from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE issue of same-sex relationships has returned to divide Zambia, pitting the government on one side and the opposition and church on the other.
The latest divisions emanate from a statement attributed to the Chief Justice, Mumba Malila, who is quoted calling for the respect of gay rights in the country.
Critics of the government of President Hakainde Hichilema claim this is because his administration is cosying up to Western governments, in betrayal of Zambia’s Pan-Africanism ideals.
“If the statement attributed to the Chief Justice is true, then this statement doesn’t come as a surprise,” said Sensio Banda, former legislator of the opposition Patriotic Front (PF).
PF was the ruling party until 2021 when the United Party for National Development (UPND) won elections.
He added, “We know for a fact that many avenues are being explored to push the LGBTQ agenda in Zambia.”
LGBTQ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
Banda said the proponents and agents of LGBTQ in Zambia had previously tried to use the other two wings of government – the executive and legislature- to advocate for same-sex rights.
“Conversely, the only available avenue is the judiciary, this government wing looks very promising towards entrenching the LGBTQ agenda,” Banda said.
“It’s possible because, firstly, it is one of the sources of law and secondly, if the agenda succeeds, the political order pushing the agenda will simply say, ‘It is not us who pushed the agenda but an apolitical government wing, the judiciary’.”
Banda urged Zambians and the church in particular to “open their eyes and act accordingly.”
“This battle is more spiritual than anything else, the body of Christ in Zambia needs to take a stand, without which, God will hold us accountable of what might become of Zambia,” he said.
The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) said it was “disturbed” by calls for the respect of gay rights in the Southern African country.
“We would like to place it on record that this is a matter of grave concern to the body of Christ in Zambia, as calling for the recognition of gay rights is unconstitutional and against our Christian heritage and values,” the organisation stated.
EFZ argued Zambia was “under siege by foreign forces” amid the calls to protect same-sex liaisons.
The organisation said it had observed isolated actions or statements from national leaders attempting to “sneak in an agenda contrary to our cherished national values.”
“The church in Zambia and the Zambian people strongly oppose such maneuvers. We will not tolerate them in this land,” EFZ vowed.
Anti-gay activists have previously spoken against the flying of rainbow flags at some foreign embassies in Zambia, fashion shows being turned into gay parades and the government’s employing a technocrat for “key and vulnerable populations.”
Same-sex relationships are outlawed in Zambia.
In a prominent case, in 2020, two men in their 30s were each sentenced to 15 years in jail, causing a fallout between Zambia and the United States.
So bad was the tiff that the US recalled its ambassador and threatened to cut aid.
Current president Hichilema is widely viewed as a blue-eyed boy for the United States and Europe, whose leadership style favours foreign ideologies, cultures and traditions at the expense of pan Africanism.
– CAJ News