As a youth and Citizen of the republic of Zambia, we must take interest in issues that are affecting our people. It is time for us to take back our country. Too many times we have chosen silence, too many times we have looked the other way and accepted things as the norm. This has to change; we have to change our mindsetsur mentalities and work together to bring change to this country. We must not only ask the right questions but we must begin implementing change now, be it in the current or the next government ruling.
Some of the major issues we are currently facing are poverty-increased disease and theft, corruption-mismanagement of funds, high inflation, unemployment, high electricity tariffs, lack of empowerment hence lack of investment in the people: the education system, healthcare system, infrastructure. What saddens me the most is the fact that these issues continue to worsen and the current government refuses to disclose to us why and how we got here. If we do not know the whys and how’s, then how do we progress? Do we have any functioning systems in place that help those in hardship? Does our welfare system actually function? The structures that have been put in place; do they actually work?
Now, one of my main reasons for joining the movement-Socialist Party by Dr Fred M’membe is because youth empowerment is a priority, the younger generation are our future. Real progress in the society, in investing in our younger generation, must be made through cooperative efforts of the people and citizens. The people make the country, but the future generation is needed for the country’s economic growth and sustainability. We are in the best position to define our expectations through experience and exposure, define what we want as the future of this country. They have created a platform that caters specifically to the youth and younger generations where we can bring our ideas and our initiatives and discuss how we can grow as individuals thus grow our economy. The Party wants to create future leaders, we are needed in the progress of this country.
In addition, when we look at Dr Fred M’membe, an accomplished entrepreneur and philanthropist, we should consider him a leader because he continues to help our people in the community. He has helped our people get educated, assisted with providing healthcare, sponsored people to go into university locally and internationally, assisted people in gaining employment, and provided employment for several people plus creating a platform for freedom of speech through his media business. Dr Fred M’membe and comrades such as Dr Cosmas Musumali and Dr Ngenda Mwikisa have taken part in sustainable development in poor communities and have many ideas and initiatives. Also, with significant focus on social development, Dr Cosmas Musumali continues to be actively involved in encouraging and promoting individuals to reach their full potential with his philanthropic measures. These leaders have fabricated this by their own means and without creating any attention to themselves. They have implemented this for public good, focusing on the quality of life. These are qualities of leadership.
So, what am I trying to say? These qualities of leadership indicate initiatives that an economy needs. Therefore, the socialist Party leaders have vision, placing value on the future generation and promoting sustainability. They understand the importance of investing in the basic necessities for our youth and future leaders and this has been their main focus; Education, Agriculture and Health. In order to know where we are going, we need to know what our focus and investment should be.
As concerned citizens with a vast majority of natural resources, we can see that Zambia is deteriorating disgracefully. Our education system is poor, so how then can we have a knowledgeable society? How can we implement what we do not know? How do you expect the Zambian economy to do better when the people are not being invested in? Does our welfare system protect and promote the economic and wellbeing of our citizens? Do we have access to financial aid in time of need? How high are the requirements in gaining access to this funding?
When we look at the statistics, 62% of the Zambian population survive on less than a dollar a day. 80% of people living in rural Zambia live in poverty. They have no access to clean water, no education system, no health care system and close to zero support from the government. This is why we have 40% of our children suffering from malnutrition, this is why we are not able to increase our civilisation as a country and this is why we cannot advance. What is an economy without its people? A government should be able to provide the necessary training to improve the citizens ‘skills and knowledge.
Hence why Knowledge sharing is very important. It is the key driver of economic growth. However, this is what we are lacking as a country, the government has refused to invest in its people. Instead they would rather bring in experts from overseas majority of the time, who eventually return and re-invest in their own countries. Any chance of working in alliance with these organisations to train the citizens of Zambia? How can we create a platform where knowledge is shared, skill sets are improved, systems are updated or upgraded?
I understand the current government claims that FDI has improved due to the fact that the Chinese are “improving” on our infrastructure, building our roads therefore investing in our economy. Apparently, the beautiful shopping centres and malls show this improvement. Well, what are the numbers saying? What is the actual impact? In the last 4 years our FDI flow has significantly reduced from 1.1 billion to about 550 million and the economy has nothing to show for it. We do not need strategies and tactics that make us feel good, we need strategies and tactics that work for the benefit of the people. Where are our morals and ethics as a country? Since when did we become second-class citizens?
Also, in the last 4 years we have seen an increase in our imports of 17%, only the last couple months since the pandemic has this decreased by 2%. In terms of exports, 95% of our profits come from copper. Are we planning on diversifying? Wouldn’t agriculture be a great sector to invest in? How about energy? If these policies have been created by our policy makers but are not being measured or tracked, how then do we know which procedures and processes actually work?
These are the issues, we know what they are, and yes, we are speaking up on them, but what are the important things we need to be doing rather than simply condemning the current government? As a part of the socialist party and understanding their purpose, I have been able to approach the party and provide my initiatives and ideas that have been taken on board. I simply asked, what can we do right now as youths, what changes can we make as abled citizens of Zambia that portray confidence and hope.
I am all about knowledge sharing and I care about the well-being of many, and with the assistance of the socialist party I have been able to conclude on a project that involves using my personal land to promote farming and local food production, also creating an innovation platform, thus providing training, employment by working closely with other farmers and encouraging innovative ideas. That is a choice that I made and the socialist party has helped with providing so much information, providing networks, by connecting with others with similar ideas, and if I am in a position to help by going in alliance with leaders who see my vision who want to help me grow as leader as this will have a significant impact on the overall economy then why not? I have keyed into that vision.
In conclusion, yes, I urge my fellow youth and fellow citizens of Zambia to stand up for your rights. Yes, we must continue to demand answers. Yes, the issues in Zambia are not being addressed. Yes, the current government is trying to rule by instilling fear in us. Yes, we will continue to speak and our voices will be heard. And yes, we are the people of Zambia; we will remain significant.
However, the change really begins with us and it begins right now, today. If you have any ideas, any initiatives, or any concerns, we have leaders whom may not be in power yet but will listen to you and will take your initiatives on board and will help you. As long as it is for the benefit of the people, of the economy, it is the right thing to do. So, avoid placing much focus on the issues, those are the issues yes, they continue to affect us yes, but focus on the solutions. If you want to be a part of the movement and begin implementing change now, reach out to leaders who will not only claim to assist once they are in office but who are assisting right now with the limited resources they have.
Lastly, business owners, or those who are privileged, those who are educated, those who have been exposed, those in the diaspora, please step forward and speak for the majority of Zambians living in poverty, think of ways to work in conjunction with the socialist party for the benefit of the people. Together we can accomplish so much and more and giving the socialist party the opportunity would provide even more accomplishments as a nation.
By Khotiye Mwikisa MCIPS,
Procurement Specialist in the Victoria Rail Industry
Law Student at Victoria University
Member of the Socialist Party Youth League.