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Zambia: Oblate Bishop Paul Duffy Attacked for Speaking on Behalf of the Poor

January 21st, 2010

2africa5Oblate Bishop Paul Duffy of Mongu diocese, who has been doing missionary work for the last 25 years in Zambia’s Western Province, called on the Government of Zambia to help the poor by fulfilling a campaign promise to rebuild the main road and provide more economic opportunities for local people.

Bishop Duffy said the Western Province of Zambia still rates as the poorest in the whole country and that poor people are still waiting to see promises fulfilled. This was especially true regarding the Mongu-Kalabo road, which has been in a worsening state for several years. He went on to say that people keep hearing promises from government leaders, but are still waiting for action.

Government leaders in Zambia are angrily rebuking Bishop Duffy’s statements. A group affiliated with the ruling party is petitioning the Vatican’s representative. Western Province of Zambia ranks as the poorest province and suffers more from high poverty levels, low economic production and poor neglected infrastructure. In Western Province, the majority of children are unable to meet basic nutritional needs. Most women are highly disadvantaged and live in extreme poverty, vulnerable to HIV/AIDS as they are forced to engage in risky behaviors for economic survival. The Diocese of Mongu is involved in several development projects, runs HIV/AIDS programs and the only teacher’s training college in the region, supports the catholic radio station and operates hunger relief programs for the local people.

The Bishop’s statement has received support from all civil society groups in Zambia, development organizations like Caritas Mongu and from a local member of parliament who said that he totally agrees with Bishop Paul Duffy’s statement because the President of Zambia is the one who gave these promises to the people of Lukulu and that people voted for him on the basis that he was going to implement all those development programs.

In a show of solidarity, Zambia Oblate treasurer general Fr Godfrey Mpundu OMI described Bishop Duffy as a voice of the voiceless in Western Province. Fr. Mpundu suggested the ruling government leadership review its own record in Western Province over the last 25 years which coincides with the time that Bishop Duffy has been doing missionary work in the region.

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