The Patriotic Front says the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) should not issue threats on the resolutions of the National Dialogue Forum but must instead put their arguments forward for discussion.
On Monday, UNZALARU threatened to galvanize support against the government if it does not withdraw the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill.
However, PF media director Sunday Chanda said in an interview that UNZALARU must bear in mind that there is never going to be a Bill that will attain 100 per cent consensus.
“We do not operate in a space of threats and counter threats. We expect our colleagues who represent the intellectuals in this country to do better in engaging in substantive debates. The UNZALARU must bear in mind that from where they stand as intellectuals, they must agree that representatives of the people and representatives of different organizations and institutions formed what is called the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) and there was robust engagement on a number of issues. And that is not to say that there is ever going to be a Bill that will attain 100 per cent consensus. What is important is for people to say that ‘can we look at what can work and leave out what cannot work’ and that ‘how can we improve on the good whilst dealing with the negatives in this particular Bill?’ For us, that is the kind of debate we are ready to engage in as a political party,” Chanda said.
He said UNZALARU cannot dictate to all institutions and organizations that formed part of the NDF.
“We have for instance pronounced our party on a number of issues and taken a different position with those of the NDF resolutions because we believe in robust engagements as a very critical component of democracy. We must reach a point where we can engage in robust debates, agree to disagree [and] at the end of the day, let’s put the Bill into proper context. If UNZALARU has got strong positions and strong feelings, let them bring them out without saying ‘no you mustn’t do this or that.’ UNZALARU cannot dictate to all the institutions and organizations that formed part of the NDF,” Chanda said.
“What they can do is to bring about constructive proposals and alternatives to those particular salient features of the Bill which they believe as UNZALARU aren’t sitting well with where this country must go. It is again not true and not correct that everything about the Bill is wrong. It is not true that some of our colleagues arrogate to themselves as a source of all wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. So we are inviting them to the table to engage in a robust debate with other stakeholders.”
He said all stakeholders with views divergent from the resolutions of the NDF must avail them for discussion.
“There are those who don’t agree with the position that the Patriotic Front has taken and we respect them. There are those who don’t agree with the position that has been taken by the NDF by way of their resolutions and we respect them, but at the end of the day, let us all bring our divergent views together. So we are calling and appealing to the intellectuals to engage in robust debates and let’s sharpen our contradictions. Let’s agree to disagree,” said Chanda.