UPND shocks ZCID for rejecting Catholic’s gesture
IT IS shocking, regrettable, and unheard of for the UPND to use such unpalatable language towards St Ignatius parish priest Charles Chilinda for merely inviting President Edgar Lungu and its leader Hakainde Hichilema to a reconciliation table, the ZCID has said. ZCID spokesperson Jackson Silavwe said the centre was shocked to learn that the UPND had attacked Father Chilinda for merely trying to facilitate a truce between the two warring political parties. Mr. Silavwe said the centre expected the invitation would be easy picking for Mr. Hichilema since the UPND had consistently maintained that it would only engage in dialogue facilitated by the church. His refusal must be an eye-opener to the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB). He said the ZCID did not have any problem with Fr. Chilinda calling for a meeting for the two leaders because such an effort was still in line with the dialogue and reconciliation process, insisting that the ZCID did not have the monopoly of knowledge. “Fr. Chilinda made that call in the spirit of ensuring that we bring the differences in our country to acceptable levels. It is extremely regrettable and shocking that an opposition leader who wants to dialogue can deny that kind of request. As ZCID, we have always believed that if this dialogue is going to stand the test of time, we need to bring all stakeholders together. “We have said that we welcome anyone willing to contribute to this cause in any way because we know that we are not a monopoly of wisdom and we know that dialogue is about give and take and therefore to demean what Fr. Chilinda said is regrettable. I think Zambians are looking forward to national unity. It is an eye-opener to ZCCB,” Mr. Silavwe said. He said Zambians were tired of unnecessary political rhetoric and that those who genuinely believed in the dialogue and reconciliation process needed to be level-headed. “This attitude of always having your way is not going to take this country forward. Dialogue is paramount and we must do that in the spirit of give and take. UPND is out of line as far as the Fr. Chilinda’s call is concerned. Like we said, we want dialogue to be all-inclusive “We, as ZCID, have been branded as surrogates who just go for meetings to have tea but I think as political leaders, we must take the high road so that we normalise the situation that the country is facing,” he said. He said Fr. Chilinda meant well to bring the two leaders together and that the UPND’s response showed that the party was not willing to dialogue because Fr. Chilinda belonged to the ZCCB which was one of the three church mother bodies which the UPND wanted to lead the dialogue process. “We believe that the spirit with which the Father made that call is the same spirit for the majority of the Zambian people. It is the spirit that goes beyond partisanship. It is a spirit that goes beyond vested interests. UPND must also realise that the same Father belongs to ZCCB which is part of the three church mother bodies and so, it is something that we expected that they would embrace,” he said.