The much anticipated Political Parties’ Secretary Generals’ meeting has officially opened in Siavonga with all invited critical political parties, including the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), attending.
The two-day meeting is expected to deliberate on the submissions from the National Democracy Stakeholders Summit (NDSS) organised by the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) following consultations with former Republican Presidents, political party Presidents as well as eminent persons.
Further ZCID engaged stakeholders from different sectors of society at the NDSS before holding a one day meeting with political parties outside parliament. ZCID also engaged the Church Mother Bodies on the dialogue process.
The Secretary Generals’ meeting started with an assurance from the UPND representatives that they carry the full mandate of the party after participants raised an issue with the opposition party sending of proxies to the meeting without a clear explanation from the party.
The UPND have sent their Head of Policy and Research Dr. Choolwe Beyani, National Trustee Collins Maoma and their Legal Counsel Mukambo Haimbe instead of their party Secretary general Stephen Katuka, his Deputy Patrick Mucheleka and Garry Nkombo who had earlier confirmed their participation.
The move to send proxies by the UPND to the secretary general meeting infuriated participants from other political parties.
First Chairperson for the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue ZCID Dr Katele Kalumba said it was important for all participants to accommodate one another and that it was important for those representing their parties to ensure that the adequate mandate to “whip” their Presidents on issues relating to national dialogue.
Dr Kaluma noted that when the level was not adequate it would be difficult for the representatives impress on their presidents on what would be agreed during the meetings.
And PF Secretary General Davis Mwila expressed concern that the move to send proxies to the meeting would set a bad precedence for the forthcoming Presidents’ summit where others would want to send representatives.