The Churches of Zambia will lead the country’s “National Dialogue” after reaching an agreement with the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (NZID). The dialogue had been planned for a couple of years, but disputes between the parties and the withdrawal of support earlier this year by the Churches led to delays. The NZID was created to resolve disputes between political parties and to strengthen inter-party democracy in the country.
“We the leaders of the three Church Mother Bodies namely: the Council of Churches in Zambia, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue wish to inform the nation that we have agreed on how to proceed with the national dialogue process”, church leaders and NZID said in a joint statement.
The agreement is that that the three Church mother bodies will lead and chair the entire national dialogue process; and that there will be a joint secretariat comprising the three church mother bodies and ZCID.
“We hereby make an appeal to all stakeholders and Zambians to remain committed and support this process in its entirety”, they said. “Together we can set the nation on a new trajectory that will ensure that we truly live in peace, unity and harmony by promoting a culture of good governance, tolerance, civility, upholding the rule of law and safeguarding as well as respecting human rights.”
Zambia has a history of peaceful elections and transition of power; but recent elections have seen a rise in inter-party violence by some members of political cadres. In advance of the 2016 General Election, the leaders of the political parties – including President Edgar Lungu – attended an indaba session at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross, at which they agreed measures to calm tensions.