It was a terrifying day of brutal violence. Exactly one year ago on May 31, 2013, a militia sent by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) broke into the Bible Gospel Church of Africa (BIGOCA) in Matero, brutally assaulting the attendees with sticks, pangas, axe handles, and knives, forcing some to flee out the windows to escape the horror.
The crime committed by those gathered at the church? It was merely the first ‘Black Friday’ gathering of civil society organisations to discuss the controversial removal of maize subsidies … and for that act alone, they were attacked.
Among those injured in the violent attack was Bishop John Mambo, leader of the Chikondi Foundation. At the time, Bishop Mambo reacted furiously, proclaiming his determination to help civil society groups make the PF accountable for their criminal conduct: “When people are hurting, the voice that should be heard is the voice of the church,” he said.
Now Bishop Mambo has reportedly been given a well salaried position from one of the PF’s top supporters and political kingmakers, Rajan Mahtani. This appointment raises questions – has Mahtani bought out Bishop Mambo for his silence, or is Mahtani in fact seeking to hedge his bets with influential opposition leaders in the event that the PF are chucked out in 2016?
According to PACRA documentation obtained by Zambia Reports, Bishop Mambo was illegally appointed to the board of Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC), a company whose original owners say was stolen from them through forgery and violations of court orders by Mahtani.
Bishop Mambo has a long history of bravely speaking out against Mahtani’s party, the PF.
Just this weekend, Bishop Mambo called upon his followers to pray for a new constitution. As recently as April 16 of this year, Bishop Mambo called upon the PF to halt their violent intimidation of opposition leaders and civil activists. He has been steadfast in his attacks against Wynter Kabimba for manipulating the constitution process, and he has strongly criticised President Michael Sata’s performance.
So Mahtani’s appointment of Mambo is likely to raise even more questions among his friends in the PF that helped return Finance Bank to him within two weeks of taking power, as well as the allegations that Mahtani is partially financing Zambian Watchdog, one of the most aggressively critical websites.
It is no secret that the country has in recent years witnessed an influx of clergymen who have come in form of pastors, prophets, brothers or bishops, some of whom have no congregations to talk about.
The ‘men of God’, as they claim, have had it easy because they are believed to be preaching the word of God and helping some people turn to the Lord. Some of such clergymen are only known to wear expensive suits in church or indeed appear on television sets preaching the word in a manner they feel fulfills the biblical teachings.
But a scrutiny of some of these men of God only confirms the saying ‘Follow what I say and not what I do’ because they have completely nothing in their lives to show that they follow God’s word.
Bishop Mambo may be an exception to this class of clergymen, as his good deeds for society are widely admired.
As the former Church of God overseer, has expressed his love for others by establishing Nyamphande Orphanage, located in Rufunsa, 120 km from Lusaka on the Great East Road.
Bishop Mambo says he served as Church of God national overseer for 16 years, a period which enabled to travel to various parts of the country and see how people live. He says during his tour of duty, he once witnessed how the people of Nyamphande area suffered especially the children who could not even attend school despite being so close to Lusaka.
He says Nyamphande Orphanage started as a community school under a Musamba tree in 1996 catering for 15 grade one pupils and three of them graduated in 2007 and ready to pursue further studies in medicine and accountancy.
He says Chief Mpashya provided a piece of land on which the orphanage, school and clinic have been built with the assistance of some well-wishers for the benefit of vulnerable children and the entire community.
It is difficult to reconcile Bishop Mambo’s good works and his relations with the PF’s top financier who has been making a bad name for Zambia in the international media. As Bishop Mambo once said, “These things that are happening like the harassment of opposition leaders through arrests and refusal to hold political meetings are sending wrong signals to the outside world. We are in the news for arrest of opposition leaders, beating of church leaders and also cadres maiming each other. We need to re-think the path we have set our country on because it will be difficult to recover.”
Are these the words of Mahtani’s new employee? Or is Mahtani getting ready to sabotage the PF?