On the 24th October 1964, Zambians from all walks of life and class inclination woke up to celebrate their political emancipation from 33 years of Cecil John Rhodes and his British South Africa Company and 40 years British colonial rule. After 73 years of colonial domination, Zambians now had an opportunity for self and majority rule.
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. 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.
However, 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. It was therefore political independence without the requisite economic muscle.
Through a series of economic reforms in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the young post-independence leadership worked hard at correcting this anomaly. 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 and technological options that made a mockery of the exercise. In addition, the often-misplaced policy, regulation and management of the nationalised entities compromised progress. 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.
Today, Zambians stand shocked at how little they now control of 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 neoliberal economy at the periphery of capitalism is not designed to answer theses questions. Neo-liberal capitalism is the major cause of this tragedy.
As we celebrate the Independence Day, it is therefore important 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 alluded 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 neoliberal capitalism.
Today, as rightly observed by our Deputy General Secretary Cde 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.” 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.
LONG LIVE THE SPIRIT OF LIBERATION
Issued By: Comrade Cosmas Musumali/On Behalf of the Politburo