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Great coincidences exist between Christianity and socialism – a reflection by Dr Fred M’membe

Great coincidences exist between Christianity and socialism – a reflection by Dr Fred M’membe Featured

There are thousands more coincidences between Christianity and socialism than between Christianity and capitalism.

Responding probably to different motivations, they both advocate attitudes and behaviours that are quite similar.

There’s great coincidence between Christianity’s objectives and the ones we socialists seek, between the Christian teachings of humility, austerity, selfishness and loving thy neighbour and what we might call the content of a revolutionary’s life and behaviour. For, what is the Socialist Party teaching its members and the Zambian people? To kill? To be selfish? To exploit others? Just the opposite. We are teaching them unwavering commitment to honest, equity, humility and solidarity.

We are telling them that our country right now may be too poor to give our people great material wealth, but it can give them a sense of equity and of human dignity.

We socialists believe that Christ was a revolutionary par excellence. His entire doctrine was devoted to the humble, the poor; his doctrine was devoted to fighting against abuse, injustice and the degradation of human beings.

There’s a lot in common between the spirit and essence of Christ’s teachings and socialism.
And the Bible has very revolutionary content. The teachings of Christ are very revolutionary and completely coincide with our aims as socialists.

That is why we believe and openly say that we socialists are not the only revolutionaries. All those who truly follow Christ’s doctrine and devote themselves to the cause of the humble, the poor; and devote themselves to fighting against injustice, abuse and the degradation of human beings and to helping them liberate themselves are all revolutionaries.

Like we socialists, the Catholic social teaching does advocate the protection of property rights, but only when strongly situated within what is called the universal destination of goods. That is, “Christian tradition has never recognised the right to private property as absolute and untouchable: ‘On the contrary, it has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole of creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone.”
(Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 177, quoting St. John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens). And because God intends the world to provide for the needs of every person, the distribution of resources must allow every human person with what is needed for a full life. Isn’t this what we socialists are advocating for?

In his encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” St. John XXIII explained: “Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health; disability stemming from his work; widowhood; old age; enforced unemployment; or whenever through no fault of his own he is deprived of the means of livelihood” (No. 11). Isn’t this what the Socialist Party’s manifesto is advocating for?

A defense of property, absent that context, functions to absolve those who own property from responsibility to those in desperate need. But Catholic teaching treats the withholding of resources from those in need as a failure of justice, and so private property always comes with a “social mortgage.”

Pope Leo XIII explained in his encyclical “Rerum Novarum”: “[W]hen there is a question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State” (No. 37). Isn’t this what we socialists are seeking?

And what is being advocated by the Catholic social teaching is not consistent with the capitalist social order.

Even on religious liberty, the Catholic social teaching is saying that it must also respect the common good.

As capitalists, with their religious agents, seek to accord special recognition to Christianity or section of it, the “Compendium” says, “Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” (No. 423). The church’s witness to the Gospel always requires (and Catholics must acknowledge that it often has failed in this) the defense of the well-being of persons who do not accept the Gospel, in keeping with the commands to love both neighbour and enemy. The purpose of the right to religious liberty within Catholic thought is both to make room for the church’s freedom to give witness to the Gospel and also to honour the call of God for every person to freely enter into communion with the divine life. These two purposes are not at odds.
The church’s witness to the Gospel always requires the defense of the well-being of persons who do not accept the Gospel.

The document “Dignitatis Humanae,” promulgated at the Second Vatican Council, explains it thus: “It is…completely in accord with the nature of faith that in matters religious every manner of coercion on the part of men should be excluded. In consequence, the principle of religious freedom makes no small contribution to the creation of an environment in which men can without hindrance be invited to the Christian faith, embrace it of their own free will, and profess it effectively in their whole manner of life” (No. 10).

This makes it important to remember that Catholic teaching says the right to religious liberty “is not of itself an unlimited right. The just limits of the exercise of religious freedom must be determined in each social situation with political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority through legal norms consistent with the objective moral order” (No. 422).

And speaking for myself, I can say that the ethical values that are propelling my revolutionary, socialist work came from my Catholic upbringing and education, from my teachers – the Capuchin Fathers, the Irish Christian Brothers and Sacred Heart Brothers. I would even say from my Christian family, home.

I was taught very early in my life that I should not lie. I was taught what was right and wrong, things that should and should not be done. I remember being punished by my Form 1 mathematics teacher at St John’s Secondary School to write 3,000 times, “Oh what a web we weave for ourselves when we first practice to deceive.” I had not done my homework and when asked about it, I lied that I had left it in the dormitory. I was told to go and get it. And immediately after I left classroom, the teacher told the class I was not going to come with any homework. He asked for a bet on it. When I came back empty-handed, the whole class burst into laughter. I have carried these words and memories of that day with me wherever I am and in whatever I do. And I remind my classmates of this incident whenever we meet. That was my baptism out of lying.

Later on, my revolutionary and political involvement began to create in me a feeling of what was wrong, the violation of an ethical standard, an injustice, abuse or fraud. I began to have an idea of what was fair and unfair. I began to have a concept of personal dignity. I think I have always had a sense of justice – from very early on – because of what I saw and experienced.

Undoubtedly, my Catholic upbringing and education influenced me a lot. The Capuchin Fathers, the Irish Christian Brothers and Sacred Heart Brothers inculcated a very strong sense of personal dignity in me, regardless of their political ideas which quite often I didn’t agree with. They valued character, rectitude, honesty, courage and ability to make sacrifices.

The Irish Christian Brothers definitely influenced me with their strict organisation, their discipline and their values. They contributed to my development and sense of justice. Following that path, I came to view abuse, injustice as unacceptable.

If you mix ethical values with a spirit of rebellion and rejection of injustice you begin to appreciate and place a high value on a number of things that other people don’t value at all. A sense of personal dignity, honour and duty form the main foundation that enables people to acquire political consciousness and a revolutionary spirit.

Date: August 9, 2020
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali.

Some sad reflections

Some sad reflections

This evening 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.”

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.

And let Dr Ernesto Che Guevara’s very important revolutionary words ring in our ears: “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.”

Fred M’membe
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali
22:41 hours

Reflections on the conviction and imprisonment of Mr Chishimba Kambwili

Reflections on the conviction and imprisonment of Mr Chishimba Kambwili

I am not surprised that Mr Chishimba Kambwili has been convicted and sent to jail.

Mr Kambwili had made very serious allegations of soliciting a bribe against the trial magistrate. The logical thing would have been to remove this magistrate from hearing Mr Kambwili’s case to ensure that a fair trial is not only guaranteed but it is also seen to be assured.

I don’t think Mr Kambwili received what can pass or be seen as a fair trial.

Without delving into the merits or demerits of the case, very few can say Mr Kambwili has been convicted and sent to jail by an impartial magistrate. There was no fair trial in this case. It’s very important for every accused person to have a fair trial.
It’s actually impossible to overstate how important the right to a fair trial is. Honestly.

Fair trials are the only way to prevent miscarriages of justice and are an essential part of a just, fair and humane society. Every person accused of a crime should have their guilt or innocence determined by a fair and effective legal process. But its not just about protecting suspects and defendants. It also makes our nation safer and stronger. Without fair trials, victims can have no confidence that justice will be done. Without fair trials, trust in government and the rule of law collapses.

The right to a fair trial has long been recognised by the international community as a basic human right. Despite this, it’s a right that is increasingly being abused in this country to settle political and other scores with devastating human and social consequences.

Despite the importance of fair trials being recognised by the international community, this basic human right is being abused day-in-day-out in this country. We must put an end to these abuses. Let’s build a criminal justice system in which every person’s right to a fair trial is respected. We won’t get there overnight. But with each step we take towards a criminal justice system in which every person’s right to a fair trial is respected, we are protecting our people against miscarriages of justice and building fair and effective criminal justice systems that benefit everyone.

Lastly, my great fear is Mr Kambwili’s state of health. He has very dangerous levels of hypertension. If Mr Kambwili was to die in prison under these circumstances his death would be very difficult for this government to explain to our people. This may fuel very serious political mistrust, tension and instability in our country.

Fred M’membe
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali

NO government is permanent – Dr M’membe

NO government is permanent – Dr M’membe

NO government is permanent, says Socialist Party president Dr Fred M’membe.
Meanwhile, Dr M’membe notes that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) will breed problems, if it does not build consensus on the electoral process.
On Hot FM radio’s Red Hot breakfast show on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, programme co-host, Mutale Mwanza, asked Dr M’membe if he thought there was currently any wind of change.
“Nothing is permanent in life – everything changes. Even our bodies are changing every second; the cells are replicating themselves. No government is permanent, no system is permanent,” Dr M’membe answered.
He said capitalism, like colonialism, would crumble.
“Humanity started living under primitive communalism where we were just hunters and gatherers. Then we came to the slave-owning society which lasted thousands of years, then we came to the feudal society and then we entered the capitalist society,” he explained.
“The capitalist society is not permanent; it’s just about 600 or 700 years old. It will go away and be replaced with another system. There was colonialism in this country and we never thought it would end. [But] it ended. There was the one party state which was so powerful and we never thought it would end. [But] it ended. Nothing is permanent; everything is under motion. Everything is undergoing change.”
He told socially and economically distraught Zambians that: “It gets dark sometimes; but the morning comes. Don’t give up! Don’t despair. A better society is possible but we have to struggle for it. It won’t just come like manna. Good things don’t come easy, they don’t come by themselves,” Dr M’membe said.
“We have to work for them. Let’s work for a better society where children can have access to education, to health services, to food, and grow up in a dignified way.”
Dr M’membe, who was Post Newspapers editor-in-chief and managing director for over two decades, refused credit of catapulting the PF into power in 2011.
“I did not create PF and it is an over credit to give me all the credit for Michael’s victory in 2011. I don’t think I deserve that credit,” Dr M’membe noted, when a caller told him that a monster (the PF) he helped to create has now turned against him.
“If I could put Michael into government in 2011, then it would be very easy to put the Socialist Party in government next year.”
On divisive electoral matters, Dr M’membe cautioned that without building sufficient consensus on what the ECZ was doing, “we’ll have problems”.
“Firstly, the way ECZ is composed; the people who are appointed to be the commissioners, the chairperson, the vice-chairperson, others of the ECZ are appointed by our competitors in elections. Our law is such that today the President appoints all those people single-handedly, without consulting other stakeholders,” he said.
“Yes, there is ratification in Parliament but that’s a Parliament they dominate as well, and they just need a simple majority to do that. The other stakeholders have no say in who the referees, the match commissioners are.”
Dr M’membe pointed out that it was for that reason that whatever ECZ officials try to do, “no matter how good it is,” was viewed with suspicion.
“The amount of work that they need to bring consensus and [to] bring acceptability, is much higher than they are doing right now. They are not approaching issues in a manner that will result in maximum consensus,” he noted.
“Without building that consensus, without adequate consensus over everything that they do… Some of the schemes they are coming up with are questionable. I don’t know how they will manage to register nine million people in 30 days. And what does the law say? It requires continuous voter registration. Every citizen who is 18 years should not be denied the chance to vote.”
He stressed that the ECZ would have many problems in 2021.
“The resources available to ECZ to conduct next year’s elections are limited. The government is broke! We don’t know if there will be donors to fund our elections next year,” said Dr M’membe.
“There will be challenges! We are used to expensive elections [but] next year money will not be available. It’s not easy to build consensus.”

By Socialist Party reporter

Socialism is not a complicated concept – Dr M’membe

Socialism is not a complicated concept – Dr M’membe

FRED M’membe says socialism is not a complicated concept.
Meanwhile, Dr M’membe, the Socialist Party president, says he cannot be a burden-bearer for President Edgar Lungu.
Dr M’membe featured on Hot FM radio’s Red Hot breakfast show on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
He explained that socialism was simply giving a dignified life to citizens.
“Socialism is not a complicated thing as people try to make it. It’s not about bombastic words, bombastic concepts. Socialism is simply giving a dignified life to our people, by providing them with services that make life dignified,” Dr M’membe clarified.
“Our priority will be to give our children the education they need. So, we’ll socialise education and make it free from nursery, at the age of three, all the way to university.”
He asserted that a better society, in the modern world, could not be built with uneducated people.
“It’s not possible!” Dr M’membe argued.
“The more a woman gets educated, the lesser and lesser infant mortality rates you have, because they are able to look after children better. So, it will be compulsory for every citizen to go to school up to Grade 12.”
Dr M’membe added that under a socialist-oriented government, “the adults who are illiterate today, within two years, we’ll make them literate.”
“We’ll have a huge literacy campaign, which we have already started….” he said.
He also explained that Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) had been on the current capitalist path since 1891 when Cecil Rhodes and his company, the British South Africa Company (BSA), colonised the territory.
“We have been on that path to this very day from 1891. We know what capitalism has done to our country. If capitalism had succeeded in this country, there would be no need for any other system. There would be no need for socialism,” Dr M’membe noted.
“But capitalism has not only impoverished our people but it has also killed.

By Socialist Party reporter

Zambia now divided into two, the haves and have-nots – Dr Mwikisa

Zambia now divided into two, the haves and have-nots – Dr Mwikisa

SOCIALIST Party second vice-president Dr Chris Ngenda Mwikisa has regretted that Zambia is now evidently divided into the haves and the have-nots.
Dr Mwikisa is a member of the Socialist Party politburo and the central committee, as well as the general treasurer of the party.
On Monday, October 12, 2020, he unveiled names of aspiring parliamentary candidates in three provinces – Western, Eastern and Lusaka.
The names of those adopted are Chiteo Singongi (Kalabo), Matakala (Nkeyema), Sitali Likubangu (Sikongo), Preston Chinyama (Nalolo), Ntazana Musukuma (Chawama), John Zulu (Kasenengwa), Martin Phiri (Mkaika) and Kenani Kalala (Chipangali).
Dr Mwikisa said the aforementioned comrades were selected in their communities/constituencies to stand as members of parliament.
“Those adopted clearly understands the values, principles of socialism and the Socialist Party. We are driven by solidarity, humility, equity,” Dr Mwikisa said.
He added that it was common knowledge to all everyone now that Zambia was one of the poorest countries.
“Today we have one Zambia but two nations; a nation of the well-off and a nation of the poor. That is what the Socialist Party is trying to change, to ensure [that] there is equity,”
“These comrades will work hard to ensure that there is equity in their constituencies.”
He also indicated that it was not right for a country like Zambia, with abundant water bodies, to have so many people with no access to water for drinking and other domestic uses.
The adopted candidates assured of their commitment to the socialist cause, and that they would complement Socialist Party president Dr Fred M’membe and the party’s structures, as a way of effecting positive development.

By Socialist Party reporter