Author: Socialist Party ZambiaThe Socialist Party is a political formation whose primary mandate is to promote and entrench socialist values in the Zambian society. Anchored on the principles of Justice, Equity and Peace (JEP), the Socialist Party shall transform the Zambian society from capitalism to socialism, building socialism in three key sectors: Education, Agriculture and Health.

Statement of the Socialist Party on a National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Statement of the Socialist Party on a National Response to the COVID-19 pandemic Featured

Humanity has been subjected to the COVID-19 for more than a year now. Soon, more than a 100 million people would have been infected and 2 million of those infected would have died! Yet the end of the pandemic is not near. The global frenzy with inoculations may help to bring down the infection rates – and may be even make our world safe from COVID-19.
However we should brace ourselves for a long haul – more especially in the periphery capitalist countries such as Zambia.
The demand side of the pandemic is complex enough.  High poverty levels, an extremely high burden of existing communicable and non-communicable diseases, low levels of hygiene, poor access to clean water and sanitation, crowded and poor housing conditions, illiteracy and poor health seeking behaviour are all factors that severely compromise health outcomes.
Similarly, the supply side is pathetic. We observe the presence of a weak and poorly resourced health system, rampant corruption at all levels of governance, the sheer absence of a science-led approach, heavy dependence on external partners that are themselves struggling to meet the health needs of their citizens, frightening incompetence in managing the COVID-19 pandemic as well as sluggish GDP growth.
The class character and implications of the pandemic are also apparent. Those able to travel abroad – the well off, initially introduced the COVID-19 pandemic into Zambia! Further, the high-income bracket of society often frequents the upmarket places such as shopping malls, restaurants and nightclubs that continue to fuel the epidemic. The youthful Zambian elite is notoriously uncompromising when it comes to consummating “leisure” even if this entails driving the entire country into a death trap. Yet the biggest losers of the pandemic will be the poor people without jobs and without proper access to health care. They will perish in great numbers!
The Socialist Party is drawing insights from the failure of the globalised capitalist system in managing the pandemic. It is also keenly following the success as well as the underling principles embedded in the national responses of the socialist countries. In coming up with our national response for Zambia, we are cognizant of the fact that there is no single solution that responds to the needs of all countries. The Socialist Party leadership is innovative, flexible and thinking outside the box:
1.     A total mobilisation of the masses of our people and all their national institutions will be the centrepiece of the response. We find ourselves at war with an invisible enemy. Any day lost to procrastination entails 100s of lives lost. We will immediately declare a month-long State of Emergency upon getting into power! This will enable us to effectively mobilise each adult Zambian and help put COVID- 19 on top of the political, social-cultural and economic agenda. The State of Emergency would greatly help the health system to catch up with contact tracing and slow down community level transmission.
2.     A war situation calls for exceptional decisions. We estimate to divert 10% of our entire GDP in order to provide effective health communication, institute mass testing, provide adequate medical supplies, medicines, PPEs, bed space, requisite equipment and an expanded workforce that will enable us halt transmission, provide quality care (including long term post-infection care and support) and therefore preserve thousands of Zambian lives.
3.     COVID-19 will not be the last global pandemic. We have to be prepared for more vicious pandemics in the years to come. Our routine surveillance system needs strengthening. Our response time and quality have to be exceptional. We need a highly health literate population. Pandemic management and the standard treatment guidelines need an interface and our poor capacities for multi-sectoral coordination should be a thing of the past.
4.     COVID-19 is a disaster for humanity, but it also exposes the pre-existing social and economic malaise in society: Job insecurity, vulnerabilities of small scale businesses, the negative consequences for frontline heath workers – who are poorly equipped, protected and remunerated, the increase in patriarchal violence (gender based violence) during the quarantine periods, and political discrimination of opposition political parties under the pretext of pandemic control measures. As a socialist party, our mandate is to these vulnerable groups in society. We have begun a process of consultation that will inform concrete policy and action and help the masses of our people to emancipate themselves from these forms of injustice and inequity as we face this global pandemic.
The Zambian people can and MUST rise up to the challenge posed by COVID-19. The neoliberal capitalist approaches in managing society and heath are a death sentence for the masses of our people. The immediate task of our masses is to vote out neoliberal capitalism from our homeland. The lumpen and petty bourgeois leadership has caused enough harm and is directly responsible for the senseless deaths through the pandemic. Voting them out of power has become synonymous to voting out COVID-19 from our lives.
 
Statement issued by
 
Dr. Cosmas Musheke Musumali
Socialist Party
General Secretary/First Vice President
Lusaka Industrial Area Office

President Lungu’s Copperbelt visit was a disaster

President Lungu’s Copperbelt visit was a disaster Featured

President Edgar Lungu’s working visit on the Copperbelt was a disaster in many ways.

This was the President’s first visit to the Copperbelt Province in 2021. The province has been a bastion of PF support over the past years. Being the first trip, it was planned to provide a good start for the President’s and his Party’s campaign towards the August 2021 elections.

However things have changed. The people of the Copperbelt need change. President Lungu and the PF are now becoming history. People were not willing to attend Presidents Lungu’s meetings. His ministers and cronies had to resort to bribes to mobilise a resemblance of presence and support. This effort didn’t work in Mufulira and it ended up being a huge embarrassment for President Lungu and the PF establishment.

As a Socialist Party we are today the fastest growing political power on the Copperbelt. Increasingly, more people see in us the alternative to the failed experimentation with neo-liberal capitalism that has sent thousands of workers jobless on the street and is today failing to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, the trip came at huge cost to the Zambian taxpayer. The entourage was big – involving hundreds of vehicles from Lusaka and the Copperbelt. Three choppers and the presidential Jet were also assigned. The defence and security deployment was massive. The habit of dishing out brown envelopes continued. Its is an extremely reckless way spending the taxpayers money at a time that millions of Zambian lives are at stake due to the pandemic and with a health system that is poorly resourced.

Thirdly, the trip also reminded us of the retrogressive role played by the Civil Aviation Authority and our Zambia Airforce. The two institutions have in the past been used to constrain political opposition leaders’ air travel during election campaigns. We are in January – still a distance from the official campaign period, but this form of rigging and intimidation has already begun! We are cognisant of the immense difficulties the two institutions work under. However short term political appeasement has eroded the confidence of the masses of our people in these two key national institutions. The Zambian people have to win back these two institutions; President Lungu and the PF must go! The damage they are causing is irreparable.

We need an efficient, effective and orderly military

We need an efficient, effective and orderly military Featured

The recent recruitment of officer cadets for the Zambia Army, Zambia Airforce and Zambia National Service raises many very serious concerns. Military recruitments and promotions are supposed to be very transparent, well advertised and fair. Military recruitments and promotions should be matters of great public interest.

There’s a current recruitment of 600 officer cadets – shared 200 each for the Zambia Army, Zambia Airforce and Zambia National Service.Over 64,000 applications were received for the 200 Zambia Army positions. Most of these positions have been taken by relatives of the country’s top politicians. And the best but not well-connected applicants have been turned away. They are being told they failed medical tests so that it becomes difficult for them to question their being left out.

We need to increase the number of officers being recruited and trained every year to sufficiently cater for deaths, retirements and the growth of our military. You build your army in peace times and not when you are under attack. We shouldn’t be cheated or cheat ourselves that we don’t need a big and strong military. It’s very highly needed not only for basic military purposes but also for economic and social development. We need to pay sufficient attention to the development and maintenance of our military. Even in the most peaceful of times, we will still need to develop and maintain our military to the highest possible levels of efficiency and effectiveness.

Of all of the forms of power that determine the level of power enjoyed by a country, none is more obvious than a country’s military power. For one, a country with a strong military typically enjoys a higher degree of security and stability than a state that is militarily weaker than its neighbours and potential rivals. Likewise, a country with an advantage in terms of military power has the ability to seize or reduce another state’s power in many other areas, including economic, political- or resource-based power.

For many states, it was the development of their military power that proved to be the catalyst for their rise to great power status. For others, a lack of military power proved to be the undoing of states that were either once great powers or who had capability to rise to great power status, but failed to do so. History is littered with states whose ultimate downfall came on the battlefield, even if it was a decline in other aspects of power that resulted in their eventual military defeat.

The great wars of the past few centuries have taught us that having strong and reliable allies is a major boost for a country’s military power and its odds in a conflict with rival powers. This calls for increased collaboration and exchanges with other militaries in terms of training and exercises. We need to increase our military’s training and exercises with other countries both for officers and soldiers. We used to have training and other exchanges with other militaries – UK, Ireland, India, Sweden, North Korea, Iraq, among others – that we are today not fully utilising. But to develop and maintain our military to good levels requires a supportive economy. Simply put, a country needs the economic means to afford the high costs and technological developments associated with the development and maintenance of a high degree of military power.

For now, a country needs a large and healthy population of young adult males and increasingly females to provide the manpower needed to sustain an efficient, effective and orderly military, although automation may one day make this a moot point. A country’s level of political strength and stability is reflected in the strength and stability of its armed forces, while a unified political leadership can provide a clear focus for a country’s military efforts.

A good educational system is also very much needed. Throughout history, states that have been able to develop technologies that add to their military capabilities have emerged victorious in conflicts against their less-technologically-developed rivals.Clearly, a country’s military power also plays a key role in its development of these other factors of power. A state that can protect its territory, resources and trade routes has a major economic advantage over others that are unable to do so. Furthermore, military power can be a catalyst for economic growth, if applied properly. A state with a relatively high degree of military power has the capability to protect its population and to allow for its population to grow at a healthy pace. A strong military allows a country to protect its environmental and resource wealth.

For better or worse, armed forces have played a major role in determining the level of political stability in states throughout history. When political-military relations are strong and stable, a country is able to achieve a higher degree of political power. The armed forces have been the catalyst and the source for many of the major technological achievements reached throughout human history and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Many states throughout history have used their advantages in terms of military power to achieve great power status.

But we shouldn’t be irrational in the development and maintenance of our military. We shouldn’t forget that while some great powers built their foundations on military power, other great powers were undermined by this same power. Some states focused too many resources on their militaries, thus undermining other aspects of their power. Examples of this include the latter Roman Empire, 16th-17th century Spain, and, more recently, the Soviet Union itself. Other great powers failed to invest enough in their armed forces, and thus undermined their ability to fend off rival powers. For example, the Byzantine Empire’s military weakness allowed for the Arabs to seize most of its territory in the 7th century, while China’s military decline opened the door for the Mongols to seize control of China in the 13th century. In more modern times, France’s inability to match German military power cost that country its leadership position in continental Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This is why the Socialist Party in its manifesto states, among other things: “Defence is too great an assignment to leave in the hands of an ill-equipped army with an inappropriate doctrine. In order to enhance military capacity, we will undertake a review to assess the emerging threats confronting the Zambian masses, including hybrid and cyber warfare. We will; (i) ensure that our armed forces are properly equipped and resourced to respond to wide-ranging security challenges; (ii) the Socialist Government will commit to effective UN peacekeeping, especially within the context of Pan African peace-keeping missions; (iii) commit to a procurement process that supports job creation and the growth of the Zambian defence manufacturing industry…”

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

Garden Compound, Lusaka

In defence of my friend and all those who preach the good news

In defence of my friend and all those who preach the good news Featured

Of late retired Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu has come under a lot of attacks from leaders, cadres and supporters of those in power.
I must point out from the outset that I don’t like Archbishop Mpundu – I love him. He is an exceptionally very intelligent, humble, honest and religious man. Material possessions, luxuries don’t move him. He’s incorruptible.
But why is this nice friend of mine so hated by these people? My own and only explanation is that genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum.

Preaching is increasingly getting a lot tougher. Today even words like kindness
seem to have political implications.
Should our preachers and their congregations seek to transcend politics or is that an impossible or even illegitimate goal? Is there a difference between being political and being partisan?

Preaching is being complicated by the fact that politics has now come to mean any contemporary issue on which people might disagree. In times such as these, the preacher’s task is to remind the congregation that the basic tenets of our faith – grace and mercy, radical hospitality, love of neighbor – go beyond politics but have political implications.
Can we call our preachers and their congregations call themselves followers of the Prince of Peace and not condemn injustice, intolerance, violence and corruption born of bigotry, hate and greed? Likewise, I don’t see how they can read the story of Jesus welcoming the children and not have something to say about the children suffering on our streets, not going school, not accessing healthcare and food.

In these polarizing times, it’s easy to vilify our preachers and their congregations. Good preaching in divisive times reminds people of the importance of nuance. It also reminds news-weary preachers that their faith claims mean something about how they live in a country in which being a good person is directly connected to our political systems and structures.

My prayer is that even as we disagree, we’ll stay true to the gospel call to welcome and to love.
One might expect the obligatory nod to the challenge of of preachers preaching in our polarized climate – except for the fact that their congregations are comfortably partisan and have been engines of polarization, not some lingering holdout against it.

We don’t want to avoid being predictably partisan by falling prey to the illusion that the gospel is politically “neutral.” If some partisan stands align with biblical concerns for justice, we shouldn’t soft-pedal biblical themes just to avoid appearing partisan. Here’s a way the lectionary is a gift.

These biblical themes confront us. Preaching isn’t dictated by the pet priorities of a party but by the worldwide curriculum of the body of Christ at worship. And some days, by grace, that Word will come as a challenge to our own preferences.

Nor does the unique “politics of Jesus” give us license to sequester ourselves in alternative communities. Policy is how we love our neighbors, and purity doesn’t release us from the Great Commandment. The illusion of being nonpolitical is a luxury of privilege that only leaves the vulnerable exposed.

The problem with the Christian political imagination today is not simply that it is predictably partisan but that it has ceded its elasticity and expectation to the here-and-now. We are all functional utopians who overexpect from the present and underexpect God’s sovereign grace. But the kingdom of God is something we await, not create. And while we hope for policy that bends the systems of society toward justice, we won’t legislate our way to the Parousia.

We need to recover a wide-eyed Augustinian realism to counter cultural Pelagianism. Our utopianism is nourished by an overconfidence in our own powers and a blinding self-righteousness, coupled with a generic belief in the goodness of human nature (at least our human nature). The result is a political outlook that does not expect—or know what to do with—disagreement and disappointment, charging ahead with the frightening scowl of someone with good intentions.

Whenever we deploy words, especially in the service of God, we are acting politically. There is no such thing as nonpolitical language, especially when that language is bold to assert itself theologically, homiletically, or ecclesiologically. The church is a praying, singing, preaching, witnessing body. We witness to the in-breaking of God’s reign of love, justice, beauty, and abundance in time and space. We lament brokenness, evil, and violence. We proclaim that these dastardly realities are ending even as we groan and press toward God’s redemption of humanity and all of creation. Our prayers, songs, sermons, and testimonies are acts of political speech.
Servants of the church who claim that they are not political are indeed political. However, they are often servants of a politics contrary to a Christian understanding of God’s reign.

Our speech is political because it is the speech of God’s new creation. The church’s language is not spectator language. It does work, and it has work to do. The church’s language has the ambitious agenda of making all things new. And that is political.

The goal of a preacher should never to be nonpolitical. They bear witness through language and action that the God they serve is the author of the politics of abundance. There is more than enough of the physical, economic, and spiritual requirements for human flourishing in this nation and the world.
We cannot transcend politics. The gospel is a word that was used to declare the birth of a new emperor. Our speech heralds a new ruler, one hated by the Caesars and Herods who continue to kill innocents and crucify dissidents in an attempt to hold onto their power and thwart God’s reign.

Our preachers must be bold to advocate the politics of God’s realm in the church and outside of the church. We can afford good, free and socialised education because God requires it. We can afford good, free and socialised healthcare because God requires it.

We can pay a living wage because God requires it. The church has often abandoned these politics for access and power. Like Jesus they shouldn’t fear to live and to die for the politics of God’s reign. If these politics do not animate their prayers, songs, sermons, and testimonies, their speech is reduced to sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.

Their faith stands in judgment of our nation’s political leaders – of whatever ideological stripe – when they fail to uphold the values implicit in the gospel demands for justice. But our preachers should always view criticism of their preachings as an invitation for deeper dialogue and relationship, rooted in the divine gift of unity that binds us together as followers of Jesus. If we don’t talk about politics in the church setting, they are giving their congregants permission to compartmentalize their lives. Jesus Christ is Lord of all of life, including our political life, and that includes the decisions we make in the voting booth.

Fred M’membe
Garden Compound, Lusaka

Fire all corrupt ministers and permanent secretaries now!

Fire all corrupt ministers and permanent secretaries now! Featured

If President Edgar Lungu really wants to prove he is serious about tackling corruption, he must fire all ministers, permanent secretaries and other public officials involved in corruption and financial malfeasance, and fast track their prosecutions.
Cabinet ministers and all public representatives whose departments are implicated in acts of corruption and wasteful expenditure must be fired.
Mr Lungu must show decisive leadership and genuine commitment to addressing the corruption, maladministration and incompetence that is stifling the performance of his government by firing ministers who are in breach of their oath of office.
Dismissing Dr Chitalu Chilufya from his post as Minister of Health is a positive thing, but it is not enough.
Mr Lungu must now turn his attention to other corrupt ministers and other public officials who have betrayed their mandate to serve Zambians.
Throughout his presidency Mr Lungu has always, shielded his appointees by turning a blind eye to their infractions.
Money looted from government has cost individuals, families and communities dearly and has affected service delivery in some of Zambia’s poorest areas.
The mass anarchy that has come to characterise his government must end, millions of our people’s lives and jobs depend upon it.
And there’s need for expeditious criminal prosecution of all the culprits.
If Mr Lungu was serious about fighting corruption he must act now by closing the loopholes in the state tender system.

Fred M’membe

Garden Compound, Lusaka