Veteran politician Vernon Johnson Mwaanga says President Edgar Lungu and his rival Hakainde Hichilema should tame irresponsible elements and hotheads in their parties because they have the potential to derail or undermine the dialogue process.

In an interview, Tuesday, Mwaanga noted that the two parties had persons and elements who should be disciplined to in order to successfully conduct the national dialogue process.

“I have had an opportunity to welcome the meeting which took place on 12th November 2018, between President Edgar Lungu and Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the President of the United Party for National Development (UPND). I also paid tribute to the three church mother bodies for arranging and husbanding the meeting. Our two leaders who met and addressed each other as brothers, agreed among others, that there should be an inclusive national political dialogue, without any pre-conditions, to address many troubling issues facing our country and work towards achieving national reconciliation, which is so vital to our country and its people. There are bound to be doubting Thomases both from PF, UPND, other opposition parties, some civil society organisations and some of our citizens. This should be expected, because of where we have come from as country. Confidence building will be required in this process of inclusive national dialogue. For starters, our two leaders should not deviate from what they agreed and must continuously reaffirm what they agreed to take our country forward in peace and harmony,” Mwaanga said.

“Secondly, they should ensure that irresponsible elements and hotheads in their political parties do not derail or undermine the dialogue process. Thirdly, the media must also play it’s part by supporting the dialogue process wholeheartedly and desist from demeaning and undermining the dialogue process through irresponsible reporting and unconstructive reporting, which we see and hear from time to time. All of us have an important duty to discipline our tongues and pens, so that we can all contribute to the success of the inclusive national dialogue. Dialogue should be an inclusive process which should entail not just talking, but also learning from each other. Unlike other types of communication, people involved must be willing to address the root causes of the problems before them and not just the symptoms.”

He stressed the importance of dialogue.

“Dialogue must bring together a diverse set of voices which with a view to creating a microcosm for the larger society. My hope is that at the end of this dialogue, the participants will develop a sense of joint owners of the agreed decisions and become joint stakeholders in addressing whatever common challenges may arise in future. Dialogue is not and should not be a one size fits all process. The participants must recognise each others humanity, show empathy towards one another, recognise that there are bound to be differences, as well as areas of commonalities and agreement. All those involved must have excess luggage of patience. I am convinced with seriousness, commitment and goodwill by all those directly and indirectly involved, progress is possible. The benefits of dialogue do not need a thesis in order to be articulated. As Martin Luther King so aptly stated: ‘We either live together as brothers and sisters, or perish together as fools’,” said Mwaanga.