A video posted on WhatsApp groups went viral of a person purporting to be a pastor from the Seventh Day-Adventist Church (SDA), giving a discourse and quoting the Republican President of Zambia, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema’s post on his official Facebook page, criticizing his visit to the Vatican on religious grounds. The video was also posted on The media Response Facebook page on 22nd February, 2022. The video in circulation caused mixed reactions on various WhatsApp groups and social media in some sections of the public. The remarks by some members of the public on social media platforms criticizing the President’s recent meeting with the Pope at the Vatican also made the government become concerned.
The Fact Checking has determined as false the claim in the video and social media remarks that the visit of President Hakainde Hichilema to Vatican was on religious grounds. On 24th February 2022, the two Presidents of the governing bodies of the SDA Church in Zambia released a joint official statement clarifying that the role of the President as head of State should not be mixed with his religious affiliation. In addition, the Church clarified that the purported Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Pastor who went viral on social media, condemning the visit, is not a bona-fide member of the church as he ceased because of his extremist views and criticism of the church. Following remarks from the members of the public on social media platforms criticizing the President’s recent meeting with the Pope at the Vatican, the Chief Government Spokesperson Chushi Kasanda in a statement, also clarified that President Hakainde Hichilema did not visit the Vatican as an Adventist but as a Head of State whose citizens belong to various religious persuasions including Catholics and is a president for all Zambians, who belong to different denominations. Ms Kasanda further clarified that the President’s visit to the Vatican comes against a backdrop of Government’s re-introduction of free education in which the Catholics continue to play a key role especially in the lives of the disadvantaged children in the rural parts of Zambia. This is affirmed on President Hakainde Hichilema face book page in which he said, the Church played a pivotal role in areas of education, health and the promotion of democracy and good governance in Zambia. Therefore, the criticism that President Hichilema had visited the Pope at Vatican on religious grounds, is false.