WE have to struggle very hard to give our children and all our people a dignified life, says Dr Fred M’membe.
In his reflections on the death of three-year-old Grace whom he was pictured holding last year, the Socialist Party president said life is sacred and should not be lost anyhow.
“Some sad reflections. This evening [Thursday] I had a very, very, very sad message from my daughter: ‘The child you were pictured holding when you visited Kanyama last year has passed away. The Comrade located the place. The child died yesterday from what they are saying is a running stomach and she found the expected, completely nothing at the funeral house. She has given me some contact numbers but both are currently unreachable’,” he said in a statement from Mwika Royal Village in Chinsali. “Life is sacred. It shouldn’t be lost in this way. It really breaks my heart. I am very far away from Lusaka carrying out my revolutionary duties. We have to struggle very hard and with all the tenacity to give our children, and indeed all our people, a better and dignified life.”
Dr M’membe went on to invoke Dr Ernesto Che Guevara’s revolutionary words that: “At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”
In October last year, Dr M’membe visited a 34-year-old jobless mother of five who is struggling to provide for her children in Lusaka’s Kanyama Compound after being abandoned by her husband.
Dr M’membe learned about Josephine Thole’s situation after her story appeared on ZNBC Television news.
The oldest of Thole’s children, Moses then 12, was not in school because she couldn’t afford to pay his fees.
Thole and her other children, namely Dorothy, Mapalo, Emmanuel and Grace lived in a one-room house without electricity and running water in Kanyama compound.
She explained that providing for her children had been hard since the departure of her husband and relies mainly on washing for residents in the suburbs for an income.
Dr M’membe donated foodstuffs which included bags of mealie-meal, cooking oil, trays of eggs, chickens, cooking oil, washing and bathing soap as well as clothes for the five children.
The opposition party leader observed that what Thole was going through was not an isolated incident but a countrywide problem.
“Many of our families are not coping with the economic and financial challenges and are breaking. Human dignity is, in a very big way, being undermined by economic and financial difficulties,” he said. “It is a terrible frustration and humiliation for a parent to be unable, due to unemployment, to provide for the family.”
Dr M’membe added that the breakup of Zambian families was being fuelled by the stresses of poverty, joblessness and failing businesses.
He said a strong economic foundation was needed for stronger family values.
“The stress of being unemployed, of being in poverty, puts pressure on relationships and increases their risk of breakdown,” he said.
Dr M’membe said broken relationships could cause poverty for both parents.
“It breaks one’s heart to see these innocent and lovely children suffering in this way. This is how cruel capitalism can be; this is how children are abandoned under this system devoid of equity and solidarity,” said Dr M’membe.