RAINBOW Party general secretary Wynter Kabimba says he does not share the fears that national dialogue, through the National Dialogue Forum, may be hijacked by the PF government. And Kabimba has described the attack on Democratic Party (DP) president Harry Kalaba in Kasempa on Friday as sad and has appealed to the PF leadership to stop practising “primitive politics.”
Government, through justice minister Given Lubinda, intends to present a national dialogue bill to Parliament that would result in the formation of a bloated National Dialogue Forum (NDF).
The NDF’s objective, among other things, would be to provide for a national dialogue process to facilitate the Constitution refinement process, regulation of political parties, public order and electoral process reforms.
The NDF would be headed by a chairperson appointed by the Republican President.
The three Church-mother bodies, the opposition alliance, 10 civil society organisations and two individuals and other independent voices have since rejected the national dialogue bill that would lead to the formation of the NDF.
But Kabimba, a former justice minister in Michael Sata’s government, explained that he did not want to speculate that President Edgar Lungu and his government had sinister intentions on national dialogue, through the NDF.
“No! I want to make my case. I can tell you that if I reach the end of this process and I discover some duplicity, some cheating on behalf of government, you will see me take a different stance altogether,” Kabimba said when he featured on ZNBC TV’s Sunday Interview programme.
Told by interviewer Grevazio Zulu that the battle for a good Constitution would have been lost by the time he would be taking a different stance on the constitution-making process, Kabimba said “it will just be a temporary loss.”
“But the Zambian people will know that we are dealing with a government of men and women that are dishonest and that have no integrity. I can’t make that case now; I will be speculating,” he said.
Kabimba indicated that those that wanted to argue against the national dialogue bill were reading it halfway.
He said national dialogue, under the NDF, would be credible and that people had the right to withdraw from participating in the process.
“People have a right to withdraw but we want to practise politics of engagement, not politics of withdrawal. I’m going for this process voluntarily; my position is that I would like to go and sit in the same room as President Edgar Lungu and his members and other stakeholders and argue on how we are going to refine our political process. I don’t want to speculate,” Kabimba emphasised.
“We need to move forward; you can’t, on one hand, claim that there is tension in the country, claim that your rights are being abrogated when you want to mobilise your political party and on the other hand claim that I can’t go and face those that I’m complaining against. That is what I call politics of withdrawal [but] we want to practise politics of engagement.”
Kabimba pointed out that he did not want to hypothesise on the outcome of the NDF-supervised national dialogue.
“I don’t want to speculate what Edgar Lungu is going to say. I want to go all the way so that when the process is over, I’m intelligent enough to make up my mind that Edgar Lungu doesn’t mean well. Then I can go to the Zambian people and tell them ‘I have now proven that the man doesn’t mean well with his government,’” Kabimba explained.
“[But] I can’t do that now [because] I will be speculating and that is what everybody is doing. My view is that I would rather attend the Forum so that I can make my case to the Zambian people whether or not the government is doing this in good faith or in bad faith. I can’t answer that question now.”
He said he would be misleading Zambians now if he concluded that President Lungu and the PF do not mean well on the constitution-making process, through the NDF.
“But at that time when the process is concluded, I will be strong enough to stand on an anthill and say here is a government that does not mean well, here is a President who doesn’t mean well and he undermined this process,” he said.
And Kabimba said the Rainbow Party wanted to see a better Constitution than “what we have now.”
“We hope to see a public order Act that responds to my guaranteed right to express myself and assemble, unlike what is happening now. We hope to see political parties that are regulated in a manner that promotes democracy,” Kabimba said.
“We hope to see an electoral system which does not give rise to contentious matters after election, like we have seen in the last years. In other words, we hope to see a better democratic environment than the one we are operating under today.”
Meanwhile, on Kalaba’s attack by PF cadres in Kasempa, Kabimba said: “What I read today in one of the tabloids that one of the political leaders who was mobilising a political party in North-Western Province was attacked, if that article is true, that is very sad.”
“I want to appeal to the PF leadership to stop this primitive politics. Hence why national dialogue is important because we all have to agree as political players and other stakeholders how we are going to practise our politics without fear or favour,” said Kabimba.