LUSAKA. – Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) have agreed to a process of dialogue, which will lead to a creation of a road map of reforms ahead of the 2021 general elections, Commonwealth secretary general Patricia Scotland has said.
Scotland said the agreement is not in any way aimed at influencing the outcome of the matter in which Hichilema is charged with treason.
Scotland said the process of dialogue, which will be facilitated by her office, will lead to the creation of a road map of reforms pursuant to the Commonwealth principles of good practice, governance, and the rule of law.
She said this on Wednesday, during a press briefing following her three-day tour of duty in Zambia during which she held separate meetings with Mr Lungu, Mr Hichilema, and other stakeholders.
“His Excellency President Lungu and the honourable leader of the main opposition UPND Mr Hakainde Hichilema both being committed to the values and aspirations set out in the Commonwealth Charter, peace and harmony, particularly in this peace-building year of the Commonwealth, have agreed to a process of dialogue.
“This road map will be created through an inclusive, consultative process which will involve other political parties, civil society, church leaders, and other stakeholders,” Ms Scotland said.
She said President Lungu and Hichilema agreed that the process of the implementation of the said reforms be reviewed at the end of 2019 to ensure the preparation of the implementation of any such agreed reforms are completed expeditiously for the benefit of the 2021 and future elections.
She said the two leaders agreed not to look backward but to look forward to the next election to promote peace and stability. Scotland said she will appoint an envoy to facilitate the talks.
She said she is impressed that both leaders are committed to promote peace and stability in Zambia, which is a beacon of peace. Responding to a question from journalists who wanted to know whether the agreement was aimed at ensuring Hichilema is released: “This (agreement and proposed road map) is not in any way pre-determining what the Director of Public Prosecutions will decide, if we do so, it would be grossly improper,” Scotland, a former deputy Attorney General said.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Inonge Wina reportedly requested the Commonwealth to help Zambia with youth and women skills development for job and wealth creation through entrepreneurship.
VP Wina said this at her office when Scotland paid a courtesy call on her. “The promotion of women in politics is also critical to leverage equality in governance and political participation,” VP Wina said.
VP Wina said women empowerment is also an important aspect in fighting gender-based violence and enhancing gender equality. She said Zambia has made a lot of progress in rights and empowerment of women and youth, including elimination of child, early and forced marriages.
She emphasised the need to accelerate response to climate change which has been a challenge for most member-states, by empowering women and girls. – Zambia Daily Mail.