Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary, Father Emmanuel Chikoya says the PF’s insistence on the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) to lead the national political dialogue is a condition in itself.

Commenting on President Edgar Lungu’s pronouncement that the ruling party was ready to dialogue with the opposition as long as it is led by ZCID, Fr Chikoya said the politicians needed allow the Church to lead the talks because it had a track record of resolving conflicts amicably, unlike ZCID which is funded by the State.

“Differences will always be there but it’s very possible this can be resolved amicably. Once the people get together, forget about their different positions and be able to agree then we can come up with a lasting solution. Genuine dialogue will always result into something that can benefit all participants. My understanding of having dialogue talks without conditions is that even the ZCID issue does not have to stand in the way. But if it’s standing in the way then there is still a condition from PF who are insisting that ZCID must lead the talks,” Fr Chikoya.

He saif politician would not lose anything by allowing the church to handle the dialogue.

“For us as the Church we always stand firm on the fact that we’ve always been in the better position to guide. And I think there is a track record and the reference in terms of what we have done in the past. The challenge with institutions that seem to be funded by government, their independence sometimes are not guaranteed. I think those are the genuine concerns that people have. Who funds the ZCID? You will be told it’s government but who is controlling government? So those are some of the concerns that the other party (UPND) has, which are genuine,” Fr Chikoya said.

“Sometimes there are very few people that are able to rise to the occasion and really do their job impartially. So that is a very genuine concern. What do people lose when the Church leads them and ZCID is involved? Nothing, so at the end of the day, I think that’s our impression (that the Church leads the talks). So we begun our own processes of trying to see to it that whatever is going to happen, we will still find our own platforms of ensuring that we participate effectively in the dialogue process. So something definitely will be done.”

Fr Chikoya urged all politicians to get to the dialogue table with no conditions.

“Genuine commitment to dialogue is always appreciated and must be commended. And any stakeholder in the dialogue process should be willing to discuss. Putting conditionalities before discussions is as good as refusing to dialogue. So the appeal to every stakeholder is to come to the dialogue table with no conditions. I think Zambia is bigger than any particular grouping of people, so let’s not just think about ourselves and what should have been or should not have been in our favour,” said Fr Chikoya.

“We need leaders that are transformational and not transactional leaders who are always looking for ‘what is in it for me? Or what are my benefit? ’ I think leadership and statesmanship demands that we sacrifice our selfish interest and then be able to get an outcome for the good of the people. We genuinely want peace, so our strong appeal is let every stakeholder play their part and come to the table and let’s flush it out, discuss and find the best way forward for our country.”