All it took was a handshake, and the two fierce political archrivals in Kenya buried their hatchets. Raila Odinga had never recognised the legitimacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election as Head of State. The opposition leader had a valid reason for resenting Kenyatta because even the Supreme Court of that country confirmed that the incumbent rigged the 2017 election.
Despite their bitter differences, when the two leaders realized that Kenya was bigger than them, they made a shocking public appearance, shook hands and the storm went dead.
This gesture did not only reconcile the two leaders; both Odinga and Kenyatta are leading alliances composed of almost 15 political parties collectively. This single golden handshake prevented the 2008 political crisis that led to the death of over 1,300 people.
This is what leaders who are interested in peace building do. First they identify the problem, then they take responsibility for the situation and finally they put aside their personal interests in order to unite the people they lead.
Here in Zambia, Mr Hakainde Hichilema and Mr Edgar Lungu have blamed everyone, apart from themselves, for their failure to unite the country. They have come up with so many silly excuses for avoiding the dialogue table, when in fact it is their hate for each other that is fueling the political tension.
We can tell that the local and international public is forcing these two leaders to do what they are personally not interested in doing. However, since that’s what everyone is eager to watch, they are pretentiously expressing interest in the dialogue, while forwarding numerous conditions to the peace deal.
Bwana HH and Bwana Lungu, stop fooling the people of Zambia into believing that you love this country more than you love yourselves. You don’t care about this dialogue because you are both too selfish to let go of personal ambitions and interests.
We have asked before, how can there be dialogue without a conversation? These two leaders don’t talk, they have never met for years, and even if they did, they would have nothing nice to say to each other. They think reconciling is a sign of weakness.
Given the lack of sincerity on this matter, we can assure the people of Zambia that this dialogue process, regardless of who leads it, will not achieve anything. It’s a political stunt meant to dupe the donor community and a few gullible citizens.
Forget the Commonwealth, forget the Zambia Center for Inter-Party Dialogue, forget the Church; a handshake in front of cameras between President Lungu and president Hichilema is what will lead to true reconciliation. It starts from there; when the PF and UPND followers see that the two leaders at the top are committed to ending the animosity, they will put down their pangas. Then the mediators can be appointed to take the reconciliation to the grassroots. That’s how Odinga and Kenyatta did it. We cannot continue listening to this boring dialogue song which none of the biggest political rivals is willing to dance to.
Here is a fact dear readers; it’s not about “who leads the dialogue?” it’s about “who must lead the country” that’s what our two leaders want from this so-called dialogue. So the PF and the UPND leaders will continue throwing useless demands at each other ahead of the dialogue, while hiding their true intentions.
On Tuesday, President Lungu announced that he was happy to let the Church take charge of the inter-party dialogue, as demanded by Mr Hichilema. But we know exactly what will follow next; the opposition UPND will demand for the exclusion of Church leaders like Rev Pukuta Mwanza or Bishop Joshua Banda on grounds that they are compromised. On the other hand, the PF will not want the likes of Fr Emmanuel Chikoya or Bishop John Mambo for the same reasons.
Meanwhile, Zambians are waiting to watch the love scene of this political thriller that continues to injure and kill citizens every time elections are called. For years and months, these two leaders have been calling on local and international organisations to prepare them a bed, but the reality is that they have no feelings for each other and they can’t agree on a single style of doing what they are promising.
This one says ‘the mattress is too hard for my comfort’, the other one says ‘the mattress is okay but we should do it from a secure room’. This one says ‘we should switch off the lights’, the other one says ‘I can’t trust you in the dark, let’s invite witnesses’. What the hell is going on? Who are they fooling?