NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili says President Edgar Lungu has turned down the Commonwealth-led dialogue because he is scared to face the international community after all atrocities he has committed against Zambians.

And Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) leader Charles Milipi says President Lungu’s decision to change his position on the dialogue process shows a lack of integrity and sincerity.

Meanwhile, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says he is not surprised that President Lungu does not want the Commonwealth to facilitate the dialogue process because the PF has always been inconsistent.

Commenting on President Lungu’s suggestion that the dialogue process should be led by the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) instead of the Commonwealth as earlier agreed, Kambwili, who is also Roan PF member of parliament, said President Lungu is a crook who is only worried about his own pocket.

“This man is not consistent with what he does. You cannot trust Lungu, he is only scared now and he doesn’t want to face the international community because of the atrocities he’s committing against the people of Zambia and also because he is not a democrat, so he can’t face people who are democrats. Lungu claiming that he can shut out the dialogue process is an insult to the people of Zambia. This man is, like I have always said, he’s nothing but a crook who is only worried about his own pocket. But because most of his illegal activities have been exposed, he’s scared of meeting the international community,” Kambwili said.

He said ZCID was incapable of handling the dialogue process impartially because it was an extension of the Patriotic Front.

“That ZCID is an extension of the PF, all of the people who are at ZCID are compromised and they are pro Edgar because Edgar has stolen too much and he’s able to buy people. So when he’s able to buy people, you cannot trust the dialogue that can be initiated by people that are in his pockets. So it is very unfortunate and some of us can only apologise to the Commonwealth on behalf of the Zambian people that we have a President who is very unreasonable. A President who can pretend to be a Christian and yet he’s not, a President who can pretend to be a democrat and yet he’s not, a President who can pretend to be humble and yet he’s a thief. But there is no humbleness in theft! So is this a man you expect to respect the Commonwealth?” Kambwili asked.

He described President Lungu’s actions as a mockery to the Commonwealth and the entire international community.

“That was mockery, Lungu was mocking the Commonwealth. He was mocking the whole world that he can accept dialogue when in actual fact he’s not prepared to dialogue. Look at how they are treating the opposition, we can’t even be given police permits to hold meetings. I have been trying to hold meetings in my constituency and they refuse me but they go and give a permit to Steven Chungu who is Luanshya MP to hold a meeting in my constituency this Saturday. What nonsense! How can they allow Steve to hold a meeting in my constituency and deny me the owner? So tell them that as Steve holds his meeting, I will also be there at that meeting because I am the owner of the constituency,” said Kambwili.

And Milupi asked President Lungu to stop playing games with the dialogue process.

He observed that even President Lungu was aware that ZCID was incapable of handling the dialogue process.

“What we are looking for really is for the rule of law to return, freedom to attend and conduct meetings and we want a professional police state. Now, inspite of all these things that are going wrong, against all odds, On the 3rd of April last year, Mr Lungu arrested Hakainde Hichilema in the most brutal manner and charged him with treason. Some of us who sat in the court to witness what he was arrested for, realised how desperate our country had became. So when all these things were happening and we came in as opposition leaders to demand what was right and the Church came in, NGOs came in but can someone tell me where ZCID was? What did they say about Hichilema’s arrest? Did they come in and said that UPND is also a member of the ZCID? Did they ask Mr Lungu for dialogue? No! It had to take the Church and outsiders like General Obasanjo, it had to take the Commonwealth and Patricia Scotland to come in and demand Hakainde’s release,” said Milupi.

“We want to unite this country and Mr Lungu must stop playing games, so they must decide if they want to take part or not. But the advantage with the Commonwealth is that it’s an outside body, which is widely respected and it chose to handle the talks when ZCID was nowhere to be seen. So we want to come up with a solution that will give a new direction to this country. What Mr Lungu has done shows a lack of integrity and sincerity, because before Commonwealth got involved, Patricia Scotland had a meeting with Mr Lungu even before Hakainde released and he agreed that Commonwealth should table this dialogue and that’s why Professor Gambari got involved and created the timetable because he believed that both parties had agreed. Bu then when they are about to start now then Mr Lungu who is President says ‘no we don’t want you, we can do this by ourselves’. This shows lack of sicerity and lack of sincerity in a President is very worrying for a President and it shows that he has no direction.”

Meanwhile, Hichilema charged that President Lungu was not famous for “chipante-pante” way of doing things.

In a statement, Thursday, HH stated that it was preposterous for President Lungu to turn back on the Commonwealth barely a month after assured them of his commitment to the dialogue process.

“The statement by State House quoting Mr Edgar Lungu giving conditions for dialogue is very unfortunate to say the least. But for us who have known Mr Lungu and his PF leadership for changing positions on many issues, this does not surprise us. They have changed position on economic, social and political issues in their famous ‘chipante-pante’ fashion. These inconsistencies have led to the current social, economic and political challenges the country is facing. On the issue of dialogue, Edgar Lungu and his PF leadership have been quoted on several occasions saying there was no tension in the country and have never seen any need for dialogue with anybody,” Hichilema stated.

“In a few instances they indicated willingness for dialogue, it has been on condition that they can only sit with those who recognize their President as the republican President based on the disputed 2016 elections outcome. With impunity and in total disregard of the spirit of dialogue, which among other things demands consultations among parties, they have unilaterally gone ahead with the process of amending the constitution again. Yet this is the same document we had warned about in 2015, that it had several flaws. We have no doubt that the PF leadership under Edgar Lungu is happy on the same path with the continued political tension in the country. As UPND, we would like to reiterate that we are available for unconditional and genuine dialogue in the spirit of moving the country forward.”

He noted that dialogue was supposed to be unconditional.

“So far, a lot of preparatory and ground work has already been done to set the right environment for the dialogue. We find it preposterous that Edgar Lungu and PF can now turn back on the Commonwealth supported dialogue after assurance he gave them barely a month ago. Dialogue should be unconditional and we are surprised at the comments Edgar Lungu made while meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator. And since Edgar Lungu made the preconditions for dialogue while meeting the UN Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan, we challenge the UN and particularly UNDP and the Electoral Commission of Zambia to publicly release the November 2017 Conflict Structural Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) report for Zambia, which was Supported by the UNDP Support to Election Cycle Project in Zambia. We want the Zambian people to see this report together with the full recommendations made in there,” stated Hichilema.