Category: Opinions

Matero is the place where struggles are born and won! Dr Fred M’membe

Matero is the place where struggles are born and won! Dr Fred M’membe

Moni aMatero! Mulibwanji!

Greetings to you all! We appreciate your attendance at this rally.

It is wonderful to be in Matero – a place known for many things!

Matero was headquarters, cimake, for our country’s independence struggle.

Coming to Matero therefore feels like we are here for political blessings, for the revival of our political values, principles and revolutionary spirit; for the renewal of our political ideas.

This is much more so because political ideas are worthless if they are not inspired by noble, selfless sentiments. Likewise, noble sentiments are worthless if they are not based on correct, just, fair and humane ideas.

New ideas are urgently needed to get ourselves out the current despair and suffering; a new awareness is needed to prepare ourselves for the future that today looks so sombre.

A very complex era like the one we are in today requires strong principles, malamulo, than ever. It requires more strong values. It requires more broadmindedness. It requires listening to every one, kuika nzelu pamodzi, without thinking that we are the owners of the absolute knowledge and truth.

To get ourselves out of this misery will require the work of many of us, thousands of cadres and leaders. It can never be the work of a single person no matter how talented, no matter how intelligent, no matter how knowledgeable or meritorious one may be.

However, it is a sacred duty for each one of us to do that, which can be done within our individual reach to put our country on a brighter path.

We have to everyday meditate on the future of our country, truthfully delve deeply into it; to help build a more just, more fair and more humane Zambia for our children and our children’s children.

Revolutionaries and all other selfless people work for the future. Revolutionaries have always worked, struggled for the future.

But the future is not built in the future; it is built on the threshold of what we do today. By coming here to Matero today to share ideas, to mobilise for revolutionary change in our country, to recharge our revolutionary batteries, we are contributing to the building of a future nation that will be more just, more fair and more humane.

Dear comrades and fellow citizens, why must we continue to endure hunger, unemployment, early death from curable diseases, ignorance and all sorts of human and social afflictions 55 years after attainment of independence?

Why should a tiny minority continue to access better education, health, housing, water and sanitation while the biggest majority don’t?

Why should so many Zambians go to sleep on empty stomachs while the rich people throw away food?

New ideas are needed that can make it possible for the masses of our people to get out of this poverty and avoid this impending armageddon.

It is not possible to build a more just, more fair and more humane society – a socialist society – without paying attention to the values of honesty, equity, humility and solidarity.

If you are honesty, truly honesty with yourself and with others, you cannot be corrupted, you cannot steal and you cannot humiliate others – teti mulesebanya abanenu.

It is not possible to build a more just, more fair and more humane society without equity. There can’t be socialism without equity. And here we are talking about equity in terms of access to education, health services, housing, food, clean water, sanitation and all the services required in an organised society.

To be discriminated against, to count for nothing is a very painful thing in life. Some of us who were brought up by people who were not our biological parents know very well how painful it is not to be treated in an equal way. The people who brought us up might have been very generous human beings. But they might not have treated us in an equal manner with their biological children.

They might have taken their biological children to better schools, gave them money for transport and lunch, bought them new clothes while we had none of that. How did we feel?

Today we live in a country that is divided into two nations – not on tribal basis but on class. We have the Ku and Kwa nations, the haves and the don’t haves, the rich and the poor.

The well-to-do live Ku and there they have no problems with water, sanitation, schools, health services, food, jobs, housing, roads. Everything there is plenty and nice – vonse vili mbwe mbwe mbwe.

Even their churches are very nice compared to those in Kwa.

Those in the Kwa nation have to endure poor housing, water supply, sanitation, education and health services, roads, nutrition and joblessness.

Even families have been split. Those who live in Ku don’t usually associate with their relatives in Kwa. They only deal with those, who like them, live in Ku.

If you are born in Kwa your chances of marrying someone from Ku are near to zero. Where are you going to meet someone from Ku to marry? You go to different schools, churches and hospitals! Even when you are in the same hospital, you are in different sections of the same hospital – low cost and high cost. You shop in different places! On a Saturday like today you go to different places for entertainment, to drink and dance!

If you are born in Kwa your chances of moving to Ku are near to zero.

There was a time, once upon a time, when it was very possible to move from Kwa to Ku. All you needed was to work hard in school and go to college or university. After that you got a well paying job to enable you live in Ku.

Today hard work in school doesn’t guarantee you living in Ku. You can pass your exams with flying colours but still fail to go far in your education because of having no money for fees.

I was among the first children of this country to start school after independence. Those who started school before independence had to pay. For us it was all free. We were given free uniforms, books, pensils, crayons and all the other materials we needed. We did not only go to school to learn but also to eat. We were fed at school. We were given milk and milk biscuits at school.

We were very happy children. When our president, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, came to our district we knew that there was no school on that day. We didn’t need the teachers to tell us there was no school. We went home washed our uniforms, pressed or ironed them well. We went to the airport or aerodrome early in the morning to welcome our president. When Dr Kaunda’s plane landed and he was waving his white handkerchief, we waved back vigorously.
You felt as if it was you alone he was waving at.
You felt very happy and proud of being Zambian.

We loved our leaders because we felt that they also loved us. Indeed they loved us, they cared about us. They gave us a better life.

For all their deficiencies, inadequacies and shortcomings we cannot accuse them of not caring.

When we went to secondary school it was a paradise. Most of the secondary schools in those days were boarding schools. We slept in nice dormitories, on nice beds which most of us didn’t even have at home. We had very clean toilets, clean showers. We ate in nice dining halls. We had good classrooms and very good teachers.

Above all that, we went to school with the children of our leaders. Dr Kaunda’s children slept in the same dormitories with the children of humble workers and peasants.

Can your children today go to the same schools with the children or grandchildren of your presidents, your ministers?

What did that do to us, the children of the humble workers and peasants? It gave us a lot of confidence, our self-esteem increased. And we started doing better than the children of our leaders.

The year I finished secondary school, 1976, the best student the whole country in the Cambridge ‘O’ Levels we used to write those days, was my classmate – Charles Malata – at St Francis Secondary School, P.O Box 49, Malole, Kasama, Northern Province. He was son of a humble mineworker from Luanshya.

We came to the University of Zambia with Charles where he pursued medical studies. Later on he got a scholarship to do his PhD in England. Today Charles is Professor Mister Charles Malata. He is one of the top ten best plastic surgeons in the UK. A son of a humble mineworker from Luanshya! Can a son of a humble mineworker from Luanshya achieve that today? The chances of achieving that are near to zero.

That is what equity in terms of access to education can do!

In that same year the best student in geography the whole Commonwealth, the whole world was a small boy from Kalabo Secondary School in Western Province near the border with Angola. His name was Cosmas Musheke Musumali.

We came to the University of Zambia with Cosmas. After second year he got a scholarship to go to West Germany to study economics. He did his bachelor’s degree, masters degree and PhD in economics there. And he has done work for almost all the leading international agencies in the world. Cosmas is now Dr Cosmas Musumali, the General Secretary of the Socialist Party!

Can a son of a humble peasant from Kalabo achieve that today? The chances of achieving that are near to zero.

Another needed value in the building of a socialist society is humility.

We cannot build a more just, more fair and more humane society without humility. If you think you are more important than others because you live in a big house in Ku; because you drive a big car; because you have a lot of money in your bank accounts and a chain of degrees to your name, you can’t be of value in building a more just, more fair, more humane society. Without humility there can’t be socialism.

Thirdly, we cannot build a more just, more fair and more humane society without solidarity.

And solidarity is the ability to feel the pain, the suffering of another human being inside your own ribs. It is the ability to tremble with indignation at the suffering, humiliation of another human being – to feel the hunger of another human being inside your own stomach even if you have just finished eating. If you feel this way you will be moved to do something about the suffering of others.

And this solidarity is international, it extends to all human beings on this planet. It’s not confined to our small locality. All human beings on this planet come from one source. Biblically we would say we are all children of the same mother and father. If this is so why shouldn’t we care for each other as siblings in a family do?

The Zambia we live in today is not anchored on the socialist as well as Christian values of honesty, equity, humility and solidarity. It is anchored on the capitalist values of individualism, of greed, of competition and of unbridled consumerism.

From the day you live your mother’s womb you are inculcated with the values of individualism, you are taught that you are an individual. Collectivism is not taught to you. You are told ziba zako, ulipalobe!

There’s a problem of water in your neighbourhood and a meeting is called to address it, individualism does not encourage you to attend that meeting. It encourages you to look for money and sink a borehole at your house. And you will go around boasting about how you are the only one in the area with water. Something that should make you sad becomes the source of your happiness, your pride!

Our current society, the capitalist society we today live in is anchored on greed. Everything of value must belong to you. You don’t care about others.

We are sitting on a time bomb. Within the next 15 years the population of Zambia will double. Today we are 18 million, in 15 years we will not be less than 32 million. If today we are crowded in Kwa what will be the situation in 15 years time?

In the meantime government forests are being de-gazetted and plots are being shared by our leaders and their friends – 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 hectares muntu umozi while those in Kwa, fellow citizens are crowded, squeezed in small plots!

No one in Kwa is ever allocated a plot there. They don’t want to live with you poor people as their neighbours. They would rather go to the national parks and collect wild animals to live with as neighbours!

How will life be like in Kwa in 15 years when the population doubles? How will the housing situation be like? What about water and sanitation?

They tell us that competition in everything is what brings progress! Yes, competition may lift a few people up – above others – and enable them to live better. But what lifts more people up is not competition but kugwirizana, ukwikatana, kwashamukwenu!

We live in a society that encourages you to buy, buy and buy everyday. You are made to buy even things you don’t need. You have to buy and buy everyday because if you stop buying they won’t make money. If you haven’t been to a shop for two or three days unvela monga wadwala.

Nyumba ya zula navovala – 200, 300, 400 pairs ya nsapato! Uzazivalila kuti? There are only 365 days in a year!

They are ready to even poison you so that you buy what they are selling.

Coca Cola! What is in it? Caffeine! A drug! They make you a caffeine drug addict so that you continue buying Coca Cola everyday!

The nutrition value of Coca Cola is near zero, it’s negligible. But there are more litres of Coca Cola sold everyday than of milk, which has a higher nutrition value!

They don’t care if that poison they are selling you kills you because they will still make money even from funerals. You have seen how expensive these funerals are becoming! The dressing! Nice and expensive black shoes, trousers, skirts or dresses and white shirts or tops, navisote so…

These are the values of the society we live in. Can we build a society full of justice, equity and peace with such values? The answer is a categorical No.

New values are needed. But they won’t come on their own, they have to be nurtured.

Beginning today we must start building a new awareness. To deal with the complex problems we are facing today will require a lot of awareness; it will require more principles than ever before.

Where are these principles, values going to come from? They will come from adding together the best of our political teachings, religious teachings and ethical and humane ideas.

Who will bring about these principles, values, ideas? Who will sow them, cultivate them and make them grow? You will – you yourselves, we ourselves because it is objectively inevitable and there’s no alternative to it if we have to harbour any hope of a better life, a more just, more fair and more humane Zambia.

It’s impossible to build a better Zambia without strong principles, values and new progressive ideas.

The individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards and common aims and values.

It is time for us to break out of the past three decades of neoliberal capitalist degeneration and break through with a clear and radical socialist vision, programme for Zambia.

Our politics should be about social and economic progress, about helping our people to give themselves a better and peaceful life.

But we cannot buy our way into such a society. We have to collectively work for it; we must plan for it together. It can only be achieved if we work together. Leaders lead, but in the end the people govern.

And this has to be our starting point!

And what can be a better place than Matero to start this this struggle that will get you into power in 2021?

Matero is the place where struggles begin, where struggles are born.

And Matero is the place where struggles are won!

Thank you very much!

I love you all!

Aluta continua!

Increase of ZESCO electricity tariffs and prices of petroleum products.

Increase of ZESCO electricity tariffs and prices of petroleum products.

Press Statement for immediate release.

As it was expected, President Edgar Lungu’s government provided Zambians a toxic and painful New-year present: An increase in fuel prices by 10% as well as in electricity tariffs by 22% and 49% for domestic and commercial consumers respectively.

We foresaw it, we previously alluded to it, but much more significantly, we had warned against such a decision! Apparently, our well-meant advice continues to fall on deaf ears. As a result, the PF government is dragging Zambia into a calamity where public debt, currency depreciation, a failed food production system and energy crisis are combining to destroy millions of livelihoods. In the midst of all this, sheer incompetency and deep-rooted corruption make solutions seem impossible.

The drastic increases in electricity tariffs are supposed to help ZESCO operate efficiently and viably! The fact however remains that ZESCO is a political cashcow. The Petty-bourgeois political leadership of this country has continued to abuse this institution for decades. The privatisation of many other parastatals under the MMD government in the 1990s left ZESCO as a lone cash-cower. With elections coming in 2021, no serious transformation will be undertaken to change the status quo.

The Socialist Party also notes that the mining sector that consumes the biggest share of electricity, 50.9%, will continue paying the low tariffs it has continued to enjoy for years! It has been exempted from this tariff increase. It is impossible to tackle ZESCO’s economic woes, without addressing the pervasive arrangement and faulty logic underlying bulk purchasing.

The 49% commercial tariff increase will hurt business activities. This is especially the case for small-scale businesses that were on the verge of collapse due to erratic power supply. However, the commercial sector consumes only about 14% of the generated power but has, since 2015, continued to increase its installed self-generation capacity. It is the biggest buyer of voltage regulators, capacitors, power surge factor units, generators and off-grid solar plants. It has found ways of insulating itself from total collapse. It will also ultimately pass on the extra cost to the final consumer – adding to the inflationary pressures of the Zambian masses.

The domestic consumer of electricity is the biggest loser and victim of the tariff increase. A 200% increase is massive and immoral given all other economic constraints the Zambian masses are facing. It is apparent that President Edgar Lungu is choosing to protect the profit interests of the mines above the welfare and livelihoods of the Zambian masses.

If the aim of this decision is to send a signal message to the IMF and other donors that have insisted on economic viable tariffs, then it is far from achieving that objective – without drastic organisational changes to ZESCO and the faulty arrangements with the mines. If it is about attracting more foreign direct investment in the energy sector, then it is equally naïve. There is more to the creation of the requisite economic and legal environment than lopsided tarrif adjustments – the operators of Maamba Collieries can offer generous advice based on their experiences. It’s a shameful lesson in incompetency and arrogance of our policy makers.

The Socialist Party therefore demands the following:

1. An immediate withdrawal of the electricity tariff increase.
2. Dissolution of the ERB Board.
3. Postponement of tariff adjustments pending the completion of the proposed “cost of service study” that would help ascertain the real cost of producing power and the determination of appropriate tariffs.
4. Inclusion of the Mining sector in tariff adjustments.

Issued by:
Dr Cosmas Musumali on behalf of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party.

Christmas greetings and New Year message from Socialist Party

Christmas greetings and New Year message from Socialist Party

It’s very difficult to separate Christmas from the new year festivities because of their closeness to each other, the joy and the hope of a better and redeemed life they both bring.

We are coming to the end of a very difficult year for our country and our people, especially the poor.

The challenges, happenings and experiences of this year have taught us that we can try to evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.

The consequences of our over borrowing, unbridled corruption, irrationality and wastefulness in public expenditure can no longer be concealed or denied.

The economic and financial decisions of the current rulers of our country were clearly not motivated by the desire to achieve, but by the desire to enrich themselves, to beat the opposition and keep themselves in power forever and ever.

The events of the year we are about to close have also taught us that reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it and we shouldn’t count on them; we should just leave them alone. They have refused to accept reality and to be moved by it. The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evidence which everybody had decided not to see.

But as we open the new year, 2020, we the citizens of this beautiful country must accept and take responsibility for all that has happened or not happened – good and bad.

As the late Josef Brodsky, Russian-born poet and Nobel Prize winner, wrote, “A free man, when he fails, blames nobody.” It is true as well for us as citizens of this country who, finally, must take responsibility for the fate of the country in which we ourselves have chosen to live.

We must learn to value ourselves, which means: to fight for our happiness.

The wrong or bad things that have gone on in our country were made possible by nothing but the sanction we give them. Such wrong or bad things require the sanction of the victims.

We have been aptly warned by Ayn Rand who wrote: “Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion – when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing – when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.”

In the coming year we will need to make a very big change in our approach and mindset if we are to see a reversal of fortunes in this country and in our lives.

Our problems cannot be solved by the same level of consciousness that created them. As Thomas Sankara said, “You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from nonconformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future.”

Confucius wrote, “Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”

We can’t wait when immoral and selfish elements are turning their corruption into policy and rolling back the rights that generations of Zambians fought for and heroes died for.

Let’s make 2020 a happy and year of revolutionary change!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy 2020!

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

Garden Compound, Lusaka

December 22, 2019

Statement of the Socialist Party on the fast deteriorating economic situation

Statement of the Socialist Party on the fast deteriorating economic situation

Things seem to be changing very quickly and ceaselessly.

It’s just over a week ago since we shared our concerns, fears, meditations and reflections on the state of our country’s economy and warned that things will get worse by the end of this year. We are now witnessing the increase of the overnight lending rate to a record high of 28 per cent, the monetary policy rate by 125 basis points to 11.50 per cent and the steep depreciation of the kwacha.

In simple terms, this means that nearly all items our people purchase – food, fuel, medicines, agricultural inputs, and so on and so forth will become more expensive. And if they have a loan from a bank or lending institution, their income will decrease.

It means that businesses that have borrowed from banks will have to pay back more than they anticipated.

In short, it means, it will be even harder for money to come by.

The Bank of Zambia has admitted that the increase in both the overnight lending rate and the monetary policy rate are measures “aimed at instilling stability in the market” and “to counter inflationary pressures that include exchange rate”.

And as we advised, the Bank of Zambia has also admitted, that “it recognises that to address the prevailing economic challenges, monetary policy actions alone are not sufficient. They need to be complemented by the implementation of corrective measures”.

It is clear that the Bank of Zambia also recognises that we are in an economic crisis! And it is imperative that our government recognises this and not only takes responsibility for it but quickly implements remedial action.

As we have said before, it takes a little intelligence – if that is all one has – to recognise that continued debt contraction and reckless government spending will make the lives of our people tougher and tougher and more and more unbearable.

Our people, who are already struggling to afford the basics – food, electricity, water, medicines, school fees and so on and so forth deserve a government that governs in their interest. A government that ensures that the basic necessities to live a dignified life are available for all.

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

Garden Compound, Lusaka

November 21, 2019

Religious hypocrisy has become the order of the day – M’membe.

Religious hypocrisy has become the order of the day – M’membe.

Reflections on National Day of Prayer

True religions and religious are now very rare to come by. or (Increasingly, true religion is becoming difficult to identify)

Religious hypocrisy and fanaticism have become the order of the day in Zambia.

These trends negate the cores of religion. What we see today is the growing fake religious practices, bitter religious superiority contestation, chaos, intolerance and tension.

The current motives of religions and the religious are now rather human, unethical, biased and materialistic. Thus, the emerging endemic religious issues are fuelled by narrow politics and capitalism confronting nations like Zambia.

A nation free from religious hypocrisy and fanaticism is bound to be truly religious and tap hugely from the rich prospects of religion, rather than the current otherwise obtained in Zambia and the like nations.

The ugly developmental calls for wide aggressive religious re-orientation and reformation are rather misplaced and misguided.

What best accounts for this course is religious hypocrisy and fanaticism. The situation presents contradictions to the thrust of religion – morality, faith, pragmatism and ethics.

Religion thus appears to have digressed from their classical precepts, thrust, vision, mission and goals. Also, it thus seems to be an irony or a dilemma of a societal institution tied to faith, clothed with pretence and the reverse of what they preach.

Zambia, a religious nation, is rather plagued with religious woes, even worse than those of the biblical Egyptian plagues on being recalcitrant to Israelites’ freedom demand and order, perhaps her people – Zambians – are guilty of worse heinous sins and sacrileges, not just against God Almighty but humanity too, than the then Egyptians’ and Sodom/Gomorra’s. The paradox is that a nation of religiousity without religion is bound to be distressed by religion. It is not an over statement to note that only barely 5 per cent of Zambians, like her ‘religious chameleon’ contemporaries elsewhere, are truly religious, while others are religious hypocrites, fanatics,  entrepreneurs and capitalists, preaching and spreading the negative of classical religious tenets, precepts, mission, visions, goals and what have you.

Who has ever seen God physically? If none, why then do we hate one another, God’s physical representatives yet claim we know/love God?

Hypocrisy is claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behaviour does not conform; pretense. In fact, the ancient Greek word comes from the word for a stage actor or one who wears a mask. It is not necessarily the fact that they sin that makes them a hypocrite, it’s the fact that they don’t acknowledge it. They don’t admit that their lives contradict what they say. They are inauthentic and imposters. They teach one thing and live the opposite.

Combatting hypocrisy was a passion for Jesus. In fact, much of Matthew 23 is dedicated to this topic. Here are some excerpts:

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see… 

“‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 

“‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.’”

Jesus took hypocrisy very seriously. Many people who claim to be Christians don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps they are Christian in name only.

A Christian is called to grow in faith and progress to being more like Christ.

It is not hypocritical to fall. It is hypocritical to deny that you fell and pretend that you were successful.

A Christian is called to live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).