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Zambia seeks divine help to tackle economic woes

Zambia has seen its kwacha currency tumble nearly 50 percent against the dollar this year.

Edgar Lungu (l) talks to foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba during a military exhibition march past on 24 October, 2014 to mark Zambia's 50th Independence celebration. Picture: AFP.

LUSAKA - Zambians took part in a national day of prayer on Sunday seeking divine help for the country's economic woes following a collapse in global copper prices.

Zambia, Africa's second biggest copper producer, has seen its kwacha currency tumble nearly 50 percent against the dollar this year, driving up food prices.

Responding to an appeal from President Edgar Lungu, churches across the southern African nation conducted prayer services.

All Sunday soccer matches were postponed and bars and restaurants were encouraged to close in a bid to encourage more Zambians to join the prayer gatherings.

"I personally believe that since we humbled ourselves and cried out to God, the Lord has heard our cry," Lungu said in an address on Sunday. "I appeal to all of you to do your best and leave the rest to God."

Its 1996 constitution designates Zambia officially as a Christian nation.

Its economic woes have also caused power shortages.

"The shortage of electricity has affected all of us. Companies are scaling down production and laying off workers," Catholic priest Michael Mawelera said during Sunday mass at Good Shepherd Kabwata parish in the capital Lusaka.

"Prices of essential commodities have risen because of the depreciation of the kwacha. We need to seek God's hand," he said.

Zambia's economy is expected to grow by less than 5 percent this year, down from an earlier projection of around 6 percent, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda told Reuters last month.

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