MINISTER of Home Affairs
Edgar Lungu has described the relations between the Catholic Church and the
Patriotic Front government as solid.
This is despite the deportation of Catholic priest Viateur Banyangadora who has
followed up his deportation with an attack on President Sata and his
“The relations between government, the Catholic Church and the Rwandan
government have remained solid despite the deportation of the Rwandese Catholic
priest,” said Mr Lungu in an interview yesterday.
The Catholic priest, back in his native Rwanda has, meanwhile, attacked
President Sata’s leadership.
Sections of the Zambian media have quoted the priest as saying: “You see,
my deportation back home was absurd. I have (sic) in Zambia for a long time now. The
people there are great. I was in Zambia under Mr (Rupiah) Banda and
I can tell you he wasn’t like that. He allowed criticism.
“But that cannot be said about the incumbent [Micheal (sic)] Sata. He is a very
arrogant man. And so are his ministers. He is (sic) man who doesn’t allow
anyone to criticise him. When you do, he sends police officers to your home.”
The priest is also quoted as saying Mr Sata’s government may not rule after
But speaking in an interview yesterday, Mr Lungu elaborated on the deportation.
“We deported the man because he had no legal papers to remain in Zambia,” Mr
Lungu said and continued: “We later came to learn about his divisive sermons
after his deportation, which he has not even challenged.”
The minister said despite not having valid legal papers to work in Zambia, the priest overstretched Zambia’s
hospitality and started preaching hate and divisions.
He described as “desperate” attempts by opposition parties and sections of the
media to try and politicise the deportation when keeping the priest in Zambia “spelled
“What the opposition and some sections of the media which are not credible are
doing, is to clutch on straws like drowning men,” Mr Lungu said, “but I can
tell you it won’t work because the PF is miles ahead of them…they are like
specks in the rear view mirror of a cruising car. We are working for the people
as they play cheap politics,” he said.
Mr Lungu said “as a responsible government, we know what hate messages spread
by people like this priest have done in the region and we would be failing in
our duty if we stood by and did nothing while divisions are being encouraged.”
And reacting to complaints from Transparency International Zambia executive
director Goodwell Lungu and Reverend George Lungu of Chipata over the
deportation, the minister writes in his letter dated August 13, 2012 that the
priest has not even appealed.
“We have received no appeal from Father Viateur Banyangandora nor a retraction
of his anti-government speeches which had the effect of creating unnecessary
hostility between church members and Government,” Mr Lungu writes in a letter
copied to President Sata.
Both had written to Government on August 8 2012, to complain about the
deportation, but Mr Lungu writes: “Whilst appreciating your counsel to the
ministry on the issue of Father Viateur Banyangandora’s deportation, I wish to
advise that an appeal against deportation is a right that the affected person
He added: “An appeal from Father Banyangandora is what will form a basis for
review of his case.”
On Sunday, about 130 Catholic Diocesan Priests, who attended a national
conference in Chipata asked Government to consider revoking the deportation
A statement from the Association of Zambian Diocesan Catholic Clergy urged
Government to issue a comprehensive statement.
The priests implored the Catholic community and priests in Chipata Diocese, and
Zambians to remain calm, peaceful and prayerful as they await Fr
They said Fr Banyangandora is an effective and committed member of the Catholic
Church since his ordination to priesthood in 2004.
The statement was issued by Chipata Diocese Bishop Reverend Geroge Lungu and
was read on Sunday in all the Diocesan Catholic parishes in Eastern Province.
And the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has called on Government to revoke
the deportation order.
A pastoral letter issued in Lusaka yesterday by CCZ general secretary Suzanne
Matale reads in part: “The deportation of the Catholic priest, Fr Viateur
Banyangandora, pastor of Lundazi, is totally unacceptable and unfortunate.
“The CCZ is calling for the nullification of his deportation.”