Professor Ibrahim Gambari has criss-crossed between Lusaka and Nigeria since August 2017 when UPND president Hakainde Hichilema was released from prison from a Commonwealth mediated release.
Gambari’s visit was on the back of Secretary General Patricia Scotland having brokered a deal to have the opposition leader be released after being charges with treason.
Since August 2017 Zambians have been fed on a diet of the supposedly imminent dialogue that borders on arm twisting President Edgar Lungu to the negotiation table with his adversary in chief in the aftermath of the August 2016 elections.
The grounds for the dialogue has been hinged on constitutional reforms, post-election disputes and the Public Order Act.
Nobody has any illusion that the proposed dialogue wants to resolve a matter that the courts of law could have easily dealt with.
However the question that begs an answer is did it have to really take the Commonwealth to bring President Lungu and Hichilema to a dialogue process? Did not the Kenyans show a few days ago that it was possible for sworn political enemies to meet without the instigation of foreign forces? Did anything good ever come out an externally negotiated truce between former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and late Morgan Tsvangirai?
Can’t President Lungu and Hichilema spare the Zambian public this drama by simply coming to the table? Do they need Professor Gambari to fly all the way from his home country to bring them to the table? The dialogue could be much more worthwhile if it was self-instigated or locally championed.
Has our society degenerated to such levels of political hopelessness that we need outsiders to make us talk to each other?
Our leaders need to re-think this path they seem so proudly entrenched in and just come to the table at their own volition. Otherwise we are pessimistic that anything good will come off this dialogue process.
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