Political Analyst Dr Alex Ng’oma says the polarization and threats of violence that the country has been experiencing will not end if the national political dialogue is not held.
Dr Ng’oma, however, has insisted that the church should lead the dialogue process because it’s the only credible institution with capacity to bring various parties together.
But Mwembeshi independent member of parliament Majila Jamba says the dialogue process should just be forgotten since non of the participating parties is willing to compromise on their conditions.
Commenting on Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube’s submission that the dialogue process must be shelved because it was just a waste of time, Dr Ng’oma said the challenges that the country had been facing would only be resolved if the dialogue was held.
“I am surprised that honourable Tutwa Ngulube is saying that holding the talks is a waste of time. As a lawyer, I actually expect him to know better than anyone else that people resolve their differences through talking, through coming to a negotiating table. So the dialogue process must not be looked at as a waste of time. Then I think the issue of conditions seems to have been settled because President Edgar Lungu has [already] come out in the open and he has said he is willing to come to the negotiations without conditions, that’s what he has said. So the nation has to understand that the issue of conditions appears to have been set aside. Now it’s just a question of accepting that position,” Dr Ng’oma said.
And Dr Ng’oma said stakeholders should allow the Church to lead the talks because it had a track record of amicably resolving conflicts.
“I would like to tell the nation that whenever there is a conflict, it’s important to make sure that the person or institution mediating the conflict is acceptable to both parties and I am very sure that both the UPND and PF will not object to the Church chairing the discussions. The UPND wanted the Commonwealth but the PF rejected the Commonwealth and the UPND also rejected ZCID. So ZCID has moved to the background and it’s important for the nation to understand that the ZCID will not chair the proceedings. So the only voice of reason in Zambia has always been and still is, the Church. The Church has always risen to the challenge. Therefore, I strongly support and I lobby and I plead with everyone to really give the Church a chance,” he said.
“Yes it is completely true that there are some members of the Clergy who are actually very partisan, but those are not the ones we are talking about and we know them. So please tell Mr Tutwa Ngulube, tell the board chair at ZCID that we know the pastors and the priests and all those who are compromised but those are not the ones we are talking about. There are level-headed men and women of integrity in the collar who can actually lead and those are the ones we want to bring the parties together. The Church cannot be doubted because it is the voice of reason. I think UPND was thinking that ZCID would chair but chairing and facilitating are two different things. Facilitating simply means, making the facilitation possible. But the chair will have to be agreed upon by the parties themselves. But like I said, I am campaigning for the Church is the voice of reason. The Church should be given a chance, minus the Church, there is no one else left by the way. The Church is the only option we have because without it, there is no one else left to chair.”
Dr Ng’oma called on all parties taking part in the dialogue process to fully commit and put the county’s interests first.
“It is important that all the stakeholders commit to this process because if we don’t then the polarization that has been in Zambia will continue and no body wants it to continue. We have been facing very serious threats of violence, therefore it is important that we have this dialogue. So those that are going to this dialogue should put in mother Zambia first and not their party positions first or their personal interests,” said Dr Ng’oma.
Meanwhile, the Mwembeshi member of parliament, Majila Jamba backed Ngulube’s remarks, saying holding talks when some political parties did not want to compromise their positions was a waste of time and resources.
“People have been talking about the dialogue process [for some time], debating on who should facilitate is not a big issue but if some people who are supposed to participate do not trust you then why should you force yourself to be a facilitator? UPND is a member of the ZCID, so if they are part of that institution and they are saying they don’t trust their own institution so then why go ahead with it? So yes, that dialogue process is a waste time. That’s tax payers money and they are wasting time. What we are simply saying is that if they are not agreeing then leave them. We shall continue as a country. If people are not interested in dialogue then forget about it instead of wasting people’s money,” said Jamba.
“Let’s strengthen the institutions which are supposed to be strengthened. We want parliament to be strong, we want the judiciary to be strong, we want the constitution to be strong. Because when the constitution is strong and people follow it, trust is earned. So those who think they can champion this and then the others are furious that they don’t recognise us….let’s just forget it. Then the other issue is who really started this dialogue, is it ZCID or it was someone else? It was the Church, so let those who started it finish it because they know better what was agreed. Why should others want to come and champion it? If no one is willing to compromise then let’s forget it. Look, it’s not about sitting down that you can end violence, we need to strengthen the institutions of the country. Institutions like the police, if someone has done wrong let them be apprehended and then the judiciary should expedite that this person has done wrong. So for me, I think no matter how much people are going to talk about dialogue, if the institutions are not string then there is nothing we are going to change.”