News / Africa

    Priest in Politician’s Clothing Eyes Top Seat in Zambia

    Roman Catholic priest Frank Bwalya (in red) and supporters hold red cards to display their displeasure with the government as they attend a rally in front of the National Assembly, in Lusaka, Zambia, March 22, 2011.Roman Catholic priest Frank Bwalya (in red) and supporters hold red cards to display their displeasure with the government as they attend a rally in front of the National Assembly, in Lusaka, Zambia, March 22, 2011.
    x
    Roman Catholic priest Frank Bwalya (in red) and supporters hold red cards to display their displeasure with the government as they attend a rally in front of the National Assembly, in Lusaka, Zambia, March 22, 2011.
    Roman Catholic priest Frank Bwalya (in red) and supporters hold red cards to display their displeasure with the government as they attend a rally in front of the National Assembly, in Lusaka, Zambia, March 22, 2011.
    Anita Powell
    Zambia’s government is not delivering on its promises, says a prominent critic who used to support President Michael Sata. The Rev. Frank Bwalya, a Catholic priest, says Sata’s administration is cracking down on the opposition and on critics - and he says the public outrage is prompting him to trade in his clerical collar for a politician’s suit.

    Bwalya pulls from the Bible to describe his home country of Zambia and the president he once supported, but now vigorously opposes.

    “The promised land is still there. The problem is that Moses is refusing to step aside. And while he is resisting to step aside, he is becoming destructive," said Bwalya. "That is the problem. If he had not become destructive, we would have been patient, to say, let him go all the way and take him to the point where somebody else is supposed to take over. But now that he has become destructive we can not wait, to stop him. And by stopping him I do not mean to remove him by force. I do not mean that.”

    Running for office

    That is Bwalya’s way of saying he plans to run against Sata in 2016. He said his new party does not yet have a platform. In fact, it still has no name. But he said he wants to bring in new ideas and get rid of old ones, to reduce corruption and cut politicians’ perks, and to use experts to solve problems in the copper-rich nation.

    In this way, he fits the mold of many African opposition movements, defined more by their opposition than by their positions.

    Bwalya supported Sata when he ran in 2011. Bwalya recently joined a growing number of critics, however, who say the president has reneged on his promises to bring development and fight corruption, and has instead cracked down on the opposition.

    Bwalya is not alone in making such allegations. Last year, the U.S. State Department documented unlawful killings, torture, arrests of critics and restrictions of freedoms in Zambia.

    Why Sata changed his tune, said Bwalya, he does not know.

    “It is a question that every Zambian is asking: ‘What has happened to the president? Is he hijacked or has hijacked himself?’ But we all do not know, to be very honest, why he has turned around like this," he said. "Why he has started doing the same things that made us support him to become president, those same things we condemned."

    Taking exception

    Zambia's Vice President Guy Scott said Bwalya is being overdramatic.  

    “I mean, it is a little bit overwrought, overplayed, this argument. I mean, he is the president, he is supposed to govern the country. And we have a parliament, which is supposed to pass laws and so on and so forth," said Scott. "So, where you draw the line between authority and I suppose what you would call abuse of authority is really the question. And I do not think I see a very concrete definition of authority abused by our side, by our government or our president.”

    Scott acknowledged that the southern African nation has human-rights issues to address, but said few can be attributed to Sata’s Patriotic Front.

    “These are human-rights issues going way back before the election that brought us to power. Some of them have said, 'Yes, somebody should not have been locked up for two nights in jail, in police cells and so forth.' But the majority of these violations are two things: first of all, the majority of these violations are ongoing problems, like the conditions of police cells are a violation of human rights because it’s been 40 years, or nearly 50 years, since anyone maintained the water system in police stations. I mean, it is not us who suddenly created all the conditions that people are saying are abusive of human rights,” said Scott.

    Bwalya's combination of being a politician in priest's clothing might unsettle some international-rights campaigners. He said that if he is elected president, he has no plans to change the country’s laws that criminalize homosexuality. He said he fully supports the church’s positions on birth control, but added that he will follow his Cabinet ministers’ policies on such issues even if they conflict with his faith.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.