The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) has commended News Diggers and its partners for fostering dialogue, saying such is healthy for any democracy.
And SACCORD has observed that as is with the case with the Constitution Amendment Bill No.10 of 2019, it is impossible for citizens to agree on everything right away.
In a statement, Tuesday, SACCORD executive director Boniface Cheembe emphasized the need for tolerance of divergent views.
“The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) would like to welcome and commend the News Diggers and partners for promoting platforms that foster dialogue on important national matters such as the Constitution Amendment Bill No.10 of 2019. There is no doubt that the coming into being of Constitution Amendment Bill No.10 has generated different views and opinions from Zambians on the content of the Bill and this has demanded for a healthy dialogue and debate so that consensus can be reached. The debate that has arisen on account of Bill No.10 is normal and healthy as in a democracy it is not always possible for everyone to agree immediately. In addition, on matters such as the Constitution it is sometimes practically impossible to convince everyone to agree on everything. This characteristic of democracy means that dialogue becomes imperative as the exchange of ideas which must be done respectfully and peacefully helps bring about progress,” Cheembe stated.
“Progress where national dialogue is concerned requires that tolerance to divergent views must be accepted and that everyone must be allowed to express themselves in a respectful manner that requires to be respected by all involved in the dialogue. When disrespect and lack of tolerance to divergent views is allowed to prevail, it becomes a source of conflict in that those who feel that they have not been allowed to express themselves may be inclined to get their way in any manner including violence. In other words, disrespect and intolerance to divergent views, among other factors, has been a contributing factor to political violence in our country.”
He asked stakeholders to heed to News Diggers, Chapter One Foundation, Eden University, OSISA and Prime TV’s appeal for respect of divergent views as well as a call to not wear party regalia at such forums.
“There is therefore need for us to foster respect and tolerance as much as possible over dialogue in national matters as this is a basis for conflict prevention and the building of greater peace in our country. SACCORD therefore regrets the fracas and lack of acceptance to divergent views that was exhibited on Friday 17th January, 2020 during the organized public forum by News Diggers, Prime TV, Joy FM, Chapter One Foundation, Eden University and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) by some members of the audience. We welcome and commend the commitment and appeal by the organizers that going forward participants whether politically inclined or not must “…desist from exhibiting disruptive conduct, brandishing political party regalia and oppressing participants who hold divergent views.” This is the spirit that all political and democratic stakeholders must embrace as we continue to encourage all stakeholders interested to provide the necessary peaceful platforms for dialogue so as to contribute to citizen participation in the democratic and governance process of the country,” stated Cheembe.