(By Masuzyo Chakwe and Oliver Chisenga)
THE three Church mother bodies say President Edgar Lungu and UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema have expressed unconditional support for an inclusive and church-led national dialogue and reconciliation process. And the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue and the Church mother bodies have resolved to have the latter lead the dialogue process.
According to a statement by Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops president Bishop Lungu, Council of Churches in Zambia president Bishop Sydney Sichilima and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia chairperson Bishop Paul Mususu, the Church bodies in their continued effort to build consensus on the processes and issues that need to be taken into account in the national dialogue and reconciliation process, facilitated a meeting between President Lungu and Hichilema on Monday November 12.
They expressed their “profound appreciation and gratitude” that the two leaders were able to have the meeting facilitated by the Church without any preconditions.
“The landmark meeting was held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere. The Church is also delighted to note that they addressed each other as brothers with great respect for each other,” they stated. “The two leaders expressed unconditional support to an inclusive and church-led national dialogue and reconciliation process. They assured the church of their availability and commitment to future direct engagements.”
The church bodies assured the nation that they were full of hope for a quick and successful national dialogue process.
“We remain committed to carry out the mandate entrusted to us by the Zambian people and with the help of all well-meaning Zambians and the mighty hand of God, we will work towards realising the vision of the national dialogue namely the desire for a conversion of hearts and minds, leading to a united, reconciled and peaceful Zambia where all citizens freely participate in governance within a thriving social and economic environment,” stated the Church bodies.
And in a communiqué signed at Kapingila House in Lusaka on Monday, Bishop George Lungu echoed the need for a true and meaningful dialogue process centred on national integration. And after signing the communiqué, ZCID board chairperson Nathan Mulonga said the event marked the beginning of a long, fruitful journey for the nation. Meanwhile, the National Democratic Congress said the need for dialogue could not be overlooked. Party acting spokesperson Misheck Moyo commended the ZCID for agreeing to have the church lead the process.
“The National Democratic Congress will participate in the church driven dialogue process. The need for dialogue cannot be over looked. The NDC will actively participate in the process until a win-win situation is attained,” Moyo said.
He said Zambia was currently highly polarised and deeply divided on political lines. Moyo said NDC was confident that the church would assist opposition political parties, non-state actors, and the governing party to resolve the various contentious issues that have divided the country.
“It should be emphasised that the dialogue process is in the best interest of the country in general. We respect the role that the church has continued playing in conflict resolution and peace building,” said Moyo.
“We demand that all pending salient issues be amicably resolved before the 2021 general elections. As NDC, we have in mind, the selective application of the public order Act POA as one outstanding matter that should be resolved urgently. It is our firm belief that all political parties in this country will embrace dialogue. We, therefore, challenge all political players to openly and holistically look at all matters fermenting discontent and political anarchy in the country.”