The Church not mandated to lead national dialogue – claims ZCID

By Staff Reporter

The church mother bodies have no mandate to drive the dialogue process, Zambia Centre for Inter Party Dialogue (ZCID) has claimed.

Speaking in an interview with NewsDayZambia.com on Tuesday, ZCID spokesperson Jackson Silavwe said the three church mother bodies should not be rigid but recognize that his organization was the only one mandated to drive the process.

“This time around we are looking at contentious issues in the constitution. So, I am afraid the same approach you used in 1991 (when the church led the dialogue process) may not work today because times have changed, people have evolved, and all these factors need to be put into consideration.  No wonder we have found ourselves in this kind of a position because perhaps we are trying to use methods that may not apply to the current dispensation,” he said, quoting former British Prime minister Winston Churchill by saying “those who can’t change their mind will never change anything”.

He claimed the conditions of 1991 were that the church merely facilitated a meeting between the ‘Movement’ (opposition) and the ruling party, saying there was no impasse and the government swung into action.

“There was no chairing of a committee to receive submissions because Dr Kaunda appointed the Chona commission that made recommendations that we return to multi-partism,” he said.

“Our position still remains the same. We have been meeting with the church. They know where we meet from and know how we convene the meetings. It is them that cancelled those meetings. Our position as ZCID is that we are still at the table. If nothing is harmonized then we won’t be part of the process,” he said.

Silavwe said the Church was welcome if it was willing to come back and complete the process, “we are open and still sitting on the negotiating table where they left us” stressing that if they were willing to move forward ZCID was ready to move with them as a single unit before the 18th of January 2019.

“There can be no meaningful dialogue without the engagement of ZCID. Then what will be there is a haphazard agenda aimed at achieving some sort of sinister position. If dialogue is going to be successful it must include all stakeholders who must be comfortable to participate in that dialogue process. So, yes it may continue but it won’t be national dialogue. It will be some form of dialogue but won’t be national in nature. They are agreeable themselves that’s why they are using the road map that we originated for them. They have recognized that ZCID is the convener of political parties and it is us who are going to facilitate all the four thematic areas that we have agreed upon,” he said.

Silavwe said the date of the December 28, 2018 meeting was initially set by both ZCID and the church mother bodies but agreed to iron out pending issues before then.

“We agreed that we were going to formalize the agenda and sign an MOU for the meeting. I must say that on the road map we had made a lot of head way or about 90% or above that, apart from one or two issues. When we saw that we had not exhausted the negations, we decided to postpone the meeting to finalise on those issues because we have reasons why we feel that those areas have to be agreed upon, but they refused, hence the impasse,” he said, adding, “if this is not done, we will go to the 18th without the participation of key stakeholders like ZCID and also political party presidents who are loyal to the institution”.

Meanwhile, ZNBC reports that president Edgar Lungu has said dialogue should not be a one-off event but a continuous process to exchange ideas between the various stakeholders

Speaking when he met the European leaders at State house on Tuesday morning, President Lungu assured the cooperating partners that he was committed to the process.

And Patriotic Front (PF) Roan member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili who is also National Democratic Congress consultant says there would be no national dialogue if he was blacked from the meeting scheduled for January 18.

Some PF senior members who include deputy Media Director Antonio Mwanza have warned Kambwili not to attend the dialogue process because it was not meant for consultants but party presidents and general secretaries.