LUNGU, HH TALKS

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IT is good that Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the president of the United Party for National Development (UPND) says he is ready to meet with President Edgar Lungu without any conditions.

Mr Hichilema, who heads one of the country’s largest opposition parties, however, says he prefers the talks to be chaired by the three church mother bodies.

He believes there would be genuine dialogue under the leadership of the Church mother bodies.

He also says he has been ready to meet with Mr Lungu unconditionally.

President Lungu on Sunday said he was prepared to meet with Mr Hichilema without any preconditions provided he was genuine.

It is true that the two political parties – the governing Patriotic Front and UPND – have been at daggers drawn since the acrimonious 2016 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government election.

The UPND claimed the elections were flawed and filed an election petition in the Constitutional Court.

The petition ended being thrown out by the ConCourt after the time frame in which it could have been heard elapsed.

Amidst the legal arguments, the UPND vowed it would not accept the result of the elections – presidential – because it was robbed of victory.

That stance was even taken to the National Assembly when all the UPND members of Parliament boycotted President Lungu’s inaugural address.  Yet this was after they had been sworn-in affirming to defend the constitution and allegiance to the President.

As of now, we do not know what the official position of the UPND is.  Has it accepted that Mr Lungu was duly elected as President of Zambia?

Mind you, one of the bottlenecks to having the two men meet was over the UPND refusing to accept the 2016 presidential result.

We believe that for the talks to succeed, the UPND, and Mr Hichilema in particular must accept that Mr Lungu is the de facto elected Head of State.

The proposed talks, if ever they are held, must not be about resolving the presidency.  They must be between a sitting president and the leader of a major political party trying to work out how their organisations should operate and ensure a win-win situation.

We know for a fact that one of the main reasons why dialogue failed in the first place was the failure by the UPND to accept Mr Lungu as Head of State.

And it is a fact that the party’s insistence on having the Church preside over the dialogue was to ensure that Mr Lungu did not get the respect due to his office.

Zambians and the world have not forgotten the famous handshake that caught the world unawares between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his political rival Raila Odinga after a fractious general election.

That reconciliation came about with an election petition pending and political groupings baying for blood.

It is what Zambians want to see replicated here.

True that there are ideological differences between the two men and the parties they head.  But these should not make it impossible for them to co-exist. 

What is wrong with having a one-on-one meeting away from the glare of cameras, may be with only their closest aides present?

That, for a start would be having a meeting without any conditions as to who should be the “moderator.”

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