Human Rights Commission (HRC) Chairperson Mudford Mwandenga has commended President Edgar Lungu for expressing willingness to dialogue with Hakainde Hichilema.

In a statement today, Mwandenga said dialogue was the hallmark of good governance.

“The Human Rights Commission (HRC) wishes to commend President Edgar Lungu for demonstrating commitment to the spirit of dialogue as demonstrated by his gesture of meeting with the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops and expressing willingness to engage in dialogue with the United Party for National Development leader Mr Hakainde Hichilema. As the Human Rights Commission has stated before, dialogue in a multi-party democracy and plural society such as Zambia is a hallmark of good governance and must be always encouraged,” Mwandenga stated.

“It is therefore encouraging that President Lungu is willing to provide the required national leadership to facilitate political dialogue in order to bring to an end the continued hostile political environment. The Commission believes that such a landmark decision may result into a peaceful resolution of the current political conflicts and enable the country to focus its energy and resources on improving socio-economic rights of citizens.”

The Commission insisted that continued political hostility was endangering the maintenance of peace, law and order in Zambia.

“The Commission is looking forward to a spirit of give and take among the political leadership and engage in a candid but mutually respectful dialogue to achieve the desired go of promoting political harmony and securing the rights and freedoms of everyone. It must be appreciated that the continued political hostility is endangering the maintenance of peace, law and order as well as grossly undermining the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms,” Mwandenga stated.

“Zambia, like many other great nations, has in the past relied on political dialogue to avoid slumping into political instability. It is therefore encouraging that President Lungu has expressed commitment to keep Zambia’s long standing tradition of engaging in dialogue and recognising the befitting role of the church in brokering peace in this country. It is hoped that other stakeholders will positive respond to the Catholic Bishops’ call for dialogue. There is need to put aside sectorial interests for the greater good of Zambia.”

Mwandenga warned other stakeholders and the media to desist from making statements that could jeopardise the impending dialogue.

“The Commission wishes to call upon various stakeholders, including the media fraternity, to desist from making statements or publications that have the potential to jeopardise the impending dialogue. The Commission further wishes to take this opportunity to commend the church in Zambia for its continued role of uniting the country and promoting human rights through their social justice and selfless work,” stated Mwandenga.