PF Deputy Media Director and former opposition FDD senior official Antonio Mwanza has thrown ice at the Church led dialogue between President Edgar Lungu and the UPND President Hakainde Hichilema.
In the the Party’s first official reaction to the process, the PF attack dog has spelt out a thinly veiled dismissal of the talks describing them as nothing extraordinary while suggesting that the PF expects and wishes the relationship between the two leaders not to yield anything worthwhile.
Both Mr Hichilema and State House have since confirmed that the talks were fruitful, brotherly, cordial, polite and frank.
Political observers and commentators suggest the talks are being viewed negatively by PF hawks and hardliners who accuse President Lungu of giving in by agreeing to take part in the long awaited reconciliation process. They fear the dialogue may weaken their hold on power and may usher in Hichilema in State House in 2021.
Lungu’s speech in Northern Province over the weekend where he hit hard on Hichilema is being viewed as an attempt to appease and reassure the hardliners that he will not let go easily. The anti Hichilema speech was however roundly condemned by ordinary Zambians on social media who complained of being fatigued by political tension and lack of progress on the talks.
Antonio Mwanza’s bizzare statement is further evidence of a silent fight between the state and the party over the dialogue process.
Here is the full statement:
THERE IS NO BROMANCE BETWEEN ECL AND HH, DON’T GET IT TWISTED, IT’S NOT A LOVE AFFAIR
From the time that His Excellency President Edgar Lungu met with Mr Hakainde Hichilema, there has been talk in some quarters who have taken issue with some of the utterances that have been coming from the leaders from both sides; some have complained that it is against the spirit of dialogue and reconciliation for the two camps to be criticising each other at a time when the nation is so expectant of a ceasefire, harmony and tranquillity between the two rivals.
As a rider, i wish to make known to the public that on the 3rd of August, 2018, the Secretary General of UPND, Hon Stephen Katuka formally lodged a very forceful complaint in a letter to the PF Secretary General, Hon. Davies Mwila complaining against myself and comrade Sunday Chanda. He accused us of jeopardizing the much talked national dialogue and reconciliation through our daily media statements and media appearances.
It is extremely important for all of us to be very clear on this issue of the meeting that His Excellency President Edgar Lungu and Mr Hakainde Hichilema had vis-a-vis the national dialogue, to avoid confusing ourselves or mixing up things:
1. It is normal and factually speaking, routine for His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu, as President of the Republic, leader of government, head of state and commander in chief of all armed forces to meet various stakeholders from student leaders, marketeers, civil society leaders, politicians to leaders of the church in his quest to consult, debate, explain, agree or indeed chat a way forward on various national issues. Hence the meeting between the President and Mr Hichilema must be understood in this context; it is nothing peculiar and there is nothing spectacular about it.
2. The meeting between the President and Mr Hichilema had nothing to do with PERSONAL issues. The two leaders met to discuss NATIONAL issues among them, Constitutional Reforms, Judicial Reforms, Electoral Reforms and the Public Order Act.
3. There is nothing personal between His Excellency President Edgar Lungu and Mr Hichilema, it’s not a bromance and therefore the said meeting does not in any way change drastically the political spectrum because sincerely speaking, there is nothing monumental about it; it’s a normal course of duty for the President, head of state and commander in chief to meet different stakeholders.
4. To be clear, as PF, we will continue to carry out our mandate as a ruling party. We shall not cow down or falter in our quest to promote and defend the truth and national sovereignty. Whenever Mr Hichilema and his UPND lie as per their strategy, a strategy of employing lies, misinformation, propaganda, bitterness and tribal hegemony, we as PF will not waste a second in exposing and hammering them. We have no apology to make.