THE Church has expressed shock and dismay at false reports that Acting President Guy Scott was blackmailed and threatened by the military to reconcile with Patriotic Front (PF) president Edgar Lungu.
The Church has described the reports as an attempt to fan chaos and anarchy in the country by a group of individuals bent at destroying the peace and stability the country has been enjoying.
Father Charles Chilinda, Saint Ignatius Catholic Church priest and the initiator of the reconciliation process between Dr Scott, Mr Lungu, Mr Sampa, Kabwata MP Given Lubinda and other senior PF members who had expressed the desire to succeed late President Michael Sata, said at no time were the military involved in the reconciliation discussions in the ruling party.
He said Northmead Assemblies of God Bishop Joshua Banda was equally actively involved in the efforts to bring the factions together culminating into the truce that saw Mr Lungu file his nomination as the candidate for the presidential election next month.
Fr Chilinda said efforts to reconcile the warring factions in the PF started on December 2, 2014 after it became clear that there were deep divisions in the ruling party as a result of the succession wrangles that erupted following the death of President Sata.
Fr Chilinda explained that in the initial stages of the reconciliation process, he had constituted a team of three personalities two of whom were parishioners while the third was from the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ).
“The efforts towards reconciling the PF started on December 2, 2014 and we met all the key people in the wrangles. We met Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, Emmaunel Chenda, Miles Sampa, Edgar Lungu and Dr Scott. In all our meetings, what was coming out clear was that these leaders wanted peace and unity in the party despite their differences. We had several meetings and discussions that culminated into the reconciliation that we witnessed on Saturday at Government House. At no time was the military involved in this process it is only those who would want to discredit the reconciliation and set PF leaders against each other who are peddling such lies,” Fr Chilinda said.
He disclosed that Dennis Wood and Edward Sefuke who are the Parishioners at St Ignatius and Isaac Ngoma from the Economics Association Zambia with himself initiated the reconciilation process in the PF because the wrangles were posed a risk to the peace and stability of the country.
Fr Chilinda said the PF was a governing party and that the differences were affecting the smooth governance of the country and it was the desire of the country to find a solution that was going to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table.
He said when he realized that there was a lot of tension and hatred in the ruling party, he was prompted to call for a ceasefire. Fr Chilinda said Dr Scott saw the need for reconciliation between Mr Sampa and Mr Lungu and was eagerly looking forward to presiding over the peace talks in the party.
He disclosed that he had to cut his retreat in Samfya because of the tension that was building up in the PF and the country as a result of the failure to reach consensus over who was going to succeed President Sata. Fr Chilinda said the wrangles had persisted because of lack of trust from both the warring parties but that he was happy that the leaders had finally resolved their differences and the PF was united again.
“Both Mr Sampa and Mr Lungu strongly believed they needed to get together but were polarized by their positions. But we asked them to think about what was best for the country and we offeredin as the platform the Church has. Both Mr Lungu and Mr Sampa are good people and mean well for the country and they agreed that the peace of the country was at stake and needed to reconcile. Dr Scott told me that he was ready to work with anyone who would be chosen by the people,” he said.
Fr Chilinda disclosed that Mr Lungu and Mr Sampa had even agreed to drop their court cases in one of the meetings and that it was therefore dangerous to involve the military in the differences that engulfed the PF.
He stated Mr Sampa in his reconciliation statement said he was ready to sacrifice because he was still young and still had a future in politics.