UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has said he is ready to meet President Edgar Lungu for a genuine dialogue without conditions attached.

President Lungu was Monday quoted as said he is ready to meet Hichilema unconditionally to resolve pressing matters facing the country.

“We have taken note of the remarks attributed to Mr. Edgar Lungu in today’s edition of the Daily Nation. Assuming he has been correctly quoted, our simple response is that we have been ready to meet Mr. Lungu without any conditions attached. We are very consistent and mean well when we say we need genuine dialogue under the leadership of the Church Mother Bodies and resolve a number of outstanding issues in the country,” Hichilema stated in a statement Monday.

He stated that genuine and open dialogue is what could solve the current political impasse.

“Our citizens are hurting and time is running out to resolve key issues in the governance of our country. The Church mother bodies have done it before with a proven record of success in resolving the impasse and we believe they can do it again. All it takes is genuineness and openness in discussions within the spirit of give and take and readiness to implement whatever is agreed upon. So, let’s get on with the business and start engaging with one another under the Church leadership,” Hichilema stated.

The last time President Lungu and Hichilema met was on November 12, 2018, where they held a secretive meeting facilitated by the three Church mother bodies, which was designed to build consensus on the stalled dialogue and reconciliation process.

Meanwhile, Hichilema has called for urgent measures to address the escalating prices of mealie meal, cooking oil and other essential commodities.

The average price of a 25 kilogramme bag of breakfast mealie meal in Lusaka is K125 while a five liter container of cooking is being sold around K130.

Prices of basic commodities are on an upward trend, with price hikes nearly every month as the kwacha faces pressure from foreign currencies.

“The current prices are way out of hand and completely unaffordable by the majority of our citizens, especially with the current high rate of unemployment in the country. Blaming adverse weather conditions is merely a convenient way of avoiding the problem. There are countries that are deserts, but their citizens are far much better in terms of living conditions because they rightly invested in correct projects. For example, we have been talking about creating more water harvesting mechanisms such as dams, canals, boreholes, etc to make farming an all year round activity, than waiting for rains,” stated Hichilema.

“Farming and related activities from crops to livestock can employ a lot of our citizens directly and indirectly through value addition industries, while ensuring there is available and affordable food in the country. These are the kind of investments we should promote as they touch a great majority of our people. Our target with our agriculture policies is to make sure a 25kg bag of mealie meal is kept at K50 or below. This is about survival of our people.”