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‘We’re not joking here,’ Archbishop Phiri blasts police, bans politicians from speaking in Ndola Archdiocese (Video)


Newly appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Ndola, Father Benjamin Phiri, has strongly condemned Zambia police’s action in disrupting church services in the diocese last Sunday.

Phiri expressed deep concern over the incident, describing it as a blatant violation of the fundamental right to freedom of religion and assembly.

Speaking during a thanksgiving church service for the establishment of Ndola as an Archdiocese on Wednesday, Phiri also announced a ban on political activities in the Church, citing the creation of divisions.

The Archbishop referred to an incident at Divine Mercy Parish where a 66-year-old parishioner, Kamwale Phiri, was arrested for taking photographs of the heavy police presence around the Church.

The incident occurred as police were allegedly hounding out opposition leaders, including ex-president Edgar Lungu and Citizens First Party leader Harry Kalaba, who were attending services at various churches.

“If you get any request that this one wants to pray, does he have to announce that he wants to pray? Why can’t he just come and sit in the crowd like everyone else?” Phiri questioned.

Read More: Zambia Police deny storming Ndola Catholic Church

He emphasized that no politician, whether from the ruling party or opposition, would be allowed to speak anymore. “You are bringing confusion in the house of God. Politicians who want to pray can come to pray but don’t give them a platform to talk. I don’t want to hear that any priest allowed a politician to speak in church,” he stated.

Phiri reiterated that no politician was special, whether from the ruling party or not, and they would no longer get the privilege of preaching hatred in church. “We are not playing, we are not joking here. I found it strange, and I do not know which law is being used by the police officers for them to detain a congregant without sufficient reasoning,” he said.

Phiri also stated that it was not prohibited to take pictures in the country, especially if a person is within their own premises. “When I was told of the police presence, I asked what the police were looking for and was told it looked like they were looking for opposition leaders. I said the Church is the wrong place to look for opposition leaders. I advised my leaders to continue monitoring the situation and report to me,” he concluded.

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