Chief Mnukwa of the Ngonis in Chipata says dialogue between the Patriotic Front and UPND will only be successful if the two parties agree to talk to each other without mediators.

In an interview with News Diggers, Chief Mnukwa said it does not matter who chairs the national political dialogue because the results would not change as long as those at the centre of the tension were not willing to listen to each other.

“Dialogue between parties is very important. We have a ruling party which is PF now, we have opposition parties that are part of what I would call the governance of Zambia. So if they came together to see certain things as common, it can only be done through dialogue, speaking to each other. I have just been hearing in the news that people are looking for mediators and what have you… but dialogue is dialogue, you have to speak to each other and I am sure in Zambia, there are a lot of systems on how people can talk to each other. So we shouldn’t be creating other avenues for dialogue when we can talk to each other directly. So I feel it is the leaders of these parties that should take the lead in trying to talk to each other first. So it’s important,” Chief Mnukwa said.

“It all depends on the people who are supposed to be put together to discuss or to dialogue. If we put a lot of importance on people who are going to chair, it’s not very important. What is important to me is the two sides, the UPND for example and the PF to come together. They know what they want to talk about. The issue now is, what is the problem? What is supposed to be discussed? That is the first question, and that means that there is a problem. PF knows what the problem is, what it is that they may want to speak to UPND about. Even UPND also know what the problem is, what it is that they want to talk to PF about. So the two, call them antagonists, are the ones who are supposed to talk to each other. These other things like who is supposed to chair and all those things, in my own view, my own opinion, are secondary.”

He advised the PF and UPND to reach out to one another and sort out their differences before having someone else to mediate.

“You must first agree that you are going to talk to each other, then you say ‘okay guys, we have agreed to talk to each other but who is going to chair the meeting’. Then you agree, the two parties should agree, it’s not anybody else imposing themselves on these dialogues. The two antagonists should decide who should chair the meeting. But other stakeholders…would want these parties to come together. That’s why there is this movement towards arranging people, even traditional leaders, to sit on certain boards so as to try and advise. So it’s stakeholders who are also interested in making sure that there is dialogue in this country,” said chief Mnukwa.