.75 while that of Solwezi was calculated at K3, 232.96 in May, showing a minimal increase of K1.20.

In terms of BNBs showing reductions, the BNB for Ndola this May stood at K3, 494.79 showing a reduction of K110.23. The reduction is attributed to the cost of Dry Fish by K104.28, Kapenta by K14.28 and Beans by K3.34. While the Luanshya BNB in May was calculated at K2, 607.74 showing a reduction of K23.50.

Despite recording a reduction in the cost of living, residents of Ndola and Luanshya still have difficulties in affording basic needs, as in most instances, monthly incomes do not correspond to the cost of living. It should be noted that wages that allow employees meet their basic needs not only acts as a motivator for improved performance at work but gives the employee the chance to provide for their family. Thus improving the welfare (access to education, health and other social amenities) of more than just one community member and giving dignity to their lives.

Keeping in mind the cost of living and the need for basic commodities, JCTR appeals to the government to strengthen its laws on wages, especially the minimum wage. We also urge private sector employers and employees to reach a fair consensus on wages. Further as a way of mitigating costs at household level, household should look for ways to diversify their incomes and minimize expenditures e.g. through setting up vegetable gardens. Employers and employees also need to work together to set up ways in which they could be more productive as this will raise revenues and allow for higher wages to employees.

Kitwe 2015 May BNB Press Release