FIVE opposition political parties have praised Vice-President Inonge Wina’s call for dialogue among political players aimed at sharing ideas on how to address challenges that the country is facing.
Last week, Ms. Wina told Parliament that there was need for political parties to dialogue over incidences of violence that characterised by-elections in order to foster unity and development.
She said it was unfortunate that campaigns before the Mulobezi parliamentary by-election were marred by electoral violence.
When contacted for a comment, leaders from the United Party for National Development (UPND), Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), People’s Party (PP), Alliance for Development and Democracy (ADD), and Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) all indicated that they were itching to have a meeting so that they could help Government address some of the challenges the country was facing.
UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma told the Daily Nation that meetings aimed at discussing national affairs were paramount and that the opposition had always been available and ready to dialogue with Government.
Mr. Kakoma said it was important that government initiated such meetings in order to find long-lasting solutions to challenges that affected Zambians and that his party was waiting for Government’s invitation.
“We have always talked about the need to discuss these matters including the constitution-making process but it is Government which is failing to initiate these meetings. It is them who should call us. They are in the driving seat and we are waiting for them to tell us when we can discuss important national issues,” he said.
ADD president Charles Milupi said Ms. Wina’s call for dialogue was a wise one and that his party would not hesitate if invited to a round table.
Mr. Milupi said time to look at the opposition political parties as enemies was long gone and that there was need for unity of purpose among political players for the sake of Zambians.
“There are a lot of issues that we need to address in this country such as the crumbling national economy as evidenced by the free-falling Kwacha, the budget deficit, high borrowing, and high unemployment levels, which have led to poverty. The economy is deteriorating and there is need for us to come together in order to address these challenges,” Mr Milupi said.
FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza told the Daily Nation that his party was happy that what it had been soliciting for had been granted after a long time.
Mr. Mwanza said the call was a step in the right direction and observed that certain challenges would have been addressed if Government had been listening to the opposition.
“Any form of dialogue on national issues is welcome. We have a lot of problems which should be addressed and talking to each other at that high level must be a pre-requisite for any Government,” Mr. Mwanza said
He explained that political dialogue should not only be an academic exercise and challenged government to ensure that whatever would be resolved during the discussion should be implemented.
Meanwhile, PP president Mike Mulongoti welcomed the call for dialogue and urged Government to quickly convene a meeting where differences could be ironed out and solutions to challenges found.
Mr. Mulongoti said there was nothing wrong with opposition political parties engaging Government on national issues but urged Government not to delay in initiating dialogue because the country was at the cross-roads and in dire need of solutions.
And ZDDM vice-president Charles Kafumbo said sectoral and regional politics had no room in Zambia and that politicians who were in the habit of practising tribalism were a danger to the political landscape of the country.
Mr Kafumbo said that tribal politics were responsible for differences that had emerged in the Southern and Western provinces.