Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga has warned that any further delay and procrastination in the national dialogue process is a danger to peace.

And Mwaanga says political leaders must be prepared to pay a very high price for peace, by putting aside their personal appetites for power with all the trappings which go with it.

In an interview, Mwaanga warned that any further delay in the national dialogue process was a danger to peace.

“It is responsibility of all of us to work for peace in our country and to help our political leaders talk to each other for the sake of peace in our country and stop waging war on peace, so that we can all live in peace with one another under the umbrella of ‘One Zambia, One Nation.’ This will guarantee peace for ourselves and more importantly, for generations yet unborn. Let the political dialogue begin now, under the umbrella of the church leaders, who no doubt understands what the issues are. Any further delay and procrastination are enemies of peace,” Mwaanga warned.

“My experience with peace talks; be it in Sudan, Seychelles, Angola, Mozambique, DRC, Somalia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, has shown that peace talks can be a uniquely important learning curve for individuals on both sides of the divide. In international relations, the issue of war and peace has always been a focal point. The international community fully recognised the supreme importance of the virtue of peace against the evil of peace only after having suffered from the destruction of two world wars. The United Nations was the product of this realisation and that is why in its charter, there is an affirmation that, ‘we the people of the United Nations determined to save successive generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to humankind’.”

He said it was disheartening to listen to political leaders and their “minions” use language which was pregnant with divisiveness and hatred when talking about their opponents.

“Zambia has enjoyed relative peace since gaining Independence in October, 1964, in contrast to some of the countries in the region and on the African continent. It is important to recognise that this peace has not come by accident. A firm foundation was laid by the founding fathers and some of leaders who ruled our country. It is, therefore, disheartening to listen to some of our political leaders and their minions talk carelessly about their opponents, using language, which is pregnant with divisiveness and hatred. History is abound with far too many fragile states, which cannot even guarantee basic necessities of life to their people, who end up voting with their feet to other countries and taking the dangerous journey to Europe in search of peace and better lives,” Mwaanga said.

“Countries which do not enjoy the absence of verbal or physical conflict deny themselves and their people of investment and tourist arrivals, who contribute in no small measure to job creation and economic growth generally. Citizens all over the world generally want to live, raise their children in conditions of peace and tranquillity. History has shown that leaders at whatever levels who invest in peace and work hard preserve it, are generally rewarded with a happy population and enhanced personal popularity. Some even receive important international awards for peace and good governance. Making peace in Zambia among and between ourselves must be the paramount occupation of all Zambians.”

And Mwaanga said political leaders must be prepared to pay a very high price for peace by putting aside their personal appetites for power with all the trappings which go with it.

“Yes, the political leaders are the most guilty, because of some of the irresponsible statements they make against each other in the quest for power and their inability to understand that politics is not war, but a mere contest for political power, which must be conducted within the boundaries of decency. Those in power conveniently forget that no condition is permanent, and those in power today, will be out of power tomorrow. This is why it is critical for politicians in power to develop a healthy relationship with those in the opposition and even open front door channels of communication. It is not a secret that election outcomes usually bring about tensions and even open hostilities. In countries where political leaders don’t even talk to each or rely on international or local bodies – particularly churches – to help them talk to each other, are prone to national tensions,” said Mwaanga.

“The need for peace talks to iron out differences becomes indispensable. These peace talks to address specific issues must start without any pre-conditions and any contentious issues, such as the Constitution of the country, electoral reforms, judicial independence, composition of the Constitutional Court, funding of political parties, recognition of the Head of State, hearing of the Presidential Petition, the rule of law, press freedom, corruption, development for all, among others, must be put on the table for discussion. This is how issues should be approached in countries like Zambia, whose democracy is still developing. Our leaders must be prepared to pay a very high price for peace, by putting aside their personal appetites for power, with all the trappings, which go with it.”