Three Church mother bodies, the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) successfully brought together 18 political party leaders to dialogue over the escalating political violence ahead of the August 11, 2016 elections.
The church convened the historic event at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Lusaka following increased political intolerance resulting into violence, a situation that has characterized the current political scene. Ahead of the meeting, the church agreed that the anxiety and fear that has grip the nation because of the political violence could only be addressed by the political party leaders who are key stakeholders, through a facilitated dialogue such as this.
On 29th March,2016 through a communique released after the meeting and read out by the Chairman Archbishop Telepshore Mpundu, the parties pledged to address political violence using existing party structures by encouraging party members to desist from acts of violence, thus strengthening a culture of dialogue and tolerance.
The political party leaders also agreed to stop the use of perceived military regalia along side machetes and pangas which have played a role in fanning violence. They also agreed to end hate speech against each other and come up with interactive platforms to meet as leaders to establish health relationships.
At the end of the 8 hour meeting attended by the Republican President who is also the president of the ruling Patriotic front (PF) Edgar Lungu, the political parties commended the church for taking a step in bringing together all political parties to discuss ways of addressing political violence ahead of elections adding that a similar meeting be held as a way of keeping the momentum created by the church in addressing political violence.
Among other political party leaders present were Edith Nawakwi of FDD, Nevers Mumba of MMD, Dr Danny Pule representing the CDP, Hakainde Hichilema of UPND, Tilyenji Kaunda of UNIP, Edwin Sakala leader of Zambia Direct Democracy Movement, Edith Nawakwi of Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) , Cosmo Mumba, NRP, Peter Chanda of NCP, Dr Ludwig Sondashi of FDA, Charles Maboshe of NAREP, Fredrick Mutesa representing ZED, Gerry Sikazwe of PRP, James Musendeka of RPP, Frazier Malama of NFZ, James Mbewe of APC, Epyrious Mulenga of Heritage Party and Mike Mulongoti president of the People’s Party.
Senior clergy at the meeting included CCZ president Dr Rev Alfred Kalembo, EFZ president Bishop Joe Imakando, Bishop Joshua Banda, Dr Rev Edwin Zulu who took turns to assist with facilitation. Other clergy present were CCZ General Secretary Rev Suzanne Matale, EFZ Executive Director Rev Pukuta Mwanza and ZEC General Secretary Fr Cleophas Lungu.
Earlier, the political party leaders were ushered outside the church for a group photo.