UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma says it is pointless for President Edgar Lungu to be a champion of peace and unity in other countries while leaving Zambia divided.

Reacting to President Lungu’s recent visit to Mozambique where he witnessed the signing of a long-term peace pledge between the Mozambican government and the opposition Mozambican National Resistance, Kakoma said President Lungu, in his capacity as being Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, should show the same zeal he made in fostering peace in Mozambique by also having dialogue with opposition leaders in the country.

“The same efforts that he is putting in to have peace in other countries, such as Mozambique is the same efforts that we will expect the President Lungu to put in creating peace and harmony in Zambia. We expect him to unite the people of Zambia, but this unity can only come if we can conform to dialogue in Zambia. The fact that he is running away from dialogue means that it is going to be very difficult to foster unity in this country. If he comes to the negotiating table for dialogue, he should swallow his pride. That is the only way that we are going to have peaceful elections in 2021 and that is the only way we are going to unite this country. It is pointless for him to be a champion of peace and unity in other countries leaving his own country divided,” Kakoma said.

And Kakoma feared that the 2021 general election would exacerbate tension if the much-needed dialogue process was not facilitated.

“It is going to be very difficult presidential and general elections if we go to those elections without this dialogue being done. With this level, for example, political violence taking place during by-elections is going to multiply during general elections. And it is going to be very difficult to have free, fair and credible elections with political violence taking place all over. That is just one item in the dialogue process, the political violence; there are many others, including the electoral process; the way the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) is monitoring elections, including the police, and the application of the Public Order Act and so many of these things that needed to be resolved. If it’s just like that up to the next general elections, I can tell you what happened in 2016 is child’s play,” said Kakoma.

”We (UPND) are committed to dialogue, we are ready to dialogue. We needed a strong and neutral person to help in this dialogue process. And the neutral organization we found is the Church; that all of us should come under the Church-led dialogue process so that we negotiate, so that we dialogue to establish peace, reconciliation and unity in our country.”