The international community has concluded that there is a prospect of serious trouble in 2021 if Zambia does not hold meaningful national dialogue before then, says British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet.

And High Commissioner Cochrane-Dyet says a strong signal will be sent to the international community if top ranking government officials accused of corruption are successfully prosecuted or fired.

Speaking to journalists on the side-lines of the News Diggers/OSISA-organised fact-checking training for 25 Journalists in Lusaka, Tuesday, High Commissioner Cochrane-Dyet said the violence witnessed in the Sesheke by-election was worrying.

“The international Community views the political violence that happened recently in Sesheke and previously in Chilanga with concern. Zambia should be proud of its peaceful history as a country in Africa, which stands firm when other countries are engulfed in turmoil; that’s not something that Zambians should take for granted; that’s not something any country should take for granted. And the conclusion that the international community is drawing from what happened in Sesheke is that there is need for a national dialogue; Zambia must have a meaningful national dialogue because if it doesn’t, then there is a prospect of serious trouble in 2021,” High Commissioner Cochrane-Dyet said.

“So, we need to see a fully consultative dialogue, which looks at different issues: the electoral reforms, Public Order Act and other issues.”

And High Commissioner Cochrane–Dyet said a strong signal would be sent to the international community if high-ranking government officials were to be successfully prosecuted for corruption or fired.

“There have been charges against high profile individuals and I think we can take that as evidence that the President’s words are being translated into that. There is no best way of showing commitment to fighting corruption than prosecuting high profile individuals, whether they are Ministers or high-ranking military officials. I, therefore, think that the events of last week were very significant. The action that has been taken by the Anti-Corruption Commission has sent a signal, which the international community is picking. There is no doubt that even a stronger signal will be sent if a Minister will be sacked; if a Minister will be successfully prosecuted, that would send the strongest possible signal. I think it would be wrong for me to comment on a specific case, but speaking generally, I think a very strong signal in the commitment to the fight against corruption,” said High Commissioner Cochrane-Dyet.