Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) general secretary Fr Emanuel Chikoya has called on political leaders to swallow their pride and get back to the dialogue table because the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) was a monologue.

Fr Chikoya also reiterated the Church’s commitment to ensuring that national reconciliation and peace is achieved.

On Tuesday, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema called on the PF to immediately withdraw the Constitution Amendment Bill from Parliament and return to a progressive national dialogue process that was consensus-based, inclusive and transparent.

He also called for reverting to a church-led dialogue.

Echoing remarks from Hichilema in an interview with News Diggers! Fr Chikoya noted that true dialogue could only happen when people spoke heart-to-heart, adding that a church-led dialogue had to be done.

“They must swallow their pride and just get to the table because that NDF, there was no dialogue there; it was a monologue. Because if you are going to talk about how to live in a jungle, for example, how predators and the prey will stay together and majority of the people present are predators, then there is no dialogue (laughs). So, what happened there is a process of trying to refine the Constitution and you cannot attain the process of converted hearts, changed attitudes, changed mindsets…that only happens when people speak heart-to-heart, when people bring out their issues with all the passion they have and, of course, guided and encouraged by the leadership of the Church and so that has to be done, that has to take place,” Fr Chikoya said.

“You know, our leaders must always remember that God has positioned them strategically, not just for themselves, but for the good of this country. So they need to be able to think beyond themselves, beyond their political party and see the overall picture of a united, prosperous Zambia that is thriving. Where everybody, without any bias, will be able to participate in the whole realm of things, economically, politically, and all those areas. So, that dream, that agenda is still there, it is doable. And you know, it will just take that decisive decision, that address to the nation and then the pace will be set and every cadre, every person that promotes violence is arrested and properly caged so that there is a deterrent. But if people do things and they are patted on the back in secret, you will continue to see what we are seeing. And now, it’s getting closer or too close, leaders are being beaten and that is a signal that things are not okay, it’s a wake-up call!”

He noted that building national reconciliation was a long-term venture.

“As a Christian, we are a people of hope that all things are possible, and I think as a church, we have come to realise that dialogue is not a project that is time-bound. Building national reconciliation and peace is going to be a long-term venture. So as the church we have not gone to slumber, we are still working out issues, modalities to ensure that people at the lowest levels do get into a process of talking about their challenges. How they are part of the problem and how they can be part of the solution. So, that agenda, that dream is still very much part and parcel of the three church mother bodies,” he explained.

“These things are doable, and as people attend church services, let them not just go there to make appearances. Let them expose their hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and as Ezekiel says: ‘God is able to turn the heart of stone into flesh’.”

He further called for a transition to “transformational leadership” from “transactional leadership”

“You know, everything rises or falls depending on leadership, so those that have the privilege of being put in positions of power have that unique chance and opportunity to do what is needed. I have said it before, what we need are not transactional leaders those that will say ‘how much will I gain and how much will I lose’. We need those who will say ‘how much has Zambia gained, how much shall that common person, poor person out there gain out of my decision’. This is possible and it doesn’t even cost money, it’s just a matter of waking up one day and just saying ‘okay, there are these ugly things happening in our country, the violence and all these other things, but as for me and my political party, we are putting an end to it’,” said Fr Chikoya.