Movement for Multiparty Democracy-MMD National Youth leader Geoffrey Mulenga has said that the Church can not be entrusted with the delicate process of superitending over the entire national dialogue because of their impartiality and existing differences among themselves.
And Mulenga says the two major stakeholders in the dialogue process should stop shifting goal posts in the interest of moving forward as time is not on their side.
Mulenga who is the National Youth Treasurer in the Youth wing of the former ruling party bemoaned the current crop of Church leaders whom he has accused of being partisan and lacking the calibre of their predecessors such as Telesphore Mpundu, Paul Duffy, Bishop Milingo, Father Miha and others who stood for the people.
He said the Church should not hijack the process but participate on the agenda which the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue has drawn so as to ensure that the country moves forward on the topic.
“The Church also looks to be divided, the Church can’t be trusted because they are divided and the era of Church leaders who had a people agenda is long gone. We had the likes of Japhet Njovu who was non partisan, the likes of Telesphore Mpundu, Paul Duffy, Bishop Milingo, Father Miha and others these had one thing in common, they wanted to see a united country but we have a new crop of these other church leaders who are partisan. Others sympathise with UPND, others sympathise with PF, how then are they going to reach a consensus and to what road map?
“I want to urge the church to be impartial in their participation in this dialogue process. They should take part in the dialogue but they should not hijack the process because they may just divide the country even further. They should allow ZCID to continue with its widely accepted road map which has been agreed upon by politicians themselves but play the chairing role which the politicians have requested the Church to play. The Church should work with ZCID because we don’t want a situation where the following day Charles Kakoma says we are not part of this dialogue,” he said.
Commenting on the recent statements from Republican President Edgar Lungu and his Justice Minister who have issued seemingly contradicting statements on the same issue. Mulenga said the country was losing precious time debating peripheral issues on a process which has already started.
He said political stakeholders have agreed on a road map to which everyone including the two major stakeholders participated hence the need for people to stick to what has been agreed on.
“The two major stakeholders in this dialogue process should stop changing goal posts. We know that the President who is in Eastern Province for a three day working visit issued a statement that the church must lead the process or be the secretariat but again we have a situation where his Justice Minister Given Lubinda who is in Ethiopia is saying this dialogue process must centre on constitutional reforms which has beeb agreed upon among other issues by all the political parties themselves. And its true we all agree as stakeholders after the Secretary General’s meeting in Siavonga District which was also attended by PF SG Davies Mwila and his Deputy Mumbi Phiri and the UPND counterparts, where we all agreed to involve the church to be part of the dialogue but not the Church to lead the process because politicians are suppose to lead this process because they represent the people political interests across the country.
“There is a number of peripheral issues which UPND and PF are raising and the UPND should realise time is ticking and there are a number of issues that need to be tackled in this dialogue process. Ofcourse, we are looking at laws like the Public Order Act, also the most important thing in a democracy is the independence of the electoral body and there are questions that need to be answered. Is the PF going to agree to the demands that the UPND and other political parties are going to bring foward to the same Church? Will the PF agree to have an independent electoral body and to scrap off the POA? All these questions, we may need to know if this process has to yield results,” he said.
He further told the UPND to sober up and stop being childish and petty because they are the most affected in the whole process.
“As for UPND they should stop being petty and childish in this whole process because they are the most affected political party in this whole process. These things must be tabled and tackled so that in the 2021 elections, maybe the loser may concede defeat once and for all to say I have lost elections which were held in a free and fair elections befitting a democracy.
“If the elections in 2021 have to be free and fair meeting the aspirations and standards of all participants without raising dust, we need to quickly dialogue. In the 2016 elections, we saw what happened, we have seen petitions in court which we may urge Hakainde Hichilema to withdraw all of them because they are irrelevant. The dialogue process can only meaningfully yield results if there aren’t any petitions in our courts of law. We say so because he has agreed that Edgar Lungu is his President so there is no need to continue with petitions,” he said.