CARITAS Zambia executive director Eugene Kabilika says failure of the national dialogue process is the cause of the fast shrinking civic space in Zambia.
In an interview, Kabilika said the National Dialogue Forum was insignificant because it focused on constitutional reforms while overlooking glaring divisions going on in the country.
“We are having all these problems because of the failed dialogue process which was completely overlooked by key political players. Key political players in this case, I am talking about the government in power, they should not have brought the NDF, national dialogue forum to replace the national dialogue process because then the dimension changed, NDF only began to talk about constitutional reforms but it overlooked the glaring division that was happening in the country. And now the divisions are becoming wider and wider. It is either you are PF or you are opposition or you are what. Either you are this tribe or you are that tribe, you can’t go on like that in a country and the only person who can help us to come together are those who are given the instruments of power, they can mobilise people, they can make sure people come to the round table to discuss,” Kabilika said.
He said if nothing was done about the divisions in the country, it might breed chaos.
“So this way, we are literally sowing so much divisions in the country and we may reach a point where no one will be able to do anything about it, we will just be looking and that is very dangerous. So, international community, I am sure they are able to analyse what is happening in the country, they are able to do whatever they can to help us to try bring the nation together, to bring the country to order. Here are so many things which are happening which are actually indicating to the disorder that we may face,” he said.
And Kabilika called on the international community to help the country solve its debt problem.
“The international community must not look at Zambia as having capacity to be able to resolve all the problems that they are having. There is the issue of debt and there is the issue of liquidity in the economy. The debt is weighing heavily on the country. Zambia, having resources at its disposal to respond to the COVID-19 as well as to carry out very important activities such as holding an election which is a very big decision making point in the country. So they must try by all means to help either to encourage dialogue among the key political players or provide funds that are needed to make sure that processes such as the electoral process are done,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kabilika said the Electoral Commission of Zambia was not engaging in effective dialogue.
“And this idea of holding meetings and telling others is not helpful. I am now referring to the meeting that was held for presidents with the ECZ, holding a meeting and telling them that this is what we have done, so what do you want them to do? To say yes or to say no? That’s not dialogue, dialogue you table, what are the issues, you table them; there is registration of voters, that’s an issue, issuance of NRCs, that’s an issue. So how do we deal with these issues because they are being talked about? People were telling me when I went to the Southern Province recently that people who are issuing NRCs are literally running away from the community, one minute they are in this school, when the community go there, maybe they just do four, five people and then they disappear. So people have been literally hunting for them. You cannot run a country like that because if you want to give NRCs to people, be stationed there and let people get the NRCs because that helps the process,” said Kabilika.