Q. Comrade we have just done 2018, how do you analyze the year 2018?
A. 2018 was a very difficult year for Zambians, especially those without jobs, those that lost jobs, those that depend on their meager salaries for survival and those that are trying to earn a living through farming, students who have not been able to pay their fees, and basically all poor and marginalized Zambians.
With the downturn of the Zambian economy, a lot of things are very hard to come by for the average Zambian. And what we have also seen is that apart from the economy biting and making life very, very difficult for our people, the political climate has also worsened – there has been increased repression from the leading political party and from those in government. We have also seen high levels of intolerance when it comes to dealing with national issues, we have also witnessed state sponsored violence where crisis and the issues that should have been dealt with amicably were resolved using strong hand tactics.
And this is most likely not going to end in 2019, it is a continuum of violence that is increasingly making life very difficult in Zambia. But we have also seen the reaction of the international community, one of the sad areas was in the areas of corruption, where donors had to go to the extent of withdrawing their support because we are deemed to be a corrupt society especially the leadership and even the government itself.
We have seen our grading in terms of governance deteriorating, in terms of human rights, in terms of the livelihoods of the people and many other indicators of governance and economic wellbeing.
Economic status and projection
In short, 2018 has not been an easy year: things have been rather difficult for the average Zambian, the little bit of democratic space that was gained earlier on has been lost in that year and the hope is becoming less that 2019 is going to be any better. For 2019 we expect the continuation of the suffering that we saw in 2018. I would add actually that things are going to be worse off compared to 2018. What we expect is an economy that is literally stagnating, and as the economy is stagnating we expect also that inflationary pressures to come in, in a much bigger way, its going to be very, very difficult to do away with the inflation when it comes to food, and beyond food also some of the none food products upon which the poor people depend.
We see a lot of difficulties in accessing social amenities, social utilities for the masses of our people, the paying of school fees is going to be a challenge, the meeting of transport needs or requirements is going to be a big challenge, food itself is going to be a big challenge for our people, hospitals and medical requirements are still going to be another hustle.
Political Resistance and Repression
So 2019 may also produce some bit of resistance from our people, as the suffering increases there is a good chance that people are going to go out on the street to vent out their anger. With that, there is also a possibility of much more repression as the government becomes insecure and unstable.
Political Players and alternatives
On the political scene we do not see much change, what we are witnessing in Zambia is a proliferation of opposition political parties that do not have a different agenda from that of government. These are capitalist political parties that are repositioning themselves; these find the leadership of the PF and government weak and they are vying for positions not necessarily that they are doing it for the betterment of Zambians but they see their chances to get into power, come 2021. That’s the dilemma that we find ourselves in, in the political sphere in Zambia. And the troubles of 2019 are going to be a huge reflection of this dilemma.
Pacifying political tensions
We expect also to see some attempts towards national dialogue taking place, as the situation becomes critical, we will most likely see certain parties such as the church coming in and trying to bring in some bit of sanity. We do appreciate those efforts, we will support those efforts, we are skeptical that the current government has the willingness, has the capacity, the commitment to changing the situation. It’s an elite, political elite that has come into power using violence and if it doesn’t use violence what else has it got to offer? It’s an elite that continues to use the buying of people, misusing government resources, it’s parasitic on the public funding and this is a culture that it cannot just easily stop. But as it tries to re-assert itself, there will be contradictions within those that are in power and there will be some form of opposition within the leading party itself or the ruling party itself but that should not be judged as a measure of increased democracy and transparency in Zambia. If anything it’s a measure of a failing elite, failing in terms of providing to the Zambians. Then it becomes insecure and starts fighting itself. Not necessarily that those that are fighting the current government have got much or better to offer, NO. Definitely not.
For SP, for the socialist party, we feel the main fight is against the failures of capitalism, it’s a system that hasn’t delivered to our people for so many years and it won’t definitely deliver in 2019. Joblessness is going to increase, inflationary pressures are going to increase and any wealth that created in Zambia is going to be consumed or is going to accrue mostly to the already rich people. And this is not going to change, it’s going to be enhanced. The richer will get richer, the poor will remain poor under the capitalism that we experience in Zambia. And as a party we stand firm behind the suffering masses, behind the working people of this country. We will do our part to agitate, we will do our part to stand firm for the masses and against the exploitative and repressive tendencies of the current government. It’s going to be a year of struggle, but we also think that with our combined forces it is going to produce positive results. By the end of the year, that movement towards peace, towards equity, towards justice will gain in strength it will give Zambians the confidence that they can be masters of their destiny and that Zambia can be a better society. That’s how we get into 2019, it’s going to be a year of resistance, a year of the revolution.