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Zambia's leader opens personal attack on archbishop

Catholic World News - March 04, 2010

Zambia's President Frederick Chiluba is trying to silence the voice of the Catholic Church by loosing an ad hominem attack, Lusaka's Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has charged. The archbishop spoke out after Chiluba called attention to an affair between the prelate's sister and an opposition politician.

While conceding that his sister had borne children with Michael Sata, a leader of the Patriotic Front, Archbishop Mpundu said the charges were a cynical attempt to deflect attention from the government's own problems. His sister's liaison with Sata had been "common knowledge," he said, even in the days when Chiluba and Sata were political allies. By bringing up the subject now, the archbishop continued, was clearly trying to discredit the Church.

Archbishop Mpundu said that he is not a member of the Patriotic Front himself, and takes no active role in partisan politics. But in the eyes of President Chiluba, he charged, "Everything is political: food security, health care, education, social and economic justice for all, etc."

The archbishop vowed that the personal attack would not deter him from criticizing the government. "We have a right and duty to call the leaders we put in power to account and that doesn’t mean we want political power,” he said.

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