Church mother bodies, ZCID differ over dialogue

While three Church insist consultative talks shall go ahead, ZCID says they have been postponed to allow for further consultations between the two parties

By Staff Reporter

 

The three church mother bodies have directed that the inter-party dialogue consultative meeting scheduled for this afternoon shall go ahead despite the other ‘convenor’, ZCID issuing a statement postponing it.

And the opposition Socialist Party presidential candidate for 2021 Dr Fred M’membe expressed skeptism about the outcome of the talks but believed that every genuine peace effort deserved support.

The two players, the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue on one side and the three church mother bodies namely, the Christian Council of Zambia (CCZ),the Evanfelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and Zambia Centre for Catholic Bishops on the other hand, have lately been ‘shadow boxing’ until this final collision.

In a statement released yesterday, the three  church mother bodies have vowed to go ahead with the planned meeting despite their partner organisation (ZCID) having earlier released a contradictory statement of postponement.

“We the three church mother bodies wish to inform the public that contrary to the statement released by the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) board,  the consultative meeting called for all presidents of Political parties will proceed as planned on Friday 28th December 2018 at Kapingila house in Kabulonga at 14:30hrs,” reads part of the statement.

The statement signed by CCZ president Bishop Sydney Sichilima, EFZ board chairman Bishop Paul Mususu and ZCCB president Bishop George Lungu further states that the purpose of the meeting, albeit being held in camera was to inform the political parties on the progress made on the National Dialougue and Reconciliation and the planned official launch.

However, earlier the ZCID spokesperson Jackson Silavwe said in a press statement that his organisation had postponed the meeting to a non definitive date because the two parties did not have a preparatory meeting to discuss their working Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the agenda for Friday’s (today’s) meeting.

“The decision to postpone the meeting is taken to allow time for the  Church mother bodies and the ZCID to generate a consensus agenda for the same meetings. It is imperative to have a known and concise agenda that has the confidence of all political stakeholders to eliminate any possibility of failure of this important national excersise,” the ZCID statement reads.

This development comes amid confirmation of participation and expression of political will from sections of the political fraternity who in some cases showed reluctance.

And Dr M’membe disclosed in a statement to The Mast that the Socialist Party politburo had resolved to attend today’s national dialogue and reconciliation meeting in Lusaka.

“The Politburo of the Socialist Party has decided that the party attends this meeting. But we don’t think peace can be brought to our homeland by some magic meeting chaired by some religious leaders, some superman or woman sitting at a Cathedral,” Dr M’membe stated.

He stated that no political gimmick or manipulation could bring peace to “our homeland.”

“Peace cannot be achieved by some one act; it is a process. Peace is said to be a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures,” Dr M’membe stated.
“Peace in our homeland cannot be ensured by brute force, by police brutality, ruthlessness and unbridled abuse of the criminal justice system to humiliate, intimidate and paralyse political opponents; it can only be achieved by continuous efforts of building understanding and tolerance.”
He expressed misgivings about the PF leadership’s readiness to forego or change its political methods which were anchored on “intolerance and violence, manipulation and abuse of the police, the courts and the electoral system to get the outcomes they want.”

“Intolerance cannot drive out intolerance; only tolerance can do that. Violence cannot drive out violence; only respect for the humanity and rights of others can do that. This is the spirit in which we have accepted to participate in this Friday’s talks,” Dr M’membe stated.
“Given the Patriotic Front’s deep-rooted ideology of political intolerance and violence, we are not expecting much from these talks. But we believe every genuine peace effort deserves the support of all.”

Dr M’membe added that for peace to return to Zambia, big changes ought to be made to the public order Act and its administration.

“Professionalism, objectivity, fairness and impartiality in law enforcement has to return to our law enforcement agencies. Changes need to be made to the electoral system to make it truly independent of the ruling party and the government departments under its direct control,” stated Dr M’membe.
“And on top of this, a truly independent judiciary is urgently needed. Our judiciary has lost public respect and trust and is incapable of resolving disputes that may threaten to tear our homeland to pieces. Big changes are needed to restore public confidence and trust in our judiciary.”