The role of the Catholic Church in the 2011 Elections in Zambia

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Simutowe, Fighton
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University of Zambia
The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the Catholic Church in the 2011 tripartite or general elections. The study was conducted in Lusaka and Mansa Districts of Zambia. The sample consisted of thirty (30) respondents. Twenty (20) of these were male and ten (10) were female. Three (3) of the thirty respondents were key informants. The remaining twenty-seven (27) respondents consisted of 5 non-Catholic, 7 Caritas Zambia workers, 10 clergy men and 5 politicians. The study used qualitative research design. The study was a narrative case study. Purposive sampling technique was used. Interview guides were employed in the collection of primary data from the respondents. In-depth interviews were conducted to help the researcher in getting the much needed data. Theme and content analysis structured around the research questions were used to analyse qualitative data. Employing this type of analysis technique, the researcher adhered to the following steps: Firstly, the researcher perused the collected data through interviews and identified information that was relevant to the research questions. Irrelevant information not related to the specific objectives and research questions was separated from relevant information. Secondly, the researcher identified themes from the respondents’ description of their experiences. All material relevant to a certain theme was placed together. Thirdly, verbatims were used to present the findings. Verbatims reflect the deep thoughts and feelings of the respondents on what their convictions were concerning the role of the Catholic Church in the 2011 tripartite elections. Results suggest that the Catholic Church played a number of roles in the 2011 elections. These roles included: the monitoring of elections, the provision of checks and balances on governance issues through collaboration with the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), among others. The findings also indicate that through Caritas Zambia, the Catholic Church recruited and trained 10 850 election monitors; provided civic education to the general public on their rights and duties as citizens and collaborated with seven other Civil Society Election Coalition (CSEC) members. Results also suggest that the Catholic Church presented to the nation a true reflection of the will of the people in the election as attested to by the Electoral Commission of Zambia’s announcement of the final results in September, 2011. The following were the recommendations: The Church should continue to play the critical role of advocacy on matters of social, economic and political developments in Zambia, the top leadership of the three Church Mother Bodies comprising priests, bishops, pastors, among others, should continue playing a non-partisan role in the political field. Finally, the Church in general should continue to play the critical role of providing checks and balances on matters of governance to any sitting Government with impartiality.
Elections--Zambia , Catholic Church-Doctrines , Christianity and Policies-Catholic Church , Church and State-Catholic Church