The Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) has accused the three Church Mother Bodies of wanting to bulldoze the national dialogue process by proposing the inclusion of some insignificant church departments.

And ZCID has also accused the Church of dictating that the account for the dialogue process be domiciled at the Church secretariat, instead of opening an independent account.

Speaking when he featured on Millennium Radio’s The Interview programme, Wednesday, ZCID spokesperson Jackson Silavwe said the Church was running away from meeting his organisation to make headway ahead of next Friday’s national dialogue because it had made some demands, which could not be met.

“As Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue, we feel that the Church are bulldozing the dialogue process. Though they communicated to us via a WhatsApp text, we wrote to them officially, expressing the same sentiments that: ‘if you decide to go on with the meeting of 28th December…’ and that time they had not released their statement to say dialogue had been cancelled. But we are leaders with perception, and we had a feeling that this is where it was leading to. We wrote them a number of questions, which up to this day, they have never answered. We are not happy with what happened on the meeting of the 28th, and we were left with no option by the Church, hence our release of the statement. Regrettably, the Church also released their own an hour after our press statement, saying they would go ahead with the dialogue on 28th December, 2018. Now, we asked them: ‘if you go ahead with the meeting on the 28th, which agenda are you going to present because we haven’t finished the agenda?’ The agenda was supposed to be presented to the party presidents so that by the time we come to the launch, everyone is comfortable,” Silavwe lamented.

“My hope is that before the 18th of January, the Church and ZCID, we must come together and finalise this. As far as ZCID is concerned, we are still sitting on the negotiating table at Kapingila House where we have been meeting from at EFZ. We are still sitting there waiting for the Church to come back and say: ‘let us finalise the issues’ then we proceed. Our speculation is that perhaps on the things that we proposed, there are two to three items that we proposed to the Church. Maybe, they are the ones that the Church is afraid of and they have run away, and I am ready to share them with the Zambian people. When we started the dialogue process, ZCID released the five principles on which this dialogue process should be based and without those principles, this dialogue process is not going to go anywhere! One of the principles is transparency, and ZCID has been transparent in this process, we’ve got no hidden motives in as far as the dialogue process is concerned.”

Silawve charged that the Church was uncomfortable because ZCID did not allow it to bring its departments into the dialogue process.

“We were very emphatic that the MoU is between the three Church Mother Bodies and ZCID. There are other bodies in the Church and we recognised them, but the Church only told us that it’s only three, and being politicians, we told them that we don’t want to participate in the Church’s politics. So, this MoU is not CARITAS, but they brought the issues of CCMG. But we told them that those cannot be part of the MoU. They brought an issue of JCTR, but we told them, no! The secretariat is between ZCID and the Mother Bodies. If you feel you need to consult CARITAS, then you can do it internally without involving us. But when you come to the recognised secretariat, it should be the recognised officers that we know from the Church. So, we told them that CARITAS, CCMG and JCTR should not appear anywhere in the MoU. The other thing we told them that the account for the national dialogue should not be domiciled at Caritus, because that’s what they were saying. But we told them, no! We proposed to say; let us have an independent account because even when you want to open up a new enterprise with someone, you need to open a new account together. So, up to now, as politicians, we don’t understand why the Church is afraid for us to have an independent account,” Silavwe said.

He added that ZCID never intended to differ with the Church, but the institution was pushing ZCID into a corner.

“It has never been the intention of ZCID to differ with the Church. But we felt that the Church pushed ZCID board to the corner… are you aware that even the Chairperson of the entire national dialogue, Bishop George Lungu of Chipata, did not know about the cancellation of that meeting on 28th December? He was in transit coming to the same meeting where we are supposed to conclude on these issues. So, perhaps it is an indictment on the Church themselves and how they are communicating. The Chairperson of the entire national dialogue process did not know that the meeting had been cancelled up until when he reached Lusaka because the board Chairperson was in constant communication to say: ‘let us sort out these issues.’ Perhaps maybe it’s the comments that we made on the MoU that made the Church to take up that attitude, and I believe that we may be able to talk about those things that we made recommendations to the Church because for us, we are transparent,” said Silavwe.

But the church has refuted ZCID’s allegations, advising the body to humble itself instead of publicly showing its ignorance of the way the church operates.

Look out for an in-depth interview with the Church in Monday’s edition of Diggers.