(By Chambwa Moonga in Kitwe)
SOCIALIST Party 2021 presidential candidate Dr Fred M’membe says without the working class directly taking over the governance of Zambia, through their left-centred party, they will be jumping back and forth from the frying pan into fire.
Meanwhile, Dr M’membe has declared that it is forward to a more just, fair, humane and socialist Zambia.
Addressing a public rally yesterday, Dr M’membe reminded the working class that what they could not do for themselves, no one would it for them.
The venue was Nsansa ground, in an expansive second-rate Racecourse residential area in Kitwe.
Around the banner-waving and blissful crowd flew Zambia’s and red Socialist Party flags, all tied to metal masts.
The messages on the displayed banners were simply around the ethos of socialism – justice, equity and peace.
Before Dr M’membe could go on the dazzling and sturdy stage to address the crowd, entertainment – whether in form of songs, drama, cultural performances, among others – reigned.
It was, however, the awakening Ngoni warrior dance performed by Nsingu Brigade that left the gathering yearning for an encore.
Wearing revolutionary-like green apparel, Dr M’membe jumped on the stage at 14:00 hours and waved his trademark cap to the crowd, before raising his left hand fist – that sent the multitudes into rapture.
Dr M’membe started his address by telling the crowd that it was: “really a wonderful feeling” for him to be in Kitwe, “the town of my early childhood in Wusakile and of my university days at the University of Zambia, Ndola Campus at Kitwe, now Copperbelt University.”
“I am here because of you. I am here because of your suffering. I am here because of the humiliation you have to endure everyday due to unemployment, poor housing, sanitation, water supply, failing to feed your children and pay their school fees,” Dr M’membe said.
“I am here because of the challenges you are facing in paying medical bills for yourselves and your families. I am here because of the difficulties you are facing to clothe yourselves and your children.”
He commiserated with majority poor Zambians who now have to resort to wearing clothes from: “dead people in Europe – salaula (second-hand clothes).
“Nshiletukana salaula iyo (I’m not insulting second-hand clothes at all). Pali ino inshita salaula ilefwaikwa (second-hand clothes are needed as at now). Ukwabula salaula ngatwenda ubwamba (without second-hand clothes, we would have been going about naked)!”
He noted that those Zambians entrusted to govern them have, instead, governed against the citizens.
Dr M’membe emphasised that only the workers can govern in a manner that benefited them.
“Only a party of the working class, a socialist party, can govern in your interest,” Dr M’membe said.
“Only a leadership truly and sincerely committed to the cause of the working class, a socialist leadership can serve the interests of the worker, the poor. And this is what I am deployed by comrades to pursue as President of the Republic of Zambia.”
He highlighted that many years of commitment to working class causes and his personal experiences have prepared him for the current deployment.
Dr M’membe, however, said he was not a messiah.
“There can only be one messiah and that is Christ. I am simply a guide to this struggle. The heroes and heroines of this struggle are you the humble workers of this country, the poor of this country,” he said.
“And it is you and only you, who can establish a more just, fair and humane society – a society anchored on honesty, equity, humility and solidarity – in our homeland. I bring to your struggle, your party my humble peasant and working class backgrounds. I bring to your struggle fruits of the free education I received from you, paid for by the humble workers of this country. I bring to this struggle some experience gained in the struggles I have participated in in other lands.”
Dr M’membe said he wanted to share with the crowd the love given to him by: “the humble peasants, workers who brought me up and those I had the privilege of working with over the years.”
He deplored the ingrained poverty among the country’s working class.
“You the worker works for others but no one works for you. Do you see any people coming from ku to come work for you in kwa? It is you from kwa who are everyday going to ku to work for them – to clean for them, wash for them, make their beds, cook for them and look after their children as maids,” Dr M’membe said.
“The beautiful houses they live in, it’s you the worker from kwa who build them, but look at where you yourself lives in kwa! You the worker has problems with water, sanitation, food, shelter, jobs, education, health and roads. Those who govern, your rulers don’t have problems with these things – fyonse fili mbwembwe! (everything is readily available)”
He pointed out that the challenges before Zambians were gigantic and required a lot of knowledge and: “very strong principles.”
“We have to create jobs in a country, a world that is everyday losing jobs to technology, artificial intelligence systems. No matter how many foreign investors we bring in, we will never have those big armies of mine workers we used to have. Today a few pieces of high tech equipment wipes out thousands of mining jobs,” he observed.
“The big numbers of workers we used to have on commercial farms are gone. They have been replaced by more efficient machines – combine harvesters, digitalised tractors navigated by satellite. The many jobs we used to have in the banks are gone forever and ever. Amen! They have been replaced by ATMs and other technologies.”
He added that a human being could not compete with the ATM.
“The ATM doesn’t go on maternity leave – taifyala (it doesn’t reproduce). The ATM doesn’t need to take time off for funerals – it has no relatives or friends who die. The ATM doesn’t go to Church on Sunday or Saturday, it has no god to worship. It just works and works!” Dr M’membe explained.
“Let’s not make the mistake of thinking the problem is technology. We need this technology. The problem is not the technology but the capitalist system that doesn’t fairly share the benefits of technology with the worker – the worker who created the technology.”
He told the gathering that technology should not necessarily lead to loss of jobs but lead to workers working fewer hours and using the time saved on further studies, family, sports, arts, visiting relatives and spiritual development.
Dr M’membe observed that the growing unemployment, inequality and poverty had not been ordained on Zambians by God.
“If it was, I would say let’s just walk across to that cemetery and bury ourselves alive because there’s nothing we can do against God’s will. But this is a creation of human hands. And because it is a product of human decisions and actions, with hard work and tenacious struggle, we can remedy it,” Dr M’membe said.
“This is a product of capitalist exploitation, oppression and humiliation. It can only be corrected by you the exploited, oppressed and humiliated taking your destiny into your own hands by, as a class, becoming the rulers of this country.”
Dr M’membe underscored that the Socialist Party was there to enable the oppressed working class to win political power and use that power to build a society in which they could have the dignity that came from justice, equity and peace
“This is what this party of yours is for; this is what I am here for. Together we will struggle to ensure that all have jobs, free education and health services, dignified housing, sanitation, clean water, food and all the other services required in an organised society,” he noted, but reminded the crowd that the struggle won’t be easy.
“79 years ago, 17 mine workers were killed here in Kitwe at Rokana mine by capitalism for simply demanding to be respected as human beings and to be treated in a just, fair and humane way. Today, here in this same Kitwe, we launch our peaceful struggle for a more just, fair and humane Zambia. In the coming days, weeks and months we will elaborate how this will be done, struggled for by you our heroes and heroines and by us your guides.”
Dr M’membe lamented that poverty levels on the Copperbelt stood at 30.8 per cent, yet the region was Zambia’s industrial centre.
He, however, noted that poverty figure for the Copperbelt was not the worst.
“We have poverty levels of 82.2 per cent in Western Province, 81.1 per cent in Luapula Province, 79.7 per cent in Northern Province, 70 per cent in Eastern Province, 69.3 per cent in Muchinga Province, 66.4 per cent in North-western Province, 57.6 per cent in Southern Province, 56.2 per cent in Central Province and 20.2 per cent in Lusaka Province,” Dr M’membe highlighted.
“Today our country is fourth hungriest country in Africa after Chad, the Central African Republic and Madagascar. We are number four in Africa kunsala. If it was soccer we would qualify straight to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup! Chad and the Central African Republic are deserts or semi deserts….”
Dr M’membe observed that Zambia was blessed with good soils and plenty water and asked what more its people needed from God.
“Manna! Tayakamoneke (it won’t be seen) manna. Inshiku shakwa Noah tashakabwele (days of Noah are no more). How can we be number four in Africa kunsala na fyonse ifi Lesa atupela (with all these God has blessed us with how can be be fouth in terms of hunger?) Tatuletekwa bwino (we are not governed well!)” he said.
Dr M’membe further pointed out that Zambians’ suffering, misery, humiliation did not start today.
“Now we need to quickly get out of the fire before we are burnt to ashes. But not jumping into the frying pan again! This is where your party, our party, a party of the humble, by the humble, for the humble – the workers party, the Socialist Party – comes in,” noted Dr M’membe.
“This is where you come in; this is where I come in. Without you, as a class – the working class – directly taking over the governance of this country through your party, guided by the working class ideology of socialism, you will be jumping back and forth from frying pan into fire.”