Editor's Comment

Solutions lie within


THAT the Commonwealth has agreed to Zambia’s proposed home-grown dialogue process is not only commendable but a reflection of the confidence the organisation has in the nation’s capabilities to find solutions to its problems.
During a bilateral meeting held with Vice-President Inonge Wina in London recently, Commonwealth secretary general Patricia Scotland agreed to Zambia’s position that the proposed national dialogue involving various political stakeholders be driven by Zambians.
After being briefed by the Vice-President on the latest developments of the impending dialogue process, Ms Scotland could obviously not find any justifiable reason to object to the proposal of a Zambian-owned process.
Similarly, we do not see any justifiable reason to let international institutions drive the process on our behalf.
Five decades after independence, Zambia can no longer be considered as a baby incapable of handling her affairs.
Moreover, in her 54-year journey, Zambia has managed to earn accolades as a beacon of peace on the continent because of the manner the country has handled election transitions that are potential sparks of chaos.
The country has overcome much delicate situations in the past without the help of international bodies.
The attainment of independence from colonial rule in 1964 is one example where Zambians overcame potential conflicts when the freedom fighters of United National Independence Party (UNIP) and African National Congress (ANC) pulled in the same direction.
During the transition from one-party state to multipartism in 1991, Zambians again proved to the world that they were more than able to handle their own challenges.
The Church and other stakeholders facilitated dialogue between then President Kenneth Kaunda and other political stakeholders. This is what gave way to the change of constitution to allow for multipartism.
The Church also played a reconciliatory role in the governing Patriotic Front (PF) party after the death of President Michael Sata.
The PF, which risked losing the 2015 presidential elections due to infighting and divisions, rose above board as opposing factions reconciled. This was done without the help of international allies but under the leadership of the Church.
At the height of political violence prior to the 2016 elections, we saw Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue bring different political stakeholders together for dialogue and reconciliation.
At regional level, Zambia’s record in promoting peace remains unmatched.
Apart from her liberation efforts in the region, Zambia has brokered delicate dialogue processes.
In May 1995, under the stewardship of the then President, Frederick Chiluba, Zambia hosted the signing of the Angolan Protocol, which saw President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos and UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi meet and hug each other at Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
In July 1999, the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement was signed towards the cessation of the second Congo war.
Given such a track record, it can only be a sign of inferiority complex or lack of patriotism for us as a country to insist on Western-led or indeed another external-led dialogue.
A home-grown dialogue process is certainly the way to go if we are to ensure ownership, inclusiveness and subsequently acceptance of outcomes.
Zambians themselves understand better their challenges and are therefore better placed to propose relevant and practical solutions.
International organisations like Commonwealth are better placed as observers just to provide checks and balances to the process.
Ultimately, it is up to all political stakeholders involved to ensure that the dialogue process succeeds.
Stakeholders should be sincere and selfless by approaching this important process with a positive attitude of give and take.

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