Category: Opinions

Your health has been put in a casino for gamblers, speculators to make money

Your health has been put in a casino for gamblers, speculators to make money

In April this year the national health insurance Act 2018 was enacted “to provide for sound financing for the national health system; provide for a universal access to quality insured health care services; establish the National Health Insurance Management Authority and provide for its functions and powers; establish the National Health Insurance Scheme and provide for its systems, procedures and operation; establish the National Health Insurance Fund and provide for contributions to and payments from the Fund; provide for accreditation criteria and conditions in respect of insured health care services; provide for complaints and appeals processes; provide for the progressive establishment of provincial and district health offices of the Authority; and provide for matters connected with, or incidental to, the foregoing”.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 25, at page 5 states, inter alia, that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of oneself and of one’s family.
This implies that everyone has the right to medical care when sick. This obliges the government to create conditions in which every person has access to medical services and attention in the event of sickness. This right obliges the government to provide enough funds for preventive health care and basic health care assistance. This right extends to the preventive aspects of health care. This includes improved nutrition, sanitation, immunisation, education on health, improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene. This right obliges the government to pay a special attention to epidemic, endemic and occupational diseases. This right also obliges the government to pay a special attention to the improvement of healthy conditions of the children. The right to health is also connected with the rights of the persons with disabilities and the rights of the persons with HIV/AIDS.
The right to a decent standard of living also obliges governments even those, like ours, which are poor to use the maximum resources available to realise this right.
The enjoyment of the right to adequate standard of living entails adequate and equal access to health services for all. This requires an acknowledgement of the problems that beset health services and the willingness to tackle them.
Equality among citizens and the demands of justice call for policies which aim to provide adequate health care for all without distinction. Human beings can never be reduced to status objects. Every person is of equal dignity. The value of life is not to be measured by one’s possessions or position in society. Every person, whether rich or poor, has the right to receive health care.
One cannot claim to uphold the principle of the sanctity of life if provision has not been made for even minimal health care for every person.
In order to rethink fundamentally the issues surrounding this Act, we need to first understand what exactly health insurance is and what it insures. With external objects, such as a house, or a car, we know exactly what a policy insures: a house, a car, respectively. We insure for the recovery, whether by repair or replacement, of the products that we buy in case of damage or loss.
With health insurance we are able to secure funding for the necessary cost of recovering our health from a disease. In this sense, there seems to be no difference between a car policy, for example, and a health policy. However, this does seem quite right.
In the case of a car, we understand without a doubt that it is an external object that is physically separate from us. The same with houses and other things. Unlike these objects, however, our health is not external. It is what makes us function, what enables us to lead productive, meaningful lives. It allows us to be who we are. It is inconceivable to even imagine that our health is somehow external to us. So then can we talk about the health insurance industry in the same ways as we talk about the property insurance industry?
How then is health insurance even possible?
In order to understand this problem, we turn to Karl Marx’s concept of “alienation”. Marx uses this concept to understand the relationship of labour to its product. This concept is useful in helping us understand how our health undergoes the same process of “alienation” from ourselves in a dialectic process that makes health both ours, but at the same time not ours. Let me explain.
Let me begin by stating that to work is human nature. As humans we are defined by the work we do. In fact, we are our work, and our names often reveal that – Manjimela, Milimo, Ndui, Kapokola, Mulonda, Fisher, Smith, Mason, Cooper, Shoemaker, Miller and so on and so forth.
However, as soon as these products enter the cycle of being bought and sold for profit, the relationship we have with these products undergoes a fundamental change. They become something alien to us and take on a life of their own, complete separate from us. So as they accrue value, the workers who produced them see their ownership in them diminish while at the same time seeing their own value in proportion to the value of their products diminish. According to Marx, “[t]he greater his [worker’s] activity, therefore, the less he possesses. What is embodied in the product of his labour is no longer his own. The greater this product is, therefore, the more he is diminished.”
This is precisely how the process of “alienation” starts. The worker starts to be “related to the product of his labour as to an alien object.” The “alienation” of the worker in his product means not only that “his labour becomes an object, assumes an external existence, but that it exists independently, outside himself, and alien to him, and that it stands opposed to him as an autonomous power.”
So as the worker works, the more he produces through his work, the more alienated his activity becomes from himself. It becomes a “commodity as it enters a fundamentally different relationship, “a commercial relationship, a relationship of exchange, of buying and selling”. Thus, our work, that which defines us, that which is our nature, becomes the source of profit, not for us, but for those who control it.
Our health has become a commodity for an entire insurance industry.
This process of “alienation of labour” helps us understand just how the health insurance industry works today. Our health, that which enables us to work, becomes alienated from us. We insure our health as if it were an external object just like a car, or a house.
The way the health insurance industry is set up, the industry insures our health only as long as it is productive. Our health is wrested from us, made into an external object, with which to draw enormous profit, not for us, but for those who control the industry. It is literally alienated from us having undergone the transformation from something intrinsic to us to an external product. The health that is insured , however, is not the whole of our health, from good to bad, but only that part that is productive. Only that part that makes profit. Only that part that generates profit.
The word “industry” itself is apt in describing our insurance system. Under “industry” we assume that there is a concrete, external object produced through human labour that is insurable. The word itself propagates the idea that our health is capital, curiously not our own, but rather the capital with which the industry itself becomes wealthier and wealthier.
Somehow, we feel deep down that this is not right. That our health is not a commodity.
Hence, the problem with this health insurance is that our health maybe insured, but we are not. As soon as we are not able to produce that desirable external object, our health, we are no longer insurable. And why not? Because we are no longer the owner of our health. The insurance companies are. Those that profit from owning our health are. Hence, the healthier we are, the less ownership we have of our health.
Can you really be alienated from your health?
In our opinion, it is absurd to think that our health is something that can be alienated from us, commodified by a whole industry for its profit. Commodities exist solely for the profit of the owners. However, insuring our health is not like insuring a car, or a home. There is no pretence about these objects being external. If we lose them, we do not die. On the other hand, if we lose our health and our insurance because we are no longer healthy, we die for the simple fact that we cannot afford the care necessary.
We can’t play casino games with our health in this way.
It is time to fundamentally rethink this health care insurance. First of all, we need to move away from the notion that our health is something to be insured by an “industry”. The notion that it is any part of an industry is a fundamentally wrong. Health is not a commodity. It cannot and ought not to be commodified. Our health should not be used for profit.
We need to take back the ownership of our health.
Let’s bring the care into “health care” instead of giving it to an “industry.” Our lives depend on it.
Our viewpoint, as socialists, questions whether major improvements in our health system can occur without fundamental changes in the broad social order. One thrust of the field — an assumption also accepted by many non- socialists — is that the problems of the health system reflect the problems of our larger society and cannot be separated from those problems. Today our whole country has been turned into a casino where everything is being gambled – land, water, forests, food, education, health, political power and so on and so forth. All have been turned into commodities to be acquired by the highest bidder – they are up for speculation!

Speech by comrade Fred M’membe at Fieldmore’s funeral

Speech by comrade Fred M’membe at Fieldmore’s funeral

Speech by Dr Fred M’membe, Socialist Party (Zambia) Deputy General and the party’s 2021 presidential candidate at the funeral of Comrade Fieldmore Mapeto, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, August 25, 2018

Members of the bereaved family;
Leaders of Numsa, SAFTU, EFF and SRWP;
Leaders of ANC, SACP and COSATU;
Leaders of the EFF;
Colleagues of Mkhonto we Sizwe;
Respected comrades and friends,

We have come here to bury a political commissar for national liberation and socialism.

This function must be painful for all of us: first, because we are losing a good revolutionary comrade; second, because we are losing a Marxist-Leninist teacher of the first rank; third, because those of us who were his comrades, friends and colleagues are losing a comrade, a friend, a brother and a colleague. Nevertheless, how should revolutionaries react to the death of a comrade, friend, brother or colleague?

Comrades, Comrade Fieldmore understood very well the fate of a revolutionary fighter when he joined our people’s army, Chris Hani’s army – Mkhonto we Sizwe. Death is the fate of all. It is the only rest for a truly revolutionary fighter. And death is familiar to us all.

Comrades, on behalf of the Socialist Party (Zambia) I wish to convey our feelings of deep sorrow on the death of our dear friend and brother, Comrade Fieldmore.

Over the last three years, cadres of our party learned profound respect for Comrade Fieldmore as one of the most gifted, passionate and profound disseminators of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, ideas that are guiding our joint and common struggles for a more just, fair and humane world.
United under the banner of those ideas, today we are creating more and more revolutionary organisations and opening up new fronts in our struggle across Africa and other parts of the exploited, oppressed and humiliated world.

Comrade Fieldmore helped our cadres uphold the cause of socialism despite the treachery, vacillation, and irresolution of many of our comrades.

Comrades, there’s a lot to be said – and a lot will continue to be said about Comrade Fieldmore and our struggle – but this is not the best place and occasion for long speeches.

Comrade Fieldmore, we lay you to rest with the pledge that a socialist Zambia, South Africa, Africa and world you struggled for and dreamed of will one day become a reality.

Dear Comrade Fieldmore, we all owe you a debt that can only be repaid through continuing this struggle without respite, pause or improvisation – which was the passion and dream of your life.

Fighter, revolutionary, soldier for national liberation and socialism, we mourn deeply for you. You will remain in our hearts forever.

Fieldmore lives in us!
Chris Hani lives in us!
Fidel lives in us!

Statement of Socialist Party (Zambia) on Tuesday’s earthquake in Venezuela

Statement of Socialist Party (Zambia) on Tuesday’s earthquake in Venezuela

It is with profound sadness that we receive the news of the earthquake catastrophe that hit Venezuela on Tuesday.
It is with sadness, that we heard and saw on television the destruction caused by this earthquake.
We would like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to all Venezuelan people.
We are thinking so much of the people of Venezuela as they experience this terrible earthquake and all its consequences.
We are so sorry to see this devastation; we know Venezuela is a nation of people who will work their way through it all. We have a great admiration for the Venezuelan people.
We will be thinking of you each day – as always.
It would be a formidable task to recover from an earthquake of this magnitude. The Socialist Party (Zambia) stands in solidarity with the people of Venezuela through this difficult time.
We are concerned about the dire consequences of this deadly earthquake which will multiply the problems of the people of Venezuela.

By Dr Fred M’membe, Socialist Party (Zambia) Deputy General Secretary and the party’s presidential candidate in the 2021 elections.

US Military invasion of Venezuela highly possible

US Military invasion of Venezuela highly possible

A US military intervention of Venezuela is highly possible. The dynamics in American domestic politics are creating an environment in which the anti-Venezuelan forces are gaining an upper hand. This is a coalition involving US based Venezuelan dissidents, right-wing Latin American cartels and conservative Christian groupings. It is the type of groups President Trump is targeting in the bid to sustain domestic support for his administration and perform well in the forthcoming midterm elections. The heightened aggressiveness and impunity of the Columbian ruling elite, which currently serves as Washington’s blue-eyed boys in Latin America, has also helped to unite the Anti-Venezuelan forces and reawakened the possibilities of a full-scale military invasion.

In August 2017, President Trump had asked his foreign policy advisers about the possibility of invading Venezuela – a country whose economy was already crippled by sanctions and its leadership demonised as corrupt, narcotic peddlers and left-wing dictators. The suggestion to invade Venezuela had surprised even his advisors, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster, both of whom have since left his administration. Similarly, even the Latin American leaders whose accomplice he sort were not ready for an invasion. However, the current team of advisors and Latin American right wing leaders are not as careful and cautious. There is growing excitement to finally destroy the Bolivarian revolution.

The disdain and hate for the socialist oriented Bolivarian revolution is understandable. When oil prices were high, Venezuela extended financial support to its poor Latin American and Caribbean neighbours. Even poor communities in the USA received energy subsidies from Citgo,a subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. Venezuela was becoming an example of a society where poor people could come out of poverty through a committed and egalitarian government policy. This is the opposite of the greed and individualism of neo-liberal capitalism. Venezuela was is not the example that is required in Latin America – just at the backyard of the USA! American imperialism fears the power of an enlightened and socialist inspired people more than anything else.

In his desire to invade Venezuela, President Trump is known to have alluded to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region. The invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s were such examples. This is outright reckless. Panama and Grenada have hardly recovered from these invasions. The economic and social costs have been huge.

Venezuela may not be a military power, even by Latin American standards. However, the majority of the poor masses are supporters of the revolution. These are the key pillars in the defence of the country against foreign invasion. They have shaped the country’s defence doctrine to stress asymmetrical warfare: using insurgency to wear down the invading enemy forces over time. Venezuela will be more than Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Millions will perish and American lives will recklessly be sacrificed. Hopefully sanity will prevail and humanity is spared such a macabre invasion.

President Lungu’s foreign policy is corrupt and without principles

President Lungu’s foreign policy is corrupt and without principles

The shameful saga surrounding Tendai Biti’s deportation out of Zambia is not surprising. Ever since President Lungu came into power, Zambia is no longer the safe haven that it once was for those running away from political repression and persecution. Tendai Biti and those accompanying him should have known better. The Zambia situation is just as bad as, if not worse than, in Zimbabwe.The Zambia that once accepted all politically persecuted is today lawless and without compassion. President Lungu, his advisors and associates are de facto the law, They are the unrestricted alpha and omega over peoples lives. Local and international laws are of no consequence.

This reactionary development is also widely reflected in President Lungu’s foreign policy. Take the example of Zambia’s long-standing support for the Polisario Front. On February 19, 2016, the president still assured Salam El-Mami, Western Sahara’s ambassador to Zambia, of “our relentless collective calls for the independence of the people of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.” However, in February 2017, after the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, suddenly visited Zambia and signed 19 partnership agreements, the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Harry Kalaba said Zambia does not recognise Western Sahara. In clear terms, President Lungu had sold off the bond between our homeland and the struggling Sahrawi masses for some “pieces of silver”. It was a clear indication that the Zambian foreign policy was no longer about humanity and the common good of the Zambian masses. It was up for grabs to the highest bidder. The shame and disgrace this move brought on Zambia is immense.

Let us also not forget how this country has abandoned the Palestinian cause. President Chiluba initiated the process in 1977, but President Lungu completed it. The PF governmentre-opened the country’s embassy in Israel in 2015. This came 42 years after Zambia had joined progressive African countries to severe diplomatic ties with Israel following the Yom Kippur War.In addition, during the liberation struggle, Israel openly stood firm on the side of the colonial forces and Apartheid South Africa. Israeli weapons and know-how facilitated the slaughter of thousands of African civilians. The liberation struggle and the cause of the Palestinian people logically became inseparable. Southern Africa eventually got its nominal political independence, but the plight of the
Palestinians continues. A foreign policy that ignores this historical link and human obligation is immoral and bankrupt.

The process surrounding Tendai Biti deportation is however highly revealing and points to President Lungu as a calculating and cold-blooded executioner. The security immigration and police officers at the border acted professionally and defended Biti against the overzealous Zimbabwean officers who were determined to arrest him from the Zambian side of the border. Once in Lusaka, the Zambian courts also acted rationally. Despite the positive court ruling in favour of Biti’s continued stay in our homeland, he was forcibly thrown out of the country – back into the hands of the Zimbabwean authorities. All figures are directly pointing at President Lungu. He is ultimately responsible. The entire global community is appalled and shocked. There are even threats from the United States government to withhold development aid. However, this will not move President Lungu and his PF government. Withholding American support in health, education and governance will hurt the poor beneficiaries. What would bother President Lungu and his 50 close associates plus family members would be a global freeze of all their over-seas assets, businesses, transactions and travel for the next 20 years. This is the only language this clique understands.