The United Party for National Development (UPND) has said that the party has nothing to do with the national dialogue being spearheaded by the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue(ZCID).
Party Secretary General Stephen Katuka said that UPND is only committed to a genuine dialogue that is being facilitated by the three Church Mother Bodies.
“We wish to state that we have nothing to do with the national dialogue being spearheaded by the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue(ZCID),” Mr Katuka said.
Mr Katuka said that UPND has been very clear with its position that the ZCID has a conflict of interest and has no capacity to lead the process as they are assuming the role of a player and a referee at the same time.
In addition, Mr Katuka said that the ZCID was sponsored by the PF Government, and UPND being a member of the ZCID, cannot allow the continued peddling of clear and calculated clandestine positions to sway members of UPND on national dialogue.
Mr Katuka indicated that the nation may recall that it was President Edgar Lungu who organized the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland to visit president Hakainde Hichilema during his incarceration at Mukobeko Maximum prison in Kabwe, but later the same Mr Lungu turned round and said the Commonwealth was a foreign entity which cannot lead the national dialogue.
“It is shameful how Lungu can be using the ZCID to push for their agenda. We all know that ZCID is being manipulated by the Patriotic Front (PF)”, he has said.
Mr Katuka added that Stakeholders agreed in Siavonga that the church should facilitate the dialogue but wonders why the PF objected to the three Church Mother Bodies to lead the dialogue.
“We must reiterate that the UPND shall never be available for the national dialogue without the three Church Mother Bodies. Zambians should now see the PF hypocrisy with their so-called National Day of Prayer, which they have continued to advance after rejecting the church. Let Lungu and his PF have respect for the church”, said Mr Katuka.
When contacted for comment on allegations that UPND has said it was not consulted on the appointment of a committee of eminent persons to chair the national political dialogue process, ZCID accused the opposition UPND of not telling the truth on the appointment of a committee to spearhead the national political dialogue process.
ZCID Spokesperson Jackson Silavwe said that apart from the UPND representatives on the ZCID board being part of the board meetings on 16th and 21st August 2018 where a resolution was made to have local eminent persons chair the national dialogue process, the ZCID wrote to the party on 21st August 2018 and that the letter was delivered on 22nd August 2018 and stamped received.
Mr Silavwe said that the letter clearly requested the UPND to second names of eminent persons of their choice to chair the national dialogue in view of the stalled discussions with the leaders of the three church mother bodies namely EFZ, CCZ and ZCCB.
Mr Silavwe said that the ZCID through the Executive Director’s office received two letters dated 24th August 2018 from the UPND Secretary General’s Office and the Party President’s office reemphasizing their position to have the process led by the three church mother bodies.
Mr Silavwe stated that to assert that the UPND was not consulted is simply not stating the truth and that it is bent on advancing a negative perception against ZCID.
The ZCID has appointed a four-member committee comprising of Chief Ngabwe, Senior Chief Madzimawe, Former Second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Chifumu Banda and Veteran Politician Dr Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika to spearhead the National Political dialogue process.
Meanwhile, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has also said that it will not participate in the dialogue process being spearheaded by the Zambia Center for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID).
NDC Spokesperson Misheck Moyo said that the party will only participate in the talks if the church is allowed to lead the process. Mr. Moyo says the NDC is not comfortable that ZCID has appointed Dr Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika to chair the talks.
He has demanded that ZCID should clarify on how it settled on Dr. Lewanika to chair the dialogue process, adding that the party does not trust the ZCID and that it believes the organization is a surrogate of the ruling Patriotic Front Party (PF).
The ZCID board on October 23 constituted a committee of four local eminent persons to chair the proposed national dialogue between political parties.
The board’s Spokesperson Jackson Silavwe named the eminent persons as Chief Ngabwe of Central Province ,Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni Speaking people of Eastern Province, MMD founder member Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika and Lusaka lawyer Chimfumu Banda