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The Holy Father, Pope Francis,argues that if indeed "the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics," the Church, "cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice" (Cf. EvangeliiGaudium, #183).

Since 1999, Caritas Zambia has been publishing an annual State of the Nation report aimed atanalysing the social-economic and political situation of the previous year. The State of the Nation then, was normally released every January. In this new structure of the publication, Caritas Zambia will be producing an analysis of the State of the Nation covering the period from June of the previous year, to June the following year. The analysis will cover key government decisions and policies pertaining to social - economic and political situation of the country and their impact on the livelihoods of the people, especially the poor.

This new look State of the Nation is being published at a time when Zambia has experienced numerous social-economic and political challenges that have shaken its resolve to promote and uphold the tenets of democracy. Caritas Zambia regrets to note that since 2013, there has been a heightened level of political violence resulting from political intolerance among the leaders of major political parties and their followers. The opposition political parties have been, more often than not, on the receiving end. They have been denied freedom to mobilize Zambians in order to sell their messages and on numerous occasions, they were met with police brutality. The incidences involving Dr. Nevers Mumba, the MMD leader, who was forced to meet his supporters in the bush in Eastern Province as a result of police teargasing the hall where the meeting was taking place and Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, the UPND President, whose house was raided in the middle of the night, are such cases in point. At the core of this undemocratic behavior were the Zambia Police who were clearly biased in the execution of their duties especially when dealing with violent behavior of the ruling party cadres and that of the opposition. Many times members of the opposition took complaints to the police, they ended up being arrested and accused of causing the breach of peace and being violent themselves. This created the impunity that we saw before and after the 2016 elections and somewhat continues up to the time of this analysis. What happened to the people who attacked mourners at the memorial park cemetery during the burial of a UPND supporter? What investigations have been done to find the culprits of this incident? So those who committed the heinous crime at the grave-site are laughing away with impunity, while the victims are nursing life-long wounds and scars.

Our collective failure to realize the danger that was being created by introducing cadres in the civil service has brought us to where we are today. Despite being a deeply polarized and divided nation, there are many who continue to burry their heads in the sand and pretend that all is well.

Unfortunately, the over-shadowing nature of political tension in Zambia has been affecting economic performance of the country. During the whole of 2016, the prices of commodities kept rising and the livelihoods of most people were becoming unbearable. While this was happening, social services were under pressure. Hospitals were running without essential drugs and the quality of education especially in public schools was deteriorating. Although schools and health centers were being built, the government was not employing adequate personnel to run them. These and other issues form the bulk of this analysis and we hope that our voice will be heard not only by those who govern, but also the ordinary men and women in Zambia, whose rights are indispensable.

Caritas Zambia hopes and prays that concrete steps will be taken by all key stakeholders in this nation to address the critical issues affecting our people, especially those that are poor and neglected. Indeed, time has come for us to engage in genuine dialogue aimed at reconciliation at all levels; political, economic, social, ethical and spiritual.

Fr. Cleophas Lungu

ZCCB Secretary General

The entire State of the Nation can be downloaded here: http://caritaszambia.org/index.php/publications/state-of-the-nation/file/121-the-state-of-the-nation-2016-june-2017

About CARITAS Zambia

CARITAS Zambia is a Catholic Organization that is an integral structure of the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC). The Episcopal Conference (or Bishops Conference) is a permanent grouping of Bishops of a given nation or territory that jointly exercises certain pastoral functions on behalf of the Christian faithful of their territory. This they do to promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind

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