A Catholic priest in Zambia has been deported for a Sunday sermon in which he preached about justice for cotton growers.
Father Viateur Banyangandora, a Rwandan, was picked up at his residence at Lundazi by police at about 5pm on July 30, and taken to Lusaka, the Zambian capital, for questioning, said parochial vicar Father Evan Sakala.
Father Sakala said police referred to comments Father Banyangandora made in which he castigated the government over its handling of an impasse between cotton growers and cotton ginners. The authorities apparently considered these comments capable of inciting people to rise against the government.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Edgar Lungu, confirmed that the 40-year-old priest was sent to his homeland on August 1. “Father Banyangandora’s conduct was found to be a danger to peace and good order in Zambia,” he said.
Bishop George Lungu of Chipata diocese said it was unfair that the government security service did not inform him before deporting Father Banyangandora.
He said he felt the priest deported from Zambia was harassed, intimidated and hounded out of the country.
Bishop Lunga said he would not rest until the government explained what happened to Father Banyangandora, whom he described as his son in Christ.
The bishop, who was speaking during the ordination of five priests and a deacon, broke down and, after a minute of silence, encouraged the ordained priests not to be intimidated. He said they had the right to speak on behalf of the voiceless facing injustice.
The Zambian government and the Cotton Association of Zambia have been unable to reach an agreement on the price of cotton being paid to growers.
The stalemate has led the association to halt the sale of cotton to the Cotton Ginners Association of Zambia, which offered a price more than 50 per cent lower than in 2011. The impasse has led some farmers to burn cotton stockpiles in protest.
Image: Hindu Business Line
News category: World News.