THE National Indaba meant to discuss solutions to the effects of the global economic crunch starts in Lusaka today as the expected number of delegates rose to 600.
And President Rupiah Banda, who is expected to officially open the indaba at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, said the gathering was all-inclusive because all major stakeholders had been invited.
Mr Banda said when some German parliamentarians paid a courtesy call on him at State House that the Government had invited all stakeholders, including politicians, to discuss various challenges the nation was facing.
Acting Secretary to the Cabinet Robert Mataka said in a statement that by mid-day yesterday, many delegates from the Copperbelt, Lusaka and other provinces had arrived and registered for the conference.
Mr Mataka said the indaba, under the theme 'Global crisis and its Impact on Zambian economy' would be opened today and delegates were expected to arrive at the venue by 08:00 hours.
He said that tomorrow, the indaba would also start at 08:00 hours with presentations from various sectors, and Vice-President George Kunda is expected to close the conference by 18:00 hours.
"The two-day dialogue will be chaired by Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi with experts drawn from all the sectors as moderators and speakers.
"The conference has been called by the Government as an initiative to find the way forward in addressing the global crisis that has affected many countries, including Zambia," Mr Mataka said.
The invitees to the indaba include prominent economists, businessmen, the clergy and leaders of trade unions and employer organisations.
Others are Cabinet ministers and their deputies, permanent secretaries, special assistants to the president, representatives from the House of Chiefs, members of Parliament, heads of missions and development agencies and the World Bank.
The rest are leaders of opposition political parties, heads of parastatal bodies and statutory boards, unions, private sector institutions, media associations, international delegates, civil society organisations, professional bodies and associations.
Among the notable delegates that were found accrediting themselves for the national dialogue were UNIP president Tilyenji Kaunda and his vice Njekwa Anamela, former vice-president Enoch Kavindele and Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zambia president Henry Kabwe.
Speaking in an interview, Mr Anamela said holding the indaba was a move in the right direction, as it would enable the country resolve numerous problems.
Mr Anamela said it was important that politicians and other stakeholders seized the opportunity and attended the national dialogue.
"Zambians should not allow this opportunity to elude them. This is the chance that we have as a country to resolve the cross-cutting issues that have engulfed our nation," Mr Anamela.
And the Anti-Voter Apathy Project (Avap) has regretted the decision by some opposition political parties to shun the indaba.
Speaking in an interview in Lusaka yesterday, Avap executive director, Bonnie Tembo said opposition parties' participation in the indaba would have improved the credibility of the forum because more people would have been represented through them.
Mr Tembo said it was unfortunate that key players to the indaba were politicising it instead of contributing to its fruition for the benefit of the country whose interests were supposed to be first.
He said consensus could only be reached if people talked about issues that affected them amicably and not to be talking to each other through the media.
And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) general secretary, Roy Mwaba appealed to President Banda to consider meeting Patriotic Front leader, Michael Sata and United Party for National Development president, Hakainde Hichilema to resolve contentious issues which caused them to boycott the indaba.
The Kitwe Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) complained that the list of participants attending the national indaba was not inclusive.
KCCI president, Berry Mwango said in a statement in Kitwe yesterday that the chamber appreciated the fact that the national indaba was important and a great opportunity for different sectors of the economy to put their views across.