UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema’s incarceration received international attention.
During his incarceration, he received dignitaries such as Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland.
During the respective visits by the trio, there was emphasis for dialogue between President Lungu and Mr Hichilema through the mediators.
Now that Mr Hichilema is out of prison, Zambians expect the UPND leader to stick to what was advised and agreed.
There is no need for the UPND leader to renege on his word because Zambians have to collectively find common ground on which to develop the country for the good of all.
His public statements should promote peace and unity so that his followers can follow suit.
What he says and does can either inflame hate speech or dampen it. Zambians are tired of the hate speech which preceded the 2015 and 2016 elections and after because it has potential to divide the country.
Zambia has been a unitary state for over five decades and the status quo should continue irrespective of the outcome of any election.
If anything, elections are supposed to unite the country because the outcome reflects the will of the majority.
Understandably, there are those that may not disagree with the outcome of the election contest and they do have the right to seek the adjudication of the courts of law.
It is only right, too, that when the Judiciary makes its ruling, as was the case through the Constitutional Court, the appellants should move on.
Moving on should ideally not take the form of legislators boycotting special Parliamentary sessions such as the President’s address, which sets the tone for development in all parts of the country, including regions that are opposition strongholds.
Moving on also does not mean attempting to defy security measures such as Presidential motorcades
The initiative for dialogue by Archbishop Mpundu, General Obasanjo and Ms Scotland must be embraced.
The nation is in need of healing from politics and Mr Hichilema, as the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, holds the key.
He must show commitment through the tone of his public pronouncements because the rank and file in his party are looking up to him for direction.
Mr Hichilema holds the road map for the harmony that this country is in serious need of.
While outsiders have played their role in initiating the process of political dialogue, Mr Hichilema’s sentiments and actions hold the key.
The anticipated dialogue, to be brokered by the Commonwealth and attended by the Church and civil society groups among others, should address threats to peace in Zambia.
As these efforts are being made, it should be noted that Government has continued to implement various development programmes. These will certainly continue and no attempts should be made to disrupt them.