THE Socialist Party (Zambia) says it is time for the majority jobless young Zambians to seek a solution outside the capitalist system.
And civil activist and poet Chama Fumba says Zambia’s independence remains undefined politically, economically and socially. The Socialist Party politburo says Zambia’s political independence was without the requisite economic muscle. It further observed that the fanfare of liberalisation, commercialisation and privatisation, post-1991, blinded Zambians from the real economic banditry and looting that was going on.
“Today, Zambians stand shocked at how little they now control their economy. They are wondering as to why the economy is not creating wealth for the majority and helping to reduce poverty,” according to the politburo.
“They are questioning why quality jobs have become rare and unemployment has become an accepted condition. The answer is that a neoliberal economy at the periphery of capitalism is not designed to answer these questions. Neo-liberal capitalism is the major cause of this tragedy.”
The politburo stressed that today, as rightly observed by its Deputy General Secretary Dr Fred M’membe, who is also the 2021 general elections Presidential Candidate, earlier in the year, “Zambia has a very serious problem of joblessness, which if not sorted out urgently might cause a lot of problems. Young people coming out of school can’t find jobs. There will be no jobs created by foreign investors no matter how many foreign investors are brought into the mining sector. Those armies of miners we used to have will never be seen again. Those jobs have been taken over by machines, excavators.”
In its Independence Day message issued by General Secretary Dr Cosmas Musumali, the politburo said “it is time, therefore, for the majority jobless young Zambians faced with this serious problem to seek a solution outside the capitalist system. Only this way is genuine independence based on Justice, Equity and Peace (JEP) possible.”
Dr Musumali recalled that on October 24, 1964, all Zambians woke up to celebrate their political emancipation from 33 years of Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company and 40-year British colonial rule.
He stated that after 73 years of colonial domination, Zambians now had an opportunity for self and majority rule.
Dr Musumali stated that the independence struggle was organised, led and executed mainly by a young generation of fighters.
“They were a combination of student activists, trade union organisers, social workers, promoters of the emerging African cooperative movement, miners toiling under exploitative and oppressive working conditions, teachers and other professionals, emergent entrepreneurs and a few intellectuals and technocrats,” he stated. “It was a multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-cultural grouping. Zimbabweans, Malawians, South Africans, British, Indian and several other nationalities were not uncommon participants in the struggle for Zambian independence. There was unity of purpose in defeating an inhuman and exploitative colonial system.”
Dr Musumali stated political independence did not address the fundamental question of compensation for the 10,000 young Ngoni patriots and many others murdered for resisting colonial rule.
“It did not facilitate compensation for the 10,750 stolen Ngoni cattle herds, timber, ivory, precious and industrial minerals looted over a lengthy period. Neither did political independence transfer the ownership of the stolen means of production, including the most fertile agricultural land, from the colonial forces to the Zambian working masses,” he explained. “It was therefore political independence without the requisite economic muscle.”
Dr Musumali explained that through a series of economic reforms in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the young post-independence leadership worked hard at correcting the anomaly.
He stated that the aim was to create some economic space in which Zambia would truly be independent from neo-colonialism.
“However, the multinational corporations to be nationalised often short-circuited the process through complex financial, economic and technological options that made a mockery of the exercise,” Dr Musumali stated. “In addition, the often-misplaced policy, regulation and management of the nationalised entities compromised progress.”
He stated that the economic burden of the liberation struggle for southern Africa plus globalised economic crises of the mid-1970s also played their role in halting the envisaged economic emancipation.
“The growing hegemony of neo-liberal capitalism under the Washington consensus literarily buried all the existing hopes and aspirations. The economic reforms implemented after 1991 were therefore a complete reversal of the notion of independence. The little economic space that had been created was closed. The fanfare of liberalisation, commercialisation and privatisation blinded Zambians from the real economic banditry and looting that was going on,” Dr Musumali stated.
“Today, Zambians stand shocked at how little they now control their economy. They are wondering as to why the economy is not creating wealth for the majority and helping to reduce poverty. They are questioning why quality jobs have become rare and unemployment has become an accepted condition. The answer is that a neo-liberal economy at the periphery of capitalism is not designed to answer these questions. Neo-liberal capitalism is the major cause of this tragedy.”
He urged Zambians to take a deep reflection as to the solution.
“As a revolutionary political formation, the Socialist Party (SP) is cognizant that although economic independence has eluded us, what was achieved on the 24th October 1964 still has to be celebrated by all – including our growing numbers of young Zambian revolutionary cadres currently engaged in a conscience class struggle against neo-liberal capitalism,” stated Dr Musumali.
And Fumba, popularly known as ‘Pilato’ an acronym for, People in Lyrical Arena Taking Over, said after 54 years of independence Zambia’s education system had remained underfunded and ill-equipped.
“The truest expression of Independence should mean being free and non-dependent. Our independence remains undefined politically, economically and socially. Our education system is still a colonial script that was crafted to transform black people into useful tools for the colonial masters,” Fumba said. “We attained independence, our African leaders did not care to restructure our education system; instead they maintained it because they became beneficiaries of a rotten system. The black colonisers who are our political leaders did not care to change the education system that was used to enslave the minds of our people. Today after 54 years of the so-called independence, our education system has remained under-funded and ill equipped. Today we have students rioting and being killed for meal allowances. The question then is, what are we independent from?”
He said 54 years after gaining independence Zambia had a government that arrogantly uses the law to terrorise its own citizens just like the colonial masters did.
“Today after 54 years of Independence, we have pieces of law that were inherited from the colonial masters, the same pieces of law that were used to limit our freedoms. What are we independent from? The struggle for independence was a struggle against ideals, against a system that undermined our humanity and capacity to exist as human beings but today 54 years later we have the same system and ideals at play and the only difference is it is the fellow black man managing it,” Fumba lamented.
He said independence was a process and not an event, arguing that today the country seemed to be going backwards.
“Today, we have a government that is arrogantly auctioning off land and assets to the global big buyer while the poorest of our people are being left homeless in their own country. We have a government that is very much on guard against Western imperialism yet so vulnerable to the Eastern imperialism. Independence is a process and not an event, after the declaration of Independence in 1964, Dr [Kenneth] Kaunda and his government led the way in the direction of independence with a defined ideological conviction,” Fumba said. “When president [Frederick] Chiluba took over, it was the next phase of that development. We were introduced to a multiparty phase, which is and was in line with a progressive realisation of our independence. Today we seem to be going backwards. The government of President [Edgar] Lungu lacks the ideological direction, the required patriotism and defined national conviction for a continued realisation of our own independence.”
He said it was evident in the way President Lungu’s government conducted itself and the decisions they make.
“Today the Times of Zambia, a government managed newspaper is writing stories in Mandarin because they want the Chinese money, they don’t seem to care about anything but the Chinese money,” Fumba said. “This is a national newspaper that has never written stories in Tonga to attract rich Namwala farmers. This is a newspaper that has never written stories in Bemba to attract rich Bemba businessmen and women yet today they are bending over to attract the Chinese money. Is this an act of patriotism?”
He said the only people that were independent are those in power.
“To be independent means to be free, but are we free to speak and participate in the dialogue on issues affecting us? It is just a few days that five Pastors and three members of the Civil Society Organisations were arrested for discussing the national budget. It is just a few days ago when Hon. Harry Kalaba was asked to leave Mwinilunga by the police because he did not have a ‘pass’ to go into that area,” noted Fumba. “Are we independent? The only people that are independent are those in power. Yes, it is only President Lungu and his ministers who are independent. They are economically, politically and socially free while the rest of us have become their slaves. We walk in fear not knowing who is watching our backs. If we have to speak to other people, we need permits.”