Category: Opinions

Honouring the life of Julia Chikamoneka (1910 — 20 March 1986)

Honouring the life of Julia Chikamoneka (1910 — 20 March 1986)

As we end the women’s month, the Socialist Party (SP) celebrates Mama Julia Chikamoneka’s life by recognising her tireless efforts to rally women (at the time of colonisation) to struggle for a common good of our country – to end colonialism. Zambia’s history is incomplete without the inclusion of the relentless and fearless revolutionary efforts displayed by cde Julia in the struggle for our independence.

The SP Women’s League draws inspiration from the revolutionary spirit of this comrade and the values she upheld. She understood clearly the dehumanising conditions under colonialism; how the colonial system marginalised and treated our men and women as second class citizens; and how such a system was not designed for women at all.

Cde Julia embodied ideas and values that were critical to the formation of the United Nations Independence Party (UNIP), and to the ‘freedom’ that we enjoy today. Notable, she spearheaded a Women’s Brigade that formed the first black women-led political party, the African National Independence Party (ANIP), which quickly evolved into the UNIP of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. Her home is said to have housed a number of our nationalist leaders like Mr. Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula. Cde Julia’s activism included mobilising, organising protests and boycotts across the country, as well as raising funds to support the liberation struggle efforts, and towards the imprisoned comrades. This is a rich political history of our women’s movement that should never be erased, forgotten or swept under our carpets.

Yet, despite the relentless efforts of our now fallen Sheros, the over 55 years of our independence have not reflected a country that is making big strides towards a more just, fair and gender inclusive society. By constitution, our men and women have equal rights to own land. Of the 90 percent of land owned under customary law, ownership is inherited by men, while women can only access it, use it, but not own it. Whilst 78 percent of women are engaged in agriculture, their labour does not necessarily lead to cash income, but to supporting their families.

Today, our country mirrors deep poverty, desperation, inequalities, suffering, and glaring disparities, especially as it relates to women. We truly cannot move forward as a country under these conditions. Advancing women’s liberation and ending their oppression should be a constant struggle for us all that will in the short and long term secure a common good for our country. During hard times like these, it is the revolutionary spirit of comrades like Julia that should inspire us to join the political space and struggle collectively to end the oppression of women, and their marginalisation.

Her life history should inspire us to put service for others above self. Hers was not a life masked by individualism, selfishness or a self-centred ‘me, me, me syndrome’. She was moved by injustice, by pain, by anguish, and the suffering of others. But most of all, she was moved to do something about it. If she and her comrades had exhibited elements of individualism, selfishness, it would be fair to conclude that our liberation story would have taken a different trajectory, but they did not. These comrades understood that they were in a real struggle, they agitated, mobilised, pulled resources together, showed solidarity, putting the country and the broader society first before their lndividual needs. They understood that their very continued existence and freedoms would be determined by how much they struggle for a liberated Zambia.

Indeed, her life history is one that calls for all well-meaning Zambians to take a step back, to reflect and gaze back to history for inspiration, and to draw lessons in order to address our immense challenges, and the dire state of our women.

Today, we are faced with a complex COVID-19 that has now been declared a global pandemic. The uncertainty surrounding this virus is causing a lot of social anxiety and panic among our people. The measures to thoroughly address the pandemic will require a focused leadership that puts the interest of the people first. It calls for bold leadership devoid of corruption, one that is selfless and promotes a unity of purpose among its citizens. Individual women and women groups should mobilise in varying and dynamic ways to support the proposed government measures in their different spaces in order to minimise a further escalation of the pandemic.

As we honour cde Julia, we ask: What would she have done to address Zambia’s current crises, and the patriarchal system in our society that do not work in favour of our women? What is it that we can do as individuals and as a collective to address the challenges that we face politically, socially, economically, culturally, and otherwise?

Cde Julia would not have taken a back seat to watch the country plunge into today’s unprecedented corruption, poor governance, extreme hunger, poverty and a lack of tolerance of divergent views. She knew that mobilising and rallying women and men to struggle for a better Zambia was truly important to end the suffering, anguish, poverty, humiliation and pain that people faced.

Women (working in collectives, as well as with men) should truly come to an understanding that Zambia will only be a country we want, a country we deserve and desire for our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren if we only, and when we collectively and selflessly work together for our common good.

Turning a blind eye on the growing injustice, inequalities and gender-based violence, oppression, class differences, and patriarchy promoted by both men and women only undermines the struggle of our foremothers. It points us to our failure to stand in solidarity with one another, and our women of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Ours is an urgent need to draw inspiration from our Sheros and Heros to build a Zambia that is truly free, one that advances women’s rights not only during the month of March, but always. As the President of the Socialist Party, Dr Fred M’membe has noted: “What we can’t do for ourselves, nobody can do for us”.

Long live the true, indomitable revolutionary spirit of comrade Julia Chikamoneka.

Socialist Party Women’s League Team.

Statement of the Socialist Party on the coronavirus spread

Statement of the Socialist Party on the coronavirus spread

We would like to begin by acknowledging and commending the government’s good response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Though the pandemic is in its early days and we are taking what seems to be the right measures, there should be no room for complacency.
We should hope for the best but prepare immediately for the worst.
From what we are witnessing in Italy, our very limited facilities and resources could quickly be overwhelmed by the virus’ spread.
Italy, which is far from having the coronavirus crisis under control, has just passed China in total deaths, even though China has 25 times its population. Italy is the hell the United States and United Kingdom may be facing in two to three weeks.
The situation can adversely change very quickly if the virus gets to Kwa where our people are living in very crowded conditions.
In these areas where there’s also poor supply of clean water and unacceptable sanitation services, transmission of the virus can be very fast.
Today our country has more than 1.2 million people living with HIV and most of these live in Kwa. And some of these are suffering from tuberculosis. This makes them more vulnerable to the virus.
Quarantining people in crowded Kwa areas may not be easy.
Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from coronavirus illness. 
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease.
And as the Minister of Health, Dr Chitalu Chilufya, has explained, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
We urge all our people to follow the Ministry of Health guides and take steps to protect themselves.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Take steps to protect others.
Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
Please, please take the instructions or advice of the Ministry of Health very, very seriously.
The impact of this virus on our economy can already be seen. Let’s brace ourselves for very difficult times ahead.

Issued by Fred M’membe on behalf of the Politburo of the Socialist Party

March 20, 2020

Garden Compound, Lusaka

Sanctions on Prime TV cruel and unjust,but not accidental – Dr Fred M’membe.

Sanctions on Prime TV cruel and unjust,but not accidental – Dr Fred M’membe.

Statement by Dr Fred M’membe, press freedom hero of the United Nations affiliated International Press Institute and president of the Socialist Party on the government’s sanctions against Prime TV

What is happening to Prime TV is very, very sad.
The cruel sanctions imposed by the government on Prime TV for refusing to give free advertising space to its coronavirus campaign are unjustified.
Prime TV is not alone in this decision. This was a collective decision of ZIBA. Gerald Shawa, the proprietor of Prime TV spoke as chairman of ZIBA to deliver a collective decision.
Moreover, why should the independent media be forced to offer the government free advertising space when the same government is spending money elsewhere and not getting free services. It’s paying for drugs, sanitisers and other materials and services required to fight the coronavirus. And what has this government done for the independent media to deserve a free service from it?
But the singling out and targeting of Prime TV for victimisation is not accidental. It is part of a consistent campaign to discredit and destroy this television station. Why? It’s because of its independence, its refusal to be compromised.
Media freedom has been deteriorating in Zambia over the past six years.
This government has overseen concerted attempts to throttle the independence of the media sector in this country.
While the threats to media freedom in this country are real and concerning in their own right, their impact on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous.
Experience has shown, however, that media freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished.
The fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent media is under attack, and part of the assault has come from unexpected individuals – people we thought were better placed to understand and defend media freedom.
It’s sad that people who should be media freedom’s staunchest defenders, are making explicit attempts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that serve up favourable coverage. The trend is linked to a national decline in democracy itself: the erosion of media freedom is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles, a fact that makes it especially alarming.
Today a large segment of our population is no longer receiving unbiased news and information. This is because the media has fallen prey to more nuanced efforts to throttle its independence.
The independent media is in all sorts of ways being put under a lot of financial pressure. And we are so often witnessing public denunciations of honest journalists. The government has also offered proactive support to friendly news media outlets through measures such as lucrative state business, favourable regulatory decisions, and preferential access to state information and news. The goal is to make the media serve those in power rather than the public.
It has become painfully apparent that a free media can never be taken for granted, even when people with some media background are in power.
This government has had great success in snuffing out critical journalism.
This breakdown of media freedom in our country is closely related to the broader decline of democracy.
Although the media is not always the first institution to be attacked when a country’s leadership takes an antidemocratic turn, repression of free media is a strong indication that other political rights and civil liberties are in danger.
These assaults on media independence are closely associated with power grabs by incumbent leaders, with attempts to crush perceived threats to their control.
A free and independent media sector that can keep the population informed and hold leaders to account is as crucial for a strong and sustainable democracy as free and fair elections. Without it, citizens cannot make informed decisions about how they are ruled, and abuse of power, which is all but inevitable in any society, cannot be exposed and corrected.
There is an obvious tension between journalists who are attempting to perform their proper democratic function and antidemocratic politicians that are determined to retain power. The innovative and courageous work of Prime TV and other independent news media outlets offers hope that even in the most desperate circumstances, those who are committed to distributing information in the public interest can find a way. But these journalists alone cannot address the needs of millions of Zambians who still have access to little more than their government’s narrative and must rely on their own instincts and observations to assess the claims of corrupt and abusive leaders.
We have an individual and collective duty to ensure
that the actions of this government do not excuse or inspire violations of press freedom. We all have an individual and collective important role to play in maintaining media freedom.
Our words matter, and when we fail to swiftly and vigorously condemn acts of repression such as these attacks of Prime TV, we send a signal to our undemocratic leaders that assaults on the media and crimes against journalists are permissible.
Take strong and immediate action against any violations of media freedom through press statements, phone calls, meetings, letters, and the withdrawal of support and votes from perpetrators.
Stand up publicly for the value of a free media.
We could easily forget this amid media mudslinging and incendiary commentary. Politicians and other leaders should reiterate the extent to which we all benefit from professional journalists who hold those in power to account.

It’s March! Honouring the working women across the world – Socialist Party Women’s league.

It’s March! Honouring the working women across the world – Socialist Party Women’s league.

In a few days, the world over will gather to celebrate and honour the memory of women through various activities.

The effort to recognise and honour women is not a new phenomenon. It traces as far back as the 1900s from socialist inspired movements across the globe. On February 28, 1909, the Socialist Party of America organised a Women’s Day in New York City, and the following year in August 1910 in Copenhagen, the International Socialist Women’s Conference declared 8 March as an annual commemoration in memory of working women. Since then, March 8 has constituted a significant day in the socialist movement calendar to celebrate and honour the working women of the world. Celebrated victories may also be traced from the women’s suffrage of 1917 in Russia, the 1920 women’s suffrage in the United States, and to the rise of the movement for women’s liberation of the 1960s. From the mid to end of the 1960s, the feminist movement, and consequently the United Nations in 1975 adopted March 8 as the International Women’s Day.

Despite the victories and advances to push for women’s rights, what has, however, been evident is the growing class divide, increasing oppression and challenges experienced by women. Globally, and on the African continent, the condition of a number of women remain largely unchanged. For example, the rising gender-based violence in Zambia points us to the root of women’s oppression as largely embedded in their nuclear families, and in their biological roles as producers. This has resulted in their oppression and unnatural subordination roles within the home space, and at societal level. In the second quarter of 2019, the Zambian police recorded 6,139 gender-based violence cases country wide. Of the 583 child defilement cases reported, 573 were against girls.

Thomas Sankara once noted: “There is no true revolution without the liberation of women.” To address the struggles of the working class, the Socialist Party (SP) has at its fore revolutionary programmes seeking to advance the liberation of women. The party promotes values of Justice, Equity and Peace (JEP) as key to uplifting Zambian women, and to extending a hand of solidarity to the working women across the world.

The SP has identified literacy programmes as one of the many ways to begin to uplift the Zambian women. The United Nations data notes illiteracy as more glaring among women than men. In Zambia, almost a quarter of women (about 25.7 per cent) reached secondary school in 2015.

Through the Fred M’membe Literacy programme, the party is advancing knowledge and political education that targets both urban and rural women. The literacy programme – hailed as one of Party’s critical and detailed programme – points to the history of class struggles, to women’s struggles, to the present day conditions of the working class, and ways to truly, and collectively struggle for a better Zambia.

In the days to come, the Socialist Party will join the rest of the world to commemorate the International Women’s Day. The Socialist Women’s League has lined up activities across the country to celebrate and honour the memory of the working women. Leon Trotsky once said: “In order to change the conditions of life; we must learn to see them through the eyes of women.”

Issued by the Socialist Women’s League Team. 1 March 2020.

Nsingu Day commemoration speech by the President of the Socialist party, Dr Fred M’membe.

Nsingu Day commemoration speech by the President of the Socialist party, Dr Fred M’membe.

Our integration into the capitalist system was not a peaceful one.

Six years after the 1884-5 Berlin Conference where the major European nations of that time shared Africa among themselves, this territory, now called Zambia, was colonised – in 1891.

The first coloniser of this territory was not a country or government. It was a capitalist businessman – Cecil John Rhodes – and his corporation, British South African Company.

Rhodes ruled this territory for 33 years. In 1924 Rhodes handed over this country to the British Foreign Office so that he could concentrate more on his businesses.

What was Rhodes looking for here? What brought him here? Minerals! Rhodes was looking for minerals and in pursuit of those minerals he was ready to kill and indeed he killed many people. Rhodes was also looking for arable land, and in pursuit of that natural resource, he killed.

Rhodes’ strategy was simple: he would send his agents to seek concessions from our chiefs to prospect and mine minerals in their chiefdoms. If they refused, he set his army on them. Rhodes had a big army in Kota Kota, in Malawi comprising of Sikhs and Africans and armed with Maxim-guns and Seven-pounders.

Did our people surrender and let Rhodes take their land and minerals as he wished? No. Our people resisted this capitalist intrusion. And the highest resistance of our people came from the Ngoni of the Cipeta area under Mpezeni.

Rhodes believed there was gold in that area because south of the Cipeta in what is now Zimbabwe he had found gold. He sent his agents to start prospecting for gold in the Cipeta area. This created a dispute. The Ngonis insisted Rhodes had no right to prospect for minerals in their territory without their consent. But Rhodes’ agents insisted that this was his land and not Mpezeni’s. The Ngonis realised that this conflict was not going to end peacefully. And they were really worried about the possibility of a war. Mpezeni, who was already an old man, knew very well that Rhodes had a well-equipped army in Kota Kota. Although the Ngonis had acquired some guns through trade, these were no match for the Maxim-guns and Seven-pounders of Rhodes’ army. Moreover, the ammunition and gun powder had to come from the same people they were fighting! So those guns became useless. They had to rely on the asegai to defend themselves if attacked.

This troubled Mpezeni and other senior Ngonis. But while they were pondering over what to do, Mpzeni’s son, Nsingu, made it very clear: over dead bodies will Rhodes and his companies take over our land and our minerals. And he started mobilising an army of young Ngonis. He managed to assemble an army of 10,000 young Ngonis armed with the asegai.

True to the fears of the Ngonis, in December 1897 Rhodes’ forces from Kota Kota attacked the Cipeta.

It was a very difficult war for the Ngonis. Rhodes’ soldiers were burning Ngoni villages, destroying their crops and killing anyone in sight. The asegai was indeed no match for the Maxim-guns and Seven-pounders. The casualty rate was rising by the day among the Ngonis while their morale was dipping by the day.

On February 4, 1898 the Ngoni capital was overrun and commander of the Ngoni forces, Nsingu, was captured and tried by court-martial, found guilty and was executed at dawn the following day – February 5 – in front of his lieutenants.

His father, the aged Mpezeni, who had fled into the hills around Feni was captured and put in prison.

When he was released Mpezeni did not live long; he died of depression.

At the end of this war in February 1898, the Ngonis had a head of over 12,000 cattle. This was a lot of wealth in 1898. And with that type of wealth the Ngonis could have built themselves many schools, hospitals and other infrastructure needed for development. All they needed was to increase trade.

But two years later, in 1900, only 1,250 cattle remained – over 10,750 Ngoni cattle had been looted by Rhodes and his companies, completely destroying the Ngoni economy and holding back their development.

As if this was not enough, in 1904, Rhodes took over, by force, the Ngoni village of Kapatamoyo and turned it into Fort Jameson which became Rhodes’ headquarters for the colonisation of North Eastern Rhodesia.

Although the Ngoni resistance was the highest, it was not the only one. Up north the Bemba people were resisting. Chitimukulu Sampa made it very clear to all his people that European capitalist traders and missionaries were not allowed in his territory. And for ten years they were kept out. They started sending him all sorts of gifts to ‘soften’ him. But he saw them for what they were – bribes – and rejected everything. Unfortunately, Chitimukulu Sampa did not live long, he died early. And his death marked the end of the Bemba resistance.

Our people in Luapula also resisted. But their resistance weakened after the defeat of the Ngonis and the Bembas. The white missionaries who were inserted among them started to put them under a lot of pressure to give in. They would tell them: these people you are resisting have defeated the Ngonis and the Bembas you fear so much, just start dealing with them. Eventually our people in Luapula gave in.

There was very little resistance among the Lozis in the western part of our country because of the prevailing circumstances. Lewanika, who was then the Litunga, had just come back on the throne after having been overthrown by his brother Akufuna. This meant that the Lozis were internally weakened. And externally, they were under serious threats from the Portuguese on the west and the Lobengula raids on the south. In this context of internal and external threats to Lewanika’s hold on power, Rhodes successfully deceived the Litunga that he would be accorded full British protection complete with police officers and a monthly pay if he signed away vast areas of land, full of mineral wealth, in exchange for support. That is how the western part of our territory which, at the time, included parts of the present-day Copperbelt, Southern and North-western provinces was brought under Rhodes’ control.

Clearly, our people resisted capitalist plunder and subjugation. But this resistance of our people is not taught to us. We are not taught about Commander Nsingu and the Ngoni resistance. Yet this is the most important history of our people and our country.

We are not trying to promote Ngoni nationalism. We are simply recognising and identifying with the most important, glorious and progressive history of our country. And there are huge lessons to learn from all this.

The first is that we are heirs to a heroic and courageous people, a people that fought so hard and valiantly against the foreign occupation of our homeland; a people that refused to dishonour the cause of freedom even when confronted with a formidable adversary. Our forefathers, led by Commander Nsingu, resisted the conquest of Zambia and the cheap commodification of their lives.

We are the descendants of these martyrs and first independence nationalists who never betrayed our homeland and who, in defence of it, perished. To honour their sacrifices and memory, we must fight to reclaim our country from the modern day Cecil Rhodes and corporations in the form of British South African Company.

The second is that we are an agricultural people. We fed ourselves and kept considerable wealth in the form of cattle. This has been our way of life, one that was totally ruined by that bandit, Rhodes, who, like those who came after him in 1924, made sure that we started producing what we do not consume and consumed what we did not produce.

That is how they dislocated agriculture. Presidents Kaunda and Mwanawasa tried to reverse this, but we have since reneged on their efforts. Today, agriculture is the most neglected sector of our country. That is why we in the Socialist Party are prioritising agriculture because we know that it is essential to food security, that we can feed ourselves even in times of drought if we become a country that works and plans like a functioning state.

Any government that does not invest in agriculture, in our way of life, is not different from Rhodes and his killers.

The third is the need to stand up and protect our natural wealth such as minerals and land from ruthless capitalist exploitation. Rhodes and his bandits came here to loot our wealth. We must never make the mistake of thinking that there are no Cecil Rhodes today in our midst. They are there – huge corporations that are acting in collaboration with our shortsighted and perverted leaders to empty our homeland of its minerals, its natural forests – especially mukula – and to lease vast tracks of our precious and most arable land away to corporations and outsiders.

Without land, one is not a citizen of this country; they are just a tenant. We are discovering new sites of mineral wealth for extraction largely for the benefit of today’s Cecil Rhodes and BSA companies. We are busy handing over to the coloniser the very things that ground us – our natural wealth, our inheritance, our dignity. This must change.

But such a turnaround would require leadership, an enlightened and heroic leadership that, through effective policies, has the capacity and brainpower to unleash the exploitation of our God-given natural wealth for collective good, for public, not private, gain. That is the kind of leadership that we in the Socialist Party bring to Zambia. We will, with your support, reclaim our homeland from the unthinking lot and the corporations.

The fourth lesson is that we will never go far enough as a country if we do not prioritise the welfare our young people and permanently miss the opportunity to invest fully in their full development. At the heart of Commander Nsingo’s brigade were legions of young people. They were the shield that made up much of the 10, 000 warriors. But those young people were looked after very well; they were healthy and enjoyed the full benefit of a leadership that promoted meritocracy. They were even incorporated in key leadership positions and structures of decision-making. And because the society took care of them, because it invested in their growth, prosperity and happiness, they needed no additional prompting when the moment demanded that they stand up in defence for their homeland. They understood that they were, in effect, not simply defending their sovereignty but also their continued access to healthy life and decent standard of living.

Today, nearly 80 per cent of our homeland comprises young people, yet this is the most neglected segment of our population. They are the most capable and daring amongst ourselves, yet we have for years continued to devise policies that marginalise them, that reduces their many talents to waste, that condemns them to a lifetime of unemployment, illiteracy, disease, hunger and misery, that excludes them from key positions and responsibilities of power – in short, policies that do not seek to identity the different categories of young people and their unique needs before devising appropriate measures that guarantee them longevity and healthy life, access to knowledge and decent standard of living. This must change.

We must invest in the total development and welfare of young people – our national brigade.

That way, we will honour the memory and sacrifice of Commander Nsingo, our greatest youth and national hero.

It is not easy to sum up in a few words all the importance, the richness, the vast significance of today’s humble event.

Today we pay special tribute to Commander Nsingu and the not less than 10,000 young Ngoni warriors who died in the Cipeta area between December 1897 and the 5th of February 1898 defending our land, our minerals and our dignity. Our people admire heroism.

Today it is exactly 122 years since Commander Nsingu was executed at dawn and in front of his lieutenants by Cecil John Rhodes’ forces.

Rather than being forgotten with the passing of the years, his name, his exemplary life, his selflessness, and his heroism is remembered by us today. We see him live again, we note his presence in the work of the Socialist Party: above all he remains alive in our consciousness and hearts.

On days such as this we remember more than those who died fighting alongside Commander Nsingu; we remember all those who gave their lives for our country.

This celebration is like a synthesis of our people’s glorious history, a history written with great sacrifices and the loss of many valuable lives and much blood.

And one day we will erect a monument to the memory of Commander Nsingu and those young heroic warriors. But the most important monument we can erect in their honour is to give expression to the humane values that they lived and defended to the death.

That was a glorious page in the history of our homeland and it can be said that those men were the precursors of our struggles against capitalism and its colonialism.

Eternal glory to Commander Nsingu and to all the heroes who died in the war against Cecil Rhodes’ capitalist plunder and subjugation and to all the men and women who have dedicated their lives to our homeland

Nsingu lives in us!