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All stakeholders should take part in dialogue summit

YESTERDAY the national democracy stakeholders’ summit opened its doors to over 250 delegates who have been invited by the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) to make submissions on how best to handle the national political dialogue.Given how highly contentious the issue of dialogue has been, the summit is certainly an opportunity for all stakeholders to find common ground by addressing all contentious issues.
As rightly noted by ZCID chairperson Nathan Mulongo, the summit will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to deal with contentious issues such as the Public Order Act, police conduct and the electoral process, among others.
If approached with all sincerity and commitment by all stakeholders, this summit could turn out to be the solid foundation on which future dialogues could be anchored.
Actually, this is the mindset that all stakeholders should exhibit towards the summit.
The first step is for all stakeholders to honour the invitation and avail themselves for this important summit.
Stakeholders also need to respect and acknowledge the capacity of ZCID to handle the dialogue.
It is worrying that the major opposition political party, UPND, is questioning the capacity of ZCID despite having chaired the organisation for seven years.
UPND is insisting on the Church chairing the dialogue process.
UPND should know better than anybody else that this is not the first summit ZCID is holding on political dialogue. We had a similar one during Mwanawasa’s tenure which proved successful.
It is indisputable that ZCID has been very instrumental in brokering successful dialogue processes among political players in the past.
So, the issue of capacity does not arise.
The UPND’s demand for the church to lead the dialogue is also unjustifiable as it is already part of the process.
Before that, the opposition party wanted the Commonwealth to lead the process, which is not practical.
This is because we understand our challenges better and solutions lie within us.
The ongoing summit is an important agenda setting platform and we expect all stakeholders to come on board, especially the UPND.
The UPND, more than anybody else, is the most aggrieved. The summit therefore provides that opportunity for them to state their concerns and possibly find solutions.
As rightly stated by Mr Mulonga, staying away from the dialogue is not the best thing to do for the country.
UPND as a party that aspires to lead Zambians one day needs to show leadership and patriotism by putting national interest first.
Attending the ongoing summit is one way of doing so.
Should the UPND resolve not to attend the summit, they should not cry foul.
They will have no one but themselves to blame for any contentious issues that may be omitted during the summit due to their absence.
It is commendable that Government has agreed to dialogue without any attached conditions.
This is an indication of true leadership and selflessness given that Government is not the aggrieved party.
This is the commitment we expect from the opposition as well.
Dialogue is all about give and take.
Let all stakeholders get into the dialogue box without preconditions and allow the process to take its natural course.
This is the only way we will be assured of a win-win situation.
For the ongoing summit, we expect stakeholders to debate issues in the most civilised and objective way bearing in mind the masses they represent.