Tag: repression

My two cents on the growing intolerance-Dr M’membe

My two cents on the growing intolerance-Dr M’membe Featured

Intolerance – the unwillingness to put up with disagreeable ideas and groups – is increasingly becoming a staple of those who want to hear only one narrative in this country.

The topic is today no less important than it was in the days of UNIP and Dr Kenneth Kaunda. In those days people were dissuaded in all sorts of ways from uttering words against, or in opposition of, UNIP and Dr Kaunda.

The failure of truly democratizing our politics to embrace political freedom for all, even those in the opposition, is one of the most important impediments to the consolidation of our multiparty or plural politics.

Without protection of the right of all to participate in politics, the marketplace of ideas cannot function effectively. The idea of a marketplace is that anyone can put forth a product—an idea—for political consumers to consider. The success of the idea is determined by the level of support freely given in the market. The market encourages deliberation, through which superior ideas are found to be superior, and through which the flaws of bad ideas are exposed for all to see – almost as if guided by an invisible hand. Without a willingness to put up with all ideologies and ideas seeking to compete for the hearts and minds of the citizenry the market is likely to fail. Thus, a fairly simple theory is that democracies require the free and open debate of political differences, and such debate can only take place where political tolerance prevails.

Political tolerance in a democracy requires that all political ideas – and the groups holding them – get the same access to the marketplace of ideas as the access legally extended to the ideas dominating the system. This definition obviously precludes any form of violence, bullying and therefore I make no claim that political tolerance extends to the right of violent elements to engage in violence. It may, however, protect the speech rights of violent elements, or, more precisely, those who advocate violence.

Actions and behaviors related to efforts to persuade people and to compete for political power must be put up with. Obviously, illegal activity need not be countenanced, even if I acknowledge that the line between legal and illegal is often thin, given the power and propensity of our rulers to criminalize political activities by the opposition and other dissenters.

The marketplace of ideas approach anticipates two important – and interconnected – restraints on freedom. First, many fear that the government, typically under the guise of regulation, will usurp power and deny the expression of ideas threatening to the status quo – i.e. the power of the government of the day.

A second constraint on freedom is more subtle: it originates in the political culture of a polity – the beliefs, values, attitudes, and behaviors of ordinary citizens. Restraints on freedom can certainly emanate from public policy; but they can also be found in subtle demands for conformity within a society’s culture. To the extent that ordinary citizens are intolerant of views challenging mainstream thought, the expression of such viewpoints is likely to generate sanctions and costs. This can in turn create a spiral of silence: a dynamic process in which those holding minority viewpoints increasingly learn about how rare their views are, thereby leading to silence, which in turn makes the ideas seem to be even less widely held, and therefore more dangerous or costly to express.

This growing intolerance, if not stopped, will create a silent generation, a cohort unwilling to express views that might be considered controversial or unpopular. And, to complete the circle, mass political intolerance can be a useful form of political capital for those who would in turn enact repressive legislation. To the extent that a political culture emphasizes conformity and penalizes those with contrarian ideas, little tolerance exists, and the likelihood of political repression is high.

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

Socialist party scores first: Holds its Congress

Socialist party scores first: Holds its Congress

PRESS BRIEFING:

Announcement of First Congress of the Socialist Party

Dear ladies and gentlemen from the press, welcome to this media briefing. We are here to make a very important pronouncement pertaining the growth of the Socialist Party.
As you may still remember, the Socialist Party was formally registered on the 16th of October, 2017 – after a protracted waiting period of over a year! The registration was officially announced to the Zambian public a month later, i.e. on the 17th of November of the same year. Consequently, the Party was successfully launched on the 31st of March, 2018 at Kingfisher Lodge in Lusaka’s Jesmondine area.
The launch of the Socialist Party was marked with a highly antagonistic attitude from government. You may recall that some of the comrades who had turned up to offer solidarity to the Party were treated to animosity by the Zambian state. For example, the Cuban ambassador was sent out of the country in highly questionable and undiplomatic circumstances. Other external visitors were denied entry into the country at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.
Ladies and gentlemen, this animosity has not stopped. We continue to work under a hositile political environment. The more the current regime fails to deliver on its promises to the masses of our people,the harder the repression on opposition political parties. We, therefore, continously suffer harrasment, intimidation, verbal abuse and all forms of injustice. The country has become a dictatorship of the tiny ruling clique.
The Socialist Party has, however, proceeded with its mobilization programme and activities – despite the hostile political environment. Against all odds, we are resolved, more than ever before to stay the course until victory is assured. We shall not abandon our collective resolve to defeat capitalism and its political puppets in Zambia and our homeland, Africa.
For us, socialism is not a slogan of convenience. It is not for seeking relevance and prominence. Socialism is to us a practical deed to lift those lagging behind in the rat race of life under capitalism.
Ladies and gentlemen and dear comrades, capitalism as we all know is a system of inequalities. It is a system where the labour of the majority creates wealth for the minority. This phenomenon must be challenged and challenged decisively.
Our primary mandate, therefore, is to protect and advance the interests of the working masses. Our task is to entrench socialist values in the broad masses of our people and build a society where justice, equity and peace are guaranteed.
Today, we would like to announce that the Socialist Party, in its measured quest to demonstrate how working class democracy works, as opposed to the abject failure in this regard of the petty bourgeois parties in the country, will be holding its first national congress in Lusaka starting this Friday, September 27, 2019 here at the Dream Valley Resort.
The Congress comes barely 18 months after the Party’s launch and has invited over 500 delegates from all the 10 provinces across the country.
The Zambian workers’ collectively will finally render their voices to how they want their Party to move toward its revolutionary objective henceforth.
The congress is the highest decision making organ of the Party where resolutions will be made on a number of issues – including administration of the party, review of the constitution, structures of the party, leadership, the formation of a women’s league, the Youth League, international solidarity, participation in elections and resource mobilisation.
Ladies and gentlemen and dear comrades, a Congress of this nature and magnitude would not have been possible without the immense collective effort of our members. It is the members that have invested time, financial and material resources required for the congress. Our members have been and will remain our greatest asset in the growth of the Party.
The Zambian workers will this Friday, send a resounding message to all and sundry that the revolutionary journey they have embarked upon, will be driven by them and the victorious outcome will be by themselves and for themselves, never the capitalists.
They will shout loudly that ENOUGH is ENOUGH and that Nothing For Us Without Us. They will define the future they want to see for themselves and not to allow other classes to wage that struggle against capitalism for them.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to thank you, members of the press and your respective media houses, for the support and faith demonstrated towards the workers struggles through the Socialist Party.
We would have loved that you stay throughout the congress but this is an intraparty meeting without much participation from the outsiders. However, let me take this opportunity to invite you to the official opening of our congress on Friday from 09:00 – 11:00 hrs. We further extend an invitation to you to the closing ceremony on Sunday at 12:00 hours.

Thank you very much.

Aluta! Continua!