’Political leaders who included President Edgar Lungu yesterday congregated at the Cathedral of the Holly Cross to discuss an end to political violence that has become the main feature in the country’s political scene.
The leaders of the opposition political parties included United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema, Nevers Mumba of the MMD, Edith Nawakwi of the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), and Dan Pule of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) among others
The Cathedral of the Holly Cross was last host to a political indaba about 26 years ago when Zambia was about to revert to multiparty party democracy under first republican president Kenneth Kaunda.
The spate of political violence in the recent past compelled President Lungu to call upon the Catholic Church to arrange an Indaba of all political leaders to meet and discuss how best the violence could be dealt with.
Mr Hichilema said he was optimistic that the leaders of the Church would help find a lasting solution to political violence stating that the vice had no space in a country that was the pioneer of democracy in the region.
Mr Hichilema said it had become imperative for the country to remain peaceful as the general elections were drawing near because political violence had the potential to make the electoral system less credible.
He said part of the violence was as a result of political leaders failing to dialogue on important national issues because the country’s politics were marred with name-calling, malice and acrimony.“We have not come here to drink tea but we are here for serious business that concerns the lives of Zambians. Violence has no place in a democratic country like Zambia and we must condemn it wherever it happens and whoever is involved.
MMD president Nevers Mumba said he had high expectations from the Indaba and called on the country’s political leaders to work towards re-creating the country’s politics that would be civil and devoid of violence, antagonism and acrimony.
“Instead of throwing stones and using machetes as a means of negotiating, we have an opportunity through the Indaba to lay a platform for civil and intelligent politics. We have the opportunity to recreate our politics in Zambia and it is our hope that our men of God will make us realise the folly of political violence,” Dr Mumba said.
Christian Democratic Party president Dan Pule said political leaders in the country must cultivate a culture of dialogue even in times of intense differences. Dr Pule said he was happy to be part of the Indaba and was hopeful that the general elections would be credible where the winner would be legitimate while those who were going to lose would be able to concede defeat with grace.
FDD president Edith Nawakwi took her usual stance of avoiding talking to journalists and was only asking them which media institution they were representing before telling them off that she had no comment to make on the event.
Other opposition leaders that attended included People’s Party’s Mike Mulongoti, Fred Mtesa of Zambia Direct Democracy and Ludwig Sondashi of the Forum for Democratic Alliance (FDA).
Conspicously missing were Rainbow Party leader Wynter Kabimba, Eric Chanda of the 4R, Miles Sampa