Tag: Coronavirus

Statement of the  Socialist Party on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Statement of the Socialist Party on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Things are changing ceaselessly. As we witness the daily rise in the coronavirus cases recorded in the country, we must begin to acknowledge that the pandemic has and will magnify the structural dilemma our country is faced with.

But we must be reminded, that even though the pandemic may worsen these problems – it did not create or cause them.

The current government of our country has had no strategic plan to combat the pandemic. Their response to the pandemic has been poorly coordinated.

Necessary measures like closing borders, the provision of PPE for our health workers, confining citizens and reaching out to countries that have dealt with the pandemic better such as China and Cuba have not been prioritized.

Instead, the pandemic has not been taken seriously – gyms, casinos, restaurants, golf clubs have been reopened whilst our daily number of recorded cases is on the increase.

But at the center of this, our health workers are doing a tremendous job in the most difficult of circumstances.
They are being placed in the front line of this battlefield to provide a service to the community, yet they are not well protected, yet they are not well remunerated and yet they are not even well appreciated. They are risking their own lives and the lives and wellbeing of their own children to save us. We must protect them, remunerate them well and appreciate them.

And we must tackle this pandemic with the seriousness, tenacity it deserves. Our peoples lives are at stake.

It is also clear that the reality that this pandemic will leave our already limping economy in shambles has already dawned on our people – from street vendors to people who run their own small businesses to employees of big companies – they are all already feeling the pinch of it.

And this has been confirmed by projections that the Zambian economy for the first time in over 20 years, will experience negative growth this year, as it will shrink by at least 2.6 per cent.

We are already beginning to see many lose their jobs. This will increase with the prolonged pandemic, but again, we must not believe that this is a result of the pandemic alone. A stronger economic performance, prior to the pandemic, would have minimized job losses and forced pay cuts.

We have time and time again warned this government about the careless contraction of unsustainable debt – but we have not seen things change. Last year, our debt to GDP ratio increased from 35 per cent in 2014 to about 80 per cent in 2019. It was clear prior to the pandemic that servicing this debt will prove difficult for this country. But today, the government will blame the projected defaulting on loan obligations on this pandemic.

We must also remember that the failure to improve the standard of living of our people prior to this pandemic has endangered many lives. With over 60 per cent of our population living below the poverty line, over 350,000 people not having access to regular food supply, and an astonishingly high proportion of our fellow citizens in Kwa and villages not having access to clean running water.

Our people need a leadership that acknowledges that the coronavirus pandemic, has revealed to us, that poor leadership and continued reliance on the “each one for himself” way of life propagated cannot bring solutions for our people.

We must face the reality that pandemics will increase in the years to come, due to over population in many parts of the world, reduced animal habitat increasing the spread of animal diseases in humans, the increase in mega cities and the increased global and local movement of people.

We therefore, cannot continue not to prioritize our economic, health, social and environmental preparedness for these occurrences.

And based on the global and local response to this and past pandemics, it is evident that only socialist oriented solutions can be applied. All the countries are, to varying degrees, applying socialist solutions to try and deal with this virus.

We must therefore ask ourselves: why is it that when there is a crisis socialism comes in? Why not have socialism permanently? Why not all the time or permanently guarantee and provide all our people with free quality health care, decent housing and sanitation, free quality education, food and all the basic necessities for one to live a dignified life?

What has been exposed through the response of all the political representatives of capitalism is that workers and the poor cannot defend their conditions, their rights and now their very lives, through these organisations and under capitalism.

The coronavirus pandemic has expanded the spectrum of imaginable futures and political possibilities. And some of those possibilities have been a sight for sore socialists’ eyes. The virus has validated the core socialist tenet that we are all dependent on each other. When one nation lacks the public-health infrastructure necessary to contain an infectious disease, the public health of all nations is undermined. If thousands or millions of Zambians cannot afford to stay home from work or access health care when they are ill, the well-being of all Zambians is jeopardized.

The experience of the past months has presented the real face of capitalism – a system that constitutes the greatest threat to mankind. Workers, the poor, young people and professionals must fight for a socialist perspective, the only means by which we can make progress.

Without a huge scientific advance soon, the reality of us spending five or more years with high death rates and anemic economies is almost certain.

The coronavirus is indeed a likely major hinge point, but it is only an accidental vehicle to reveal more sharply all the internal contradictions of capitalism and the underlying character of its failed democracy.

It fully reveals its ineptitude, blind allegiance to survival of the fittest herd immunity ideology, hatred for the poor and old, gleeful thoughts of having created a new way to achieve permanent daily death and destruction benefits of traditional war that capitalism is so addicted to. The dangers are real. We now have the chance to choose:  barbarism or socialism.

This requires the building of a new socialist awareness and leadership among all our people.

I urge you to join our party, the Socialist Party today.

Statement of the Politburo of the Socialist Party issued by Fred M’membe

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 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

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