Green Party president Peter Sinkamba says the anticipated national dialogue failed because the Church involved the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) in the coordination process.

In an interview, Sinkamba, the Green Party president, said there was no way ZCID could be communicating to political party leaders via text messages.

“The ZCID is not an honest broker, and has not been an honest broker since inception in 2007, which was the year when the PF under the late Michael Sata pulled out of the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue kind of initiative. And we have made it very clear ourselves that, provided Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue is going to be involved in any inter-party dialogue issues, those talks will be a flop, and we have now been vindicated. Last week, we received an SMS from Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue for the meeting today (Friday) and that was extremely strange to us because talks of that kind of nature cannot be communicated to political parties by way of SMS. And in any case, even the agenda, which was appearing on the SMS, was so broad that no meaningful conversation can come out of talks at a level of presidents or a summit of presidents as it were,” Sinkamba said.

He explained that the current confusion surrounding the dialogue process is purely because of the involvement of ZCID.

“So, for us, the moment we received that SMS, we considered the whole issue as a non-starter, and we would not even have participated in the meeting even if it was held today (Friday). And we want to reiterate our point [that] if the Church wants to have the dialogue process, which will be respected by parties, if the Church wants the dialogue process, which is going to materialise at the end of the day, it is imperative that the Church keeps ZCID off their arrangements. This whole confusion is purely because of the involvement of the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue who, for some reasons, the Church delegated to coordinate the meeting. And it’s not surprising that President Edgar Lungu has indicated that they have not received a formal invitation from the Church, which is exactly our position. We have not received a formal invitation from the Church and, therefore, we would not have participated in this where communication is via SMS from ZCID. I think that is unacceptable anywhere in the world! We have participated in several official meetings,” he said.

And Sinkamba said even if political parties had participated in the postponed meeting, nothing tangible would have come out of it based on the ‘SMS-way’ of communicating with participating parties.

“Personally, I was the deputy secretary for the inter-party dialogue committee from 1992 to 1993 when the secretary to that committee was Brig General Miyanda then, who was minister to that portfolio under the Chiluba government, and who was also the secretary general of MMD. We never communicated to members of the committee by way of such petty arrangements. And the whole process of engagement was formal with documents for discussion sent to presidents in advance so that they are able to read through all those documents and also able to prepare adequately on points of contention in those documents, which would be tabled for the presidents’ meeting,” narrated Sinkamba.

“This whole thing, the way it has been structured would have been a failure even if we had attended that meeting, based on that SMS, nothing tangible would have come out of it. Otherwise, we are wasting time going round [in] circles and wasting resources at the same time. My position is that the meeting has failed because the Church has involved Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue to coordinate the meeting.”