Zambia: church groups condemn murder of leading politician

 The murder of Zambian opposition politician Paul Tembo hours before he was due to "name name's" at a corruption tribunal has shocked civil society in the country. The Oasis Forum, an alliance of Church leaders, lawyers and NGOs said it was "horrified" by the slaying. It is the latest in a string of murders of opposition politicians. Two unknown intruders killed Tembo in the early hours of July 6th at home in front of his wife. Many Zambians fear it was a politically motivated murder. Fr Joe Komakoma, a CAFOD partner working for the Catholic Commission of Justice and Peace, said: "I hope it was simply a botched robbery, but the suspicion is that it was a political assassination." Tembo had recently defected from the ruling party after falling out with his former ally President Chiluba. He was killed just hours before he had been scheduled to testify to a state tribunal investigating the transfer of over half a million dollars from government coffers to the ruling party. Thousands attended the funeral of Tembo at St Ignatius Church in Lusaka on Monday. In his homily, Fr Ray Thaden SJ said Zambians were seeing there country change from being a peaceful one to a place where "there political leaders fight for power - not simply with words and the principles of verbal persuasion." At the same time as the funeral, on the other side of town, President Chiluba opened the 37th annual Organisation for African Unity (OAU) Summit, an organisation ironically pledged to bring peace to the continent. The Catholic Church in Zambia was at the forefront of the campaign to stop President Chiluba seeking an unconstitutional third term in office. Having for the moment succeeded in preventing the President clinging to power, Church groups are pledging to do all they can to put a stop to political violence and bring to book corrupt political leaders. Fr Joe KomaKoma said: "We can be up at the front, campaigning for a change in political will to ensure all politicians use there influence to stop political violence."

Share this story