By STEVEN ZANDE –
FORUM for Democracy and Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi has requested President Edgar Lungu consider convening a private meeting with United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema before next month’s all-parties dialogue process.
Ms Nawakwi said a private meeting, preferably under auspices of the Church, would build trust and rapport between Mr Lungu and Mr Hichilema and help facilitate an effective national dialogue process.
She said this at the FDD secretariat on Thursday when National Guidance and Religious Affairs Minister Godfridah Sumaili paid her a courtesy call to discuss values and principles related to political parties and leadership in the country.
“This tension should be broken by senior officials before national dialogue starts. We feel that Government is in a better position to bring an end to the fighting among parties,” Ms Nawakwi said.
She said a pre-dialogue meeting would ensure that leaders spoke with one language during the national dialogue process so that Zambia could address the largely electoral law related issues that caused disputes after recent elections.
Ms Nawakwi said time was ripe for politicians to start holding social meetings with a view to discussing pertinent national issues, saying the trend of speaking through the media was not helping in building the nation.
She stressed that the Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID) in its present form had capacity to chair a successful dialogue process but this required commitment from major political party leaders.
Rev Sumaili said Zambia’s progress and development hinged on citizens’ readiness to embrace values like patriotism, ethics, human dignity and honestly which Zambians had agreed to enshrine in the Constitution.
She said there was need for people to embrace Christian values, emphasising that this was crucial to sustaining the peace being enjoyed in the country.
Rev Sumaili said Government was engaging political parties over values to help promote decent politics which were anchored on respect and unity of purpose.
She said opposition parties were important to fostering unity in the nation and the dialogue process would succeed if everyone agreed and worked together.
Rev Sumaili said unity was not cheap because it required sacrifice and tolerance on the part of political and religious stakeholders and the general citizenry.
Parties should promote co-existence and unity in their structures so that Zambia could remain stable.