Lusaka Lawyer Dickson Jere says the UPND should accept the fact that the rest of the country has moved on and the opposition party’s failure recognise a legally sworn-in Head of State is a sheer waste of time.
Commenting on UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s adamancy on moving away from the 2016 presidential election petition, Jere who is former State House press aide said it was pointless for the UPND to continue bickering over the past instead of focussing on 2021.
“The UPND are saying they won’t recognise the President but I think it’s a waste of time to even think about that because Zambia has a Head of State who is internationally recognised and the same UPND MPs are always going to Parliament which is being opened by the same President they don’t recognise. The President was elected alongside a Vice-President who is also leader of government business in Parliament and the UPND have been asking her questions in Parliament. So I think both the UPND and PF have got to compromise something in their approach to dialogue. UPND loses nothing by accepting the fact that there is a President here in Zambia who is internationally recognised and that for the sake of dialogue, they have to be forward looking,” Jere said.
Jere who is also Matero constituency parliamentary aspirant said the two parties should avoid making political statements that would jeopardise the dialogue process which was underway.
“The issue of recognition can not kill dialogue so both parties must exercise restrain and go to the negotiating table without preconceived conditions, and I think the opposition must be bold enough to say ‘yes, we may not have recognised these elections or we may not have accepted the results but as the situation stands now, there is a Head of State and he is a legally recognised Head of State’. So whether the UPND recognises him or not its neither here nor there because he is the President. What they should have done instead if they don’t recognise the President is to have refused to go and participate in Parliament because we all see the President going to parliament, I mean he is the one who promulgates the official opening of Parliament under his hand. So how can the same person they don’t recognise promulgate Parliament and they go to participate in the activities of Parliament which is officially opened by the same President they don’t recognise?” he wondered.
“The ruling party also has to sacrifice something but look, you can’t go to dialogue with me as President if you don’t even recognise me. So why are you talking to me if you don’t recognise me? Because the negotiations as I understand them have nothing to do with PF and UPND, it is UPND going to discuss with the Head of State so let them recognise him if they are going to deal with the Head of State. If they don’t recognise him then we are going to have a situation where while in the meeting they start refusing to call the President ‘your Excellency’ like we saw on President Lungu’s birthday the UPND president sent a message saying ‘happy birthday President of PF’ instead of just saying ‘the President of the Republic of Zambia’ because everyone knows that there is a President of Zambia who is internationally recognised,” Jere explained.
Meanwhile, Jere said the UPND should focus on 2021.
“I think the UPND will do well if they just accepted that fact. In fact News Diggers! did a very good opinion on this matter where they are saying that HH should move forward and look beyond 2021. You can’t keep on crying that there is no President when he is appointing judges everyday, he is swearing in ministers, he is swearing in ambassadors but you still want to insist that he is not a recognised President. I think we need to move ahead, yes that Constitutional court may not have heard the petition but the 14 days elapsed and a decision was made. That’s the difficult of the democracy we chose. And it is a shame that we have to wait for foreigners to come and help us dialogue. why should Commonwealth be coming here to come and force us to talk? But when there is a funeral we all go there and when there are weddings, we meet and talk because we are one people, we are all the same,” said Jere.