Launch of national dialogue: Stakeholders react
The drama surrounding the anticipated commencement of the national political dialogue continued to unfold on Friday as the three Church Mother Bodies (CMBs) leaders served Zambians the latest episode by launching the process without some key stakeholders that included the Republican President and ZCID members.
On Thursday ZCID Board Chairperson Nathan Mulonga told a media briefing that their members would not be party to any dialogue launch due to among other reasons the disregard that the CMB leaders had exhibited towards the ZCID.
But on Friday responding to a caller during a live phone in radio program on One Love radio, Father Chikoya who is the Secretary General of CCZ said the Church will not not beg for anyone in their quest to achieve dialogue. The host had asked whether President Lungu would be in attendance during the launch.
“There is a lot we can do as a church without necessarily kneeling before anyone or begging for anyone. We can do theological reflections, bible study and many others. We are looking for a conversion of hearts and that is our agenda,” said the Clergy.
While the launch of the dialogue was in full swing a senior PF Central Committee Member Stephen Kampyongo was on radio Phoenix responding to accusations that his President was running away from the dialogue in the name of attending to matters affecting the region.
Kampyongo who is the Home Affairs Minister said as people responsible for the movement of the Republican President they will not take him to meetings without a defined agenda and a formal invitation within established procedures.
He said the President’s calendar was a public calendar which the CMB leaders should know and realise that the Republican President was different from the opposition leaders who are available at any time and that CMB leaders should consult the Presidency for his availability before setting dates for meetings and not set dates then as an after thought invite the President.
He also added that an official invitation to the President should reach his handlers 48hrs before the meeting as opposed to getting invitations through the media.
Meanwhile some stakeholders have castigated the CMB leaders for portraying an attitude that is likely to collapse the dialogue process.
Commenting the matter in a whatsapp group for politicians and journalists, NDC Spokesperson Erick Chanda questioned why the CMB leaders wanted to take over the responsibilities of ZCID an institution he said was created to facilitate inter party dialogue.
“Let’s use the systems that we have developed for ourselves. If we feel we have wrong people running The systems, let’s not abandon the systems but change the administrators. If the Church wants a role to play in the dialogue process, it should go through ZCID which is a legal institution designed to handle dialogue.
“Therefore, the response by the Church Mother Bodies on the meeting requested by the ZCID lacked diplomacy and only showed that the Church Mother Bodies does not recognise ZCID as a principal institution in the dialogue process. I am highly responsible for my own reasoning and I have no apologies to make.”
He added “Let us utilise our designed systems and strengthen them. Yes, ZCID in its current form may not function to our expectations but we can make the ZCID effective than abandoning the legal institution that we designed for ourselves. As politicians, let us help the Church realise that it had taken a wrong path and it must go back to ZCID path. Give to Ceaser what belongs to Ceaser and to God what belongs to God. Jehovah God be with us all!”
And MMD National secretary Raphael Nakacinda bemoaned the attitude of the three CMB leaders to go ahead with the program without the presence and availability of government including President Lungu, a move he said may be interpreted as religious arrogance.
He noted that the credibility of the church sitting politicians down without a bias was fast diminishing adding that the attitude of the church should not be allowed to collapse an already agreed upon dialogue and reform process.
“The objective of this political dialogue is to achieve pragmatic solutions to law inadequacies. At a deeper level, the aim is to address conflict drivers and foster reconciliation, build a greater national consensus and social cohesion, and define a shared vision of the future.
“A neutral chair doesn’t get deeply involved to the extent of prescribing the outcomes. It is up to the broad based dialogue audience to determine what sort of outcomes and deliverables. The three Church leaders we invited to chair have eroded their own credibility by their conduct. Dialogue is a shared responsibility,” he said.
A poorly attended launch led the three Church mother bodies to hold an emergency meeting last night to find a way forward.