Dialogue should come after opposition party recognises Lungu
HONE SIAME, Lusaka
CHIEF government spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga says it is difficult for government to dialogue with United Party for
National Development (UPND) leaders because they have publicly refused to recognise President Lungu.
Ms Mulenga, who is Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, said, however, that Government is studying a statement by Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Telesphore Mpundu and will issue a comprehensive statement on the matter in due course.
In a statement yesterday, Archbishop Mpundu called for dialogue between the government and the UPND in view of what he termed political tension in the country.
But Ms Mulenga said in an interview yesterday that the Church has a role to play in counselling incarcerated UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema to respect the will of the people in last year’s August 11 general elections by according President Lungu the respect he deserves.
She said it is strange that Mr Hichilema is the only opposition leader who has refused to recognise the re-election of President Lungu who was voted for by more 50 percent of the voters.
Ms Mulenga said the ZCCB and other church mother bodies should tell Mr Hichilema to respect the will of Zambians and stop perpetrating anarchy in the country.
She said the Church should be instrumental in instilling a culture of patriotism, respect for rule of law and adherence to tenets of democracy by losing opposition politicians.
She said the recent incident in Mongu where the UPND leader’s convoy was involved in a drag race with the presidential motorcade should be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians.
“It is difficult to dialogue with someone who has publicly refused to recognise President Lungu as a legitimately-elected head of State. We have an open-door policy but our colleagues from the UPND have done a lot of wrongs,” she said.
Ms Mulenga said Government will not allow selfish political elements to put the country on fire and continue breaking the law with impunity after failing to come to terms with their electoral defeat.
She said President Lungu has been mandated by the Constitution to safeguard the lives of all Zambians regardless of their political affiliation.
Ms Mulenga said whatever the police did was done within the law and insinuations that the State is using the police to deal with political opponents are not true.
She also dispelled claims that Government wanted to dissolve the Law Association of Zambia as alleged by ZCCB.
Meanwhile, National Platform for Reconciliation president Cephas Liswaniso has said President Lungu deserves to be commended for going out of his way to accommodate the Church whenever they need his attention.
“President Lungu has attended peace talks whenever he is called upon, like the time before elections and many others before, including re-affirming Zambia as a Christian nation,” Mr Liswaniso said.
He said unlike President Lungu, Mr Hichilema could not even participate in national reconciliatory prayers but that all he did was pour scorn on the head of State for his open devotion to Christ.
Mr Liswaniso said it is politically immoral for Mr Hichilema and his supporters to publicly refuse to recognise a popularly-elected leader in President Lungu even after the Constitutional Court validated his electoral victory.
He said the Church should urge all citizens to respect authority and national leaders.
“It is times like these that we call upon the spirit of our late President Michael Sata who lost several elections but never got tired to call upon Zambians to lay down their arms and not torch the country. That is leadership,” Mr Liswaniso said.