Bishops Point to Zambia's Top Priority

LUSAKA, Zambia, FEB. 3, 2004 ( Zambia’s bishops reminded the government that its top priority should be to help the poor.

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«A situation in which 80% of the population has no productive means to satisfy its needs can only be described as a crisis,» observed Bishop Telesphore Mpundu of Mpika, president of the episcopal conference, in the wake of its recent meeting.

«We call on the government to do everything possible to alleviate the suffering of our people; in the state budget top priority must be given to the social factor and aid to the poor,» he said in a Missionary Service News Agency report today.

In addition to the poverty level in this southern African nation of 10 million, the bishops referred to the anti-corruption campaign introduced last year by President Levy Mwanawasa. That campaign is affecting a large part of the ruling class that was tied to former head of state Frederick Chiluba.

Mwanawasa has accused Chiluba and his cohorts of misappropriating about $80 million over 10 years.

«This moralizing campaign is also a challenge for the Church, which has the duty to form, on a personal and spiritual level, the new ruling class, reminding that the main objective of politics is the well-being of the nation and people,» Bishop Mpundu said.

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