And Forum for Leadership Search (FLS) executive director Edwin Lifwekelo has said the old edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report has been distorted and panel-beaten by The Post newspaper to give an impression that there was a fresh one with the motive of causing a rift between the Government and the Catholic Church.
Mr Mabenga said in an interview that it was not fair for thenewspaper to open old wounds between the Government and the Catholic Church when the two parties were enjoying a good relationship.
The Post newspaper yesterday carried a story in which it was quoting what it called the EIU’s latest report claiming that the State-owned media’s campaign against the Catholic Church could dent support for the MMD among Zambia’s 3,000,000 Catholics.
The report further claimed that the forthcoming elections could lead to a transfer of power from President Rupiah Banda to Patriotic Front (PF) leader Michael Sata.
But Mr Mabenga said the report was not correct because there was no rift between the Government and the Catholic Church, adding that the two were partners in development.
Mr Mabenga urged the newspaper not to open wounds wherereconciliation had already been made in order for them to achieve their own interests, adding that the Catholic Church and the Government were enjoying a good relationship that no one could destroy.
And Independent Churches of Zambia board chairperson David Masupa has cautioned The Post newspaper against fueling disturbances where peace was thriving, saying the report was false because there were Catholic members in the MMD like in other political parties.
Rev Masupa said it was unprofessional for The Post to fabricate such a story when the Government and the Catholic Church were working towards developing the nation.
He urged Catholics not to take such reports seriously because they were aimed at swaying the people from supporting the MMD in favour of Mr Sata.
Rev Masupa said Cardinal Medardo Mazombwe, who is head of the Catholic Church in Zambia, made it clear that the alleged attacksshould not be viewed as the official reflection of the Catholic Church but that of individual members who were at will to choose who they wanted to support.
He appealed to members of the Catholic Church to choose credible leaders with a heart for the interest of Zambians.
Meanwhile, Mr Lifwekelo said the old edition of the EIU report had been distorted and panel-beaten by The Post newspaper to give an impression that there was a fresh one with the motive of causing a rift between the Government and the Catholic Church.
Mr Lifwekelo said the report that was quoted in yesterday’s edition of The Post newspaper was an old one which all the newspapers wrote about last month but the newspaper wanted to continue with its attempt to divide the Government with the Catholic Church.
On Friday last week, Mr Lifwekelo revealed that The Post newspaper of Saturday would run a story based on an old edition of the EIU report in an effort to campaign for Mr Sata by giving an impression that the Catholic Church had differed with the Government despite clarifications by the priests and the Government.
The Post story gave a wrong impression that Mr Sata was ahead of President Banda in this year’s presidential elections when thereport says the opposite.
Mr Lifwekelo condemned the type of journalism where news stories were fabricated without much care for the profession.
The story charged that the Government would lose because of the three million Catholics who The Post said would vote for PF.
Mr Lifwekelo wondered how this could be so when thedifferences were long buried and not all Catholics were PF members.
He said The Post were desperate to prop their candidate by coming up with false information.
Mr Lifwekelo said the report was being distorted in light of theanalysis by veteran politician and parliamentary chief Whip Vernon Mwaanga, who predicted that President Banda would win by huge margins because of the gains his Government had amassed lately.
He wondered why The Post was repeating old stories which it published last month because the EIU had not published its latest report.
Meanwhile, officials at the United States Embassy, speaking oncondition of anonymity said the latest report was not yet out and those who had such a report had merely fabricated it.
The officials said the only report available was the one that was quoted last month as revealing that President Banda was ahead because of the economic growth and the politics of incumbency.
“Real GDP growth is focused at seven per cent in 2011 and 7.2 per cent in 2012 underpinned by subsidies for producers of maize, investments in mining, fiscal incentives for investors in the priority sectors and a sharp rise in public investment,” the report says./Times