Zambia’s United Party for National Development (UPND) has castigated the Seventh-day Adventist Church for reportedly criticising President Hakainde Hichilema for his recent meeting with the head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis at the Vatican.
UPND activist, Joseph Kalimbwe, said the SDA Church has no moral authority to criticise Hichilema, a devout Adventist, over his meeting with the Pope after the church failed to speak out when the former opposition leader was unjustly jailed by the government of his predecessor, Edgar Lungu. Said Kalimbwe:
Our leader, Hakainde Hichilema was beaten & put in prison; the SDA was silent. The Catholic church spoke out while the SDA said they “don’t involve themselves in politics” & watched their son be treated as an outcast. Now they complain of him meeting the Pope. Give me a break!
Hichilema was received by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday morning and later met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Mirosław Stanisław Wachowski, the Undersecretary for the Relations with States at The Holy See.
According to Lusaka Times, Pope Francis presented Hichilema with a mosaic of the biblical figure of Noah, with the words “With Noah God opens a way of salvation, for the creation and for every human being.”
For his part, Hichilema offered Pope Francis a sculpture in wood and copper representing the typical musical instruments of Zambia.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vatican News on the sidelines of his visit to the Vatican, Hichilema said:
I am glad to be here, and I am grateful to the Vatican and the establishment for giving us this opportunity to meet the Pope early in our presidency -we are still less than six months into office. We are really grateful.
We as a government will embrace all religious organisations in our country. They all have space, and they all have the right to basically promote their evangelical work.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has intense disdain for the Roman Catholic Church, and the Papacy, and considers the two institutions the Harlot Church of Revelation and the Antichrist, respectively.