Don’t use impeachment to shun dialogue, Longwe tells State House

Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) chairperson Sera Longwe has advised State House not to use the impeachment motion against President Edgar Lungu as an excuse for dodging the scheduled dialogue talks.

And Longwe says Zambia will have itself to blame if efforts to secure a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) fails, because government borrowed recklessly and the country was servicing huge debts.

Speaking to News Diggers! in an interview, Longwe said it was unfortunate that State House had decided to reduce the Presidency to the level of shunning dialogue with other opposition parties on grounds that people could not sit down to dialogue with a President that they wanted to impeach.

Longwe said the dialogue talks and the impeachment motion were two different issues that needed to be treated separately, adding that there would be no meaningful development in Zambia if the country did not resolve its problems.

“I think its important to understand that the dialogue talks and the impeachment motion against President Edgar Lungu, are two different matters that need to be addressed separately. But if the President’s office is saying that they can’t dialogue now because the opposition are impeaching him, then that’s unfortunate. It’s better to put the two processes apart because they are different, and probably the impeachment was put forward because there has been this pronouncement from the Presidency that they are not interested in dialogue. So perhaps that could have given the opposition chance to say, since we can’t dialogue, therefore let’s deal with this issue in Parliament,” Longwe observed.

“But however, these two processes should be separate because the impeachment process takes its on path, and in between there is need to go to dialogue because there is more than just the Presidency at stake. It is unity and harmony and peace for the country which is at stake, so it’s important that these issues are dealt with at civil level while they are waiting for the legal process to take it’s route.”

She insisted that State House needed to show leadership by leading the opposition to the dialogue table.

“A President is responsible for all Zambians, he was voted for to attend to the needs of all Zambians. So it is important that the Presidency does not shy away from the dialogue because the dialogue is a much bigger stake which needs to be taken into account. It in the interest of the country and it’s the people’s wish that the dialogue talks proceed. So State House must not tell us that they can go to the dialogue with people who are impeaching the President, that’s not an excuse. Therefore, as a women’s movement in the country, we are interested in the dialogue because any solution that is lasting comes through dialogue, not through insulting and disrespecting each other, which is what is happening right now. Even development will not come to this country if the problems we have are not addressed.”

Meanwhile, Longwe said Zambia would have itself to blame if efforts to secure a bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) failed, saying government borrowed recklessly.

“The IMF have their own way of dealing with issues and they did put some conditions why they didn’t continue last time. So they still have to look at those aspects when they come. They will have to gauge if we have worked on some of the reasons why they couldn’t give us the the fund and one of them was that we have the highest threshold of international debt. So we must be able to prove that this debt, even if it may seem high, at least we have a strategy of repaying it which can mitigate against all those vices that the IMF is worried that if the country took on another debt might not be able to repay,” said Longwe.

“So I think I do agree with the minister that we are in trouble on the way we contracted these loans. We borrowed so much and so recklessly that if we don’t get the IMF package now, it’s ourselves to blame. But on the other hand, I think we don’t need the IMF loans. Because what that loan means is that they are going to suspend more deliveries to the people. Social deliveries are going to be curtailed and whenever they don’t provide sufficient social deliveries, it is the women who mop it up.”

         

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