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Our country stands at crossroads – Zitukule

ZITUKULE Consortium has called upon President Edgar Lungu to consider revisiting the idea of the church-led national dialogue among political players before the 2021 general elections or risk a full-blown disintegration in public and social order.

Executive director Nicholas Phiri also says politicians are deliberately making a ‘storm in a tea cup’ from the Monze situation, making the political situation more volatile and alarming ahead of the 2021 general elections.

Phiri said it was regrettable that as a country, Zambia missed a golden opportunity to hold a sincere and genuine national dialogue facilitated by the Church.

“We believe firmly that genuine dialogue would have created a firm foundation for an environment of tolerance and civility among political competitors especially as we head into 2021 general elections. As it is today, our country stands at crossroads; political intolerance, violence, break down in the rule law and politicisation of public institutions has become institutionalised,” he said in a statement. “In this regard we call upon President Lungu to consider revisiting the idea of the church led national dialogue among political players before the 2021 general elections or risk a full-blown disintegration in public and social order.”

Phiri said it was sad that the Head of State was reportedly “booed” in Monze, but wondered if that constitutes a crime punishable by infringing on the freedom of association and assembly.

“Is President Edgar Lungu the first politician in Zambia to have been booed by citizens? What is so demeaning for a public official including the President to be booed by the people from where he draws power to govern? Has our democracy disintegrated so low that any form of expression of discontent with the performance of public officials should be met with threats of violence and death?” he asked. “Does President Lungu agree with his party officials and supporters on the unlawful stance they have taken following the Monze incidence? It is our considered view that politicians are deliberately making a ‘storm in a tea cup’ from the Monze situation, making the political situation more volatile and alarming ahead of the 2021 general elections.”

Phiri called upon President Lungu to prevail over his party officials and supporters as a leader and provide leadership.

He said those who in 2016 stood in the way of genuine national dialogue were the same ones today who were fueling a volatile political environment ahead of the 2021 general elections.

Phiri further called upon the Head of State not to remain mute when civil servants were openly towing partisan lines as the case is with the Commissioner General of the Prisons and Correctional Services whose sentiments in Monze undermine the integrity of public institutions.

He said the integrity of public institutions is cardinal in creating a peaceful environment ahead of the 2021 polls.

Phiri said it was important for the Head of State to remember that a volatile Zambia would not be good for anyone including his supporters, his legacy and the nation at large.

He said Zambia was known for political tolerance, civility and maturity.

“We call on President Lungu to uphold this record and make it part of his legacy,” said Phiri.

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