National Restoration Party (NAREP) leader Elias Chipimo says the ruling Patriotic Front is only willing to open doors for dialogue with the opposition if the agenda is to sing praises for President Edgar Lungu.

Speaking when he featured on Muvi TV’s The Assignment programme on Sunday, Chipimo also said it was sad that President Edgar Lungu had persistently denied the opposition political party leaders an opportunity to meet him after countless efforts.

“State House is inaccessible and the president seems not to have time to want to listen to opposition parties like NAREP to share ideas about development that can lift Zambians out of poverty, hence the decision to write an open letter to him that we have shared with the public on our Twenty Percent Generation Plan (TPG),” Chipimo said.

“We do not believe that there is any real desire on the part of PF to engage with any Opposition that is not prepared to sing the praises of those in power. This is unfortunate, given the amount of suffering being experienced by the majority of Zambians.”

And Chipimo observed that the arrest of UPND Leader Hakainde Hichilema had been sparked by pride from both the ruling PF and the opposition UPND.

“Regarding HH, we have always said that this is an issue that has been sparked by a sense of pride on both sides – on the part of PF, there is a lack of willingness to engage with UPND unless there is recognition of the leadership and on the part of UPND there is an unwillingness to recognize the incumbent Republican President as duly elected. In order to have any progress, one side will have to exercise humility, but pride seems to be preventing this from happening. We believe that when such a standoff occurs, it is incumbent upon the one with the greater power to take the first step, just as God took the first step to be reconciled to sinful man by sending his son to die on the cross for our sins,” he said.

“We therefore believe that President Lungu should take the first step towards reconciliation and reach out to UPND, acknowledge their grievance and commit to dealing with HH as an equal with a legitimate complaint about the close presidential election result in order to find a way to ease the tensions that have plagued our politics.”

And Chipimo said the desire to hold on to power among politicians was breeding corruption.

“Part of the reason why we have so much corruption in Zambia and Africa as a whole is that the focus of politicians tends to be acquiring and holding on to power at any cost. Because of the very high levels of dependency, this is taken advantage of by the politicians who use their privileged positions to enrich themselves and use the money to feed the dependency of poverty in their people,” Chipimo said.

He added that he would not seek a second term once elected president of the country because that way would free him from the sycophants of doing the wrong things for the sake of holding onto power.

“I do not want to continue to perpetuate this approach and the only way I can seek to avoid this is to make the commitment to only serve one term. By doing so, I will be free to make the hard but right decisions that can bring real and meaningful change without fear that I will not be elected if the changes are not initially popular,” said Chipimo.

“Serving only one term will free me from the sycophants that will urge me to do the wrong things for the sake of holding on to power. It will also require me to work flat out to build a good succession plan. Succession seems to be a dirty word in Zambia but we need to always be thinking of working ourselves out of a job and building others up to take over from us.”