WE have talked about talks for long enough; now is the time for the dialogue to start, says Commonwealth special envoy to the Republic of Zambia Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
Prof Gambari yesterday said formation of a steering committee comprised of eminent and respected Zambians which will lead and direct the dialogue process would be the first thing to do.
“As I depart, I can safely say that Zambians have committed themselves to a national political dialogue including the following: peace, respect for the separation of powers between the three branches of government, an independent electoral process, end to political violence, the right to freedom of expression, an end to tribalism, regionalism, and all forms of discrimination, good governance,” Prof Gambari said during a press briefing at Hotel Intercontinental.
“Above all, there is a shared commitment to open-minded, to act with good faith and to ensure that the process is truly Zambian led and owned. We have talked about talks for long enough. Now is the time for dialogue to start. The foundations of the dialogue process are a shared respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and respect for one another.”
Prof Gambari said the main objectives of the dialogue process were to promote peace, national cohesion and political tolerance and reconciliation in Zambia.
He said the process was aimed at contributing to reform and to supporting the strengthening of institutions in order to promote good governance and peace.
“The steering committee will be formally launched on March 26, 2018 in Lusaka. All the stakeholders and international community representatives will be invited to witness the event. Furthermore, the process will include the establishment of a working group, including three sub-groups which will examine the issues of Constitutional and institutional reforms, electoral reforms and tolerance and civility in public life. I want to look forward to a national political dialogue which is both inclusive and swift,” Prof Gambari said.
“Between September 2017 and March 2918, I have paid four visits to this country. During my visits, I have discussed a strategy for a national political dialogue with the Republican President, the president for the UPND, leaders of other political parties, the house of chiefs, church leaders, Law Association of Zambia, ZCID as well as civil society organizations.”
In August 2017, the Commonwealth secretary general Patricia Scotland appointed Prof Gambari as her special envoy to facilitate a national political dialogue to address national challenges and to enable the Republic of Zambia and its people to uphold its reputation for democracy, the rule of law and peace.