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Let’s revamp our reading culture! – SP Women’s League

Let’s revamp our reading culture! – SP Women’s League

16 April is an annually celebrated International Special Librarians Day. The commemorations aim to honor library workers, librarians, or to make donations of various forms. Importantly, this day is a reminder of the role of libraries and librarians in promoting the quality of education worldwide.

Reflecting on the role of libraries and celebrating librarians is key to our Zambian context. Today, we struggle with staggering literacy levels of about 55.3 percent, with illiteracy that is much more prevalent among females than males. In order to combat the high illiteracy rates, it is vital that we revive our community libraries, promote a culture of reading, and make reading materials available, and accessible to all.

In the past, Zambia’s major cities hosted vibrant community libraries that provided space to assist people find information and reading materials they needed to learn, space to study, work, or for recreational purposes. These libraries contributed to promoting access to information, reading materials and in inculcating a culture of reading. In the bigger scheme of things, community libraries added value to the quality and development of our education system. Today, our education system and quality of schools are much compromised with a growing gap between urban and rural areas.

Globally, while libraries have evolved, what has happened in Zambia is that either our community libraries have closed down or operate under poorly equipped conditions that disadvantage them to cope and to remain relevant in the fast changing times. While a privileged few have access, most government schools lack access to reading materials or there exists very few libraries in these schools.

Today, we are faced with an unprecedented global health COVID-19 pandemic characterised by prolonged lockdowns and deepening crises. These growing challenges are a reminder that it is in our best interest that we revisit the concept of community libraries and how we can make them more relevant in providing digitalised facilities to aid home schooling, access to reading and learning materials, and information for free and for all. While it is important to maintain elements of our traditional libraries, it is vital that we shift to digital libraries that can be accessed by all Zambians.

All Zambians are equal. Improving Zambia’s quality of education is one of the critical issues that the Socialist Party (SP) is passionate about today and tomorrow. Through the Fred M’membe literacy programme, the SP has reached out to many men and women in both urban and rural areas to promote a culture of learning, reading and writing.

We invite you to think big and join us to realise a Zambia that embraces Justice, Equity and Peace for ALL. Ours is a vision by the humble Zambians for the humble Zambians.

Statement of the Socialist Party on the social and economic consequences of the coronavirus on the poor

Statement of the Socialist Party on the social and economic consequences of the coronavirus on the poor

The coronavirus outbreak has put a spotlight on economic inequalities in our country and a fragile social safety net that leaves many of our vulnerable fellow citizens to bear the economic and social brunt of this pandemic.

Our political leaders will need to consider these underlying inequalities in responding urgently to the mounting challenges of this pandemic.

While the coronavirus affects people regardless of wealth, the poor will be most affected due to longstanding vulnerabilities.

Although the coronavirus started with those who are able to travel abroad, as time goes on, the poor – as maids, cleaners, drivers, and so on and so forth to the well-to-do – are more likely to be exposed to the virus, have higher mortality rates, and suffer economically.

In times of economic crisis, these vulnerabilities will be more pronounced for the poor.

The measures taken to curb the spread of the virus – necessary as they are – are very crippling to the poor.

We need a response to the coronavirus that prevents people from having to choose between not having a meal and risking their and their families’ health.

The poor need help. They are hit first and hardest by the economic consequences of fighting this virus.

Low-income jobs in fields like retail, hospitality, childcare, and the gig economy cannot be performed remotely.

And research has shown that poverty is associated with higher rates of chronic health conditions such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, factors that increase vulnerability to the coronavirus. The poor, to a great extent and especially in urban areas, live in high density areas, where water and sanitation leave a lot to be desired. Measures such as social distancing are difficult to implement.

The poor have no savings to weather a lack of income, and even stocking up on food can represent an impossible financial hurdle. They live a hand-to-mouth life. They have to go out everyday to find something to put on the table.

Due to the lack of resources to prepare and protect against the coronavirus, the poor face a higher risk of contracting and subsequently spreading the virus.

Money or no money, the government has an obligation to protect people’s right to an adequate standard of living, which includes ensuring adequate food and nutrition, the highest attainable standard of health, and social security.

There’s need to provide a safety net for families and workers whose livelihoods are affected.

The government should consider a response that would support the poor and all low-income workers and people who have lost wages.

There’s need to support and protect the poor and all those who face devastating job and wage loss.

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

Statement of the Socialist Party on the closure of Prime Television

Statement of the Socialist Party on the closure of Prime Television

We strongly condemn the closure of Prime Television following the cancellation of their broadcasting license by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

And we demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of their licence.

The police have taken over the premises of Prime Television station and sealed the place. Over 15 police officers, heavily armed, are guarding the place and have chased the workers.

This is lawlessness and impunity from a reckless government. What right do they have to take over private property. From what we know they have cancelled a broadcasting licence, that does not give them the power to take over a citizen’s property. This lawlessness, lack of respect for citizens’ property rights is very annoying.

It is evident that the targeting, victimization and now closure of Prime TV is not accidental nor an isolated occurrence. It is instead, part of a consistent campaign to destroy and ultimately eradicate all credible independent media that exists to educate and inform the Zambian people while refusing to be compromised by the government.

They have done so much wrong that their preoccupation now is not to correct those wrongs or to govern but to do whatever it takes to remain in power and, that way, stop their possible prosecution.

Over the last 6 years, media freedom in Zambia has been eroded. This government has had great success in snuffing out critical journalism.

We retaliate that 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 grave danger.

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 and democracy. We all have an individual and collective role to play in maintaining media freedom. We must all defend uncompromising independent media such as Prime TV and our democracy!

Issued by Fred M’membe, Press Freedom Hero of the United Nations affiliated International Press Institute and Socialist Party President on behalf of the Politburo.

April 10, 2020

Easter reflections from the Socialist Party

Easter reflections from the Socialist Party

From Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, Christians will reflect on the death and resurrection of Christ.
It’s a story that transformed the world we live in.
Some of the character traits we value so highly today have their origins in what is said to have happened in those few days in Jerusalem.
The big one is humility. The fact that we today value humility and we think about leadership as service to those under your power – we trace that back entirely to Jesus.
This all stems from the central message of Easter and of Christianity itself: God became a man and allowed himself to be killed to redeem humanity.
This was revolutionary when you compare it to the prevailing ideas about power and leadership at the time.
We have to think differently about hierarchy, privilege, power, service, leadership, and all those things.
Before Christianity, there was no real sense that humility was a virtue. Although the Ancient Greeks had a sense of hubris – excessive pride that would be punished by the gods – there was still a firm emphasis on achievement, power and status as the ways to determine someone’s moral worth.
In the ancient world, humility was indistinguishable from humiliation. It would be horrifying that someone with power would come down to the level of someone below them.
If our god could submit to death and even a shameful death like – crucifixion – we have to think differently about hierarchy, privilege, power, service, leadership and all those things.
Over these days priests at local parishes all the way up to the Pope himself will try to recreate these lessons. They will humble themselves by washing the feet of members of their congregation.
You see someone like the Pope doing that – power voluntarily lowering itself – and there’s something really compelling about that still.
Reflections on humility, service and leadership today seem appropriate.
Easter is time for some deep thinking about what it means to lead.
Jesus up-ended hierarchies but he also up-ended conflict. Instead of responding to violence and hostility in kind, he counselled his followers to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile and to love their enemies.
Although this seems counterintuitive and incredibly difficult to do, there is evidence to suggest it’s effective.
We are increasingly hostile in dealing with disagreement.
Jesus really offers a model of nonviolence.
We don’t want to make a traditional Easter statement or sermon, however.
There are meaningful messages in the narrative about Jesus being reborn after dying that can be useful for anyone, regardless of their religious or non religious beliefs. If we would simply look at Easter’s messages of rebirth and death, we would all be able to make significant strides toward immense self-improvement. Although human beings are not able to physically die and return to life again here on Earth, we need to experience many metaphorical deaths and rebirths. There are many areas in our lives where we have things that we need to bury and experience
Christ-like rebirth of those things in our lives. By Christ-like rebirth, we mean doing away with things that are not productive in our lives and replacing those things with things that are going to promote eternal growth in our lives.
Thinking about rebirth and death can be quite unsettling for many of us. Many of us don’t want to even consider thinking about death. Although thinking about our literal deaths can be vexing psychic exercises, many of us will find metaphorical deaths to be just as difficult to contemplate as literal deaths.
When we have to think about giving up some of the habits that we cannot break that are destroying us, this can be very unnerving. We need to realise when we have some habits that need to be buried and replaced with some more productive habits.
On this Easter, it is necessary for us to think about the need to experience many metaphorical deaths and metaphorical rebirths in our lives. This juxtaposition of rebirth and death can make us better human beings who live much more fulfilling and productive lives. Let’s learn how to die so that we might have a chance to be reborn!

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

Statement of the Socialist Party on World Health Day  – April 7

Statement of the Socialist Party on World Health Day – April 7

This year we mark World Health Day – April 7 – in the midst of a very serious global pandemic – the coronavirus.
This pandemic reminds us that health is a human right; and it’s time for health for every Zambian, for every human being.
We believe and know that universal health coverage is possible. And it’s our collective duty to struggle for it and make it happen in our homeland and the whole world!
Universal health coverage means that every Zambian has access to the quality health services she or he needs, when and where she or he needs them, without financial hardship.
The great majority of Zambians, especially those in rural areas, do not receive the health services they need.
And many Zambians are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket spending on health.
Health is a human right; every Zambian should have the information and services they need to take care of their own health and the health of their families.
Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage.
Unsafe and low-quality health care ruins lives.
Primary health care should be the first level of contact with the health system, where individuals, families and communities receive most of their health care—from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care – as close as possible to where they live and work.
At its heart, primary health care is about caring for people and helping them improve their health or maintain their well-being, rather than just treating a single disease or condition.
Primary health care covers the majority of your health needs throughout your life including services such as screening for health problems, vaccines, information on how to prevent disease, family planning, treatment for long- and short-term conditions, coordination with other levels of care, and rehabilitation.
Primary health care is a cost-effective and equitable way of delivering health services.
To make health for all a reality, we need skilled health workers providing quality, people-centred care; and policy-makers committed to investing in primary health care. Socialist parties and governments take a lead in the world in struggling for and providing health care for all.
Universal health care is possible, only with public healthcare delivery.
When it comes to health care profit should not be placed over people.
Profit should never come before people’s needs. We must stop this; we must change this.
We need universal access to quality public health care, free at the point of service.
And quality health care delivery requires decent work for health workers.
And on this day remember Commandante Fidel Castro’s great contribution to the global public health. Fidel not only led exemplary initiatives to ensure healthcare for all within Cuba, but also ensured that Cuban doctors were the first to reach out to people in other countries, especially developing countries, during natural disasters. Under Fidel, Cuban medical scientists also developed cutting-edge measures to combat diseases, ranging from meningitis to cancers.
Across the political spectrum, few would dispute the outstanding successes the Cuban healthcare system has achieved under the Revolution.
Fidel consistently promoted advances in primary healthcare, public health, medical education and research. These include establishing a widespread network of public hospitals and community-based clinics, emphasising on preventive and promotive health measures, and building a unique system for training of doctors and healthcare professionals.
Fidel supported the creation of the family doctor-and-nurse programme since the 1980s, ensuring that every neighbourhood of Cuba had access to primary healthcare. Small wonder, the country’s infant mortality rate stands at 4.2 per 1,000—the lowest in Latin America and even lower than the rate in the United States – even though its per capita healthcare spending is just a fraction of that of the United States.
Taking healthcare beyond its borders, Cuba has been sending its doctors and health workers to help deprived populations in developing countries during emergency since 1963. Today, over 30,000 Cuban healthcare workers, dubbed “army of white coats”, work in more than 60 countries. They were the first to reach the remote areas of northern Pakistan that suffered extensive damage during the 2005 earthquake. Over 2,500 Cuban medics saved lives by conducting operations on injured people even in extremely difficult conditions. During the Ebola epidemic in western Africa, the Cuban medical contingent was the largest foreign medical team from any country, providing care to people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Now they are in Italy risking their lives in the fight against the coronavirus.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, stated about Cuban doctors: “They are always the first to arrive and the last to leave. They remain in place after the crises. Cuba can be proud of its healthcare system, a model for many countries.”
Cuba under Fidel’s leadership founded the Latin American School of Medicine in 1999, which has trained around 30,000 physicians from over a hundred countries. Indeed, if there is one developing country in the world today which stands out for its contributions to global health, it is Cuba. While Fidel is no more among us, we are confident that the sound foundations he has laid for public health will last for long and remain an inspiration to those of us committed to people’s health.

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