Category: Opinions

Zambia needs a new type of politics

Zambia needs a new type of politics Featured

Over the next eleven weeks, you will hear, from my opponents or competitors, how our country is flourishing, how happy we all are, how we trusted our government, and what bright perspective are unfolding before us.

I didn’t accept to be the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party so that I, too, would lie to you. Our country is not flourishing. Zambia is 123rd in the overall Prosperity Index rankings. Since 2010, Zambia has moved down the rankings table by 12 places.

A country once proud of its educational standards now spends so little on education that it ranks so low in the world. Our country which used to rank so low on the corruption index today is among the world’s most corrupt nations.

Today we live in a highly contaminated moral environment. We have lost our values, principles, standards and common aims. We learned to ignore each other, to care only for ourselves. In Zambia today love, friendship, compassion, equity, justice, solidarity, fairness and humility have lost their depth and dimensions.

When I talk about the contaminated moral atmosphere, I am speaking about all of us. We have all become used to a corrupt and intolerant system and accepted it as an unalterable fact of life, and thus we help to perpetuate it. None of us is just its victim; we are all its co-creators.

We urgently need a new type of politics based on morality, principles, values, standards and common aims. We need to teach ourselves and others that politics should be an expression of the desire to contribute to the happiness of the community rather than of a need to cheat or rape the community. Let us teach ourselves and others that politics can be not only the art of the possible, especially if “the possible” includes the art of speculation, calculation, intrigue, secret deals, and pragmatic maneuvering, but that it can also be the art of the possible, that is, the art of improving ourselves and the country.

We have a duty to struggle for a more just, fair and humane society. We should dream of such a Republic.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

It’s time to choose between the future and the past – M’membe

It’s time to choose between the future and the past – M’membe Featured

ON AUGUST 12, Zambians will face a stark choice: a choice between the future and the past, Socialist Party president Fred M’membe has said.

“Today the case I put before the Zambian people is that if we are to secure the future for our children, for our communities and for our nation, the government of Zambia must now change in a real and revolutionary sense,” he said.

“The neoliberal, capitalist policies being pursued and advanced by our opponents belong to the past. Socialism is the future and we must build it now. After a decade in power, the PF has lost touch with the poor and working people. It no longer understands what fairness, justice, equity and peace actually mean. It simply doesn’t understand the new challenges we face, now, and in the future.”

In a statement ahead of the party’s official campaign launch, Dr M’membe spelled out some of the challenges Zambia was facing.

“One challenge is to revolutionise our hospitals and make health services free and socialised. And above all, there is the challenge to transform our education system and make it free and socialised,” he said.

“The PF has no plans for the future because it’s not going to be there to deal with the challenges of the future. It is being sent to the wire on August 12.

“The way forward for Zambia is to elect a revolutionary party and president with progressive ideas to meet the challenges of the future, a new president and government that understand and respect the values upon which our independence struggle was fought.”

Dr M’membe said those values were honesty, equity, humility and solidarity.

“We need to build a Zambia anchored on justice, equity and peace. We need a nation where there’s decency, fairness and respect,” he said. “You can’t have a plan for Zambia’s future if you have lost sight of such basic values. For us socialists, these values are in our DNA.”

Dr M’membe said Zambia needed a new leadership with fresh ideas for the future. “With barely three months to go in this election campaign, the PF government has put forward no real new ideas for the future. It has run out ideas. It has clearly run out of energy. And it has run out of time.

“The Socialist Party is offering new leadership with a plan for the future, and however many words and however much money the PF may yet throw at these longstanding challenges over the next 11 weeks, it is just not going to be real. The truth is, it’s all just too late to be believable.”

Dr M’membe said nation-building required vision. “And the cornerstone of our vision for Zambia’s future is an education revolution. We believe passionately in the power of education,” he said. “We believe education is the engine room of equity and the engine room of the economy. I would not be standing as a presidential candidate today were it not for the encouragement and instruction provided to me by the teachers who shaped my life. They made it possible for a child like me from Lubemba and Bulozi to finish school, go to university and be here today seeking to lead our nation into the future.

“I know the difference a great education can make. Our vision for Zambia is to build a very good education system so we produce an innovative, skilled and well-trained workforce.”

Dr M’membe said the economies competing against Zambia were making huge investments in education. “They know that knowledge-intensive economies will be the wealthiest economies of the future. We must take decisive action now,” he said. “We need nothing less than an education revolution now to improve radically the performance of the education system. Universities are critical to the education revolution that Zambia so urgently needs. Undoing the damage this government has done to our universities will not be easy. But this challenge begins today.

“Zambia cannot be put on the path of a knowledge economy if we do not help our universities attract and retain our best scientists, innovators and researchers into the future.”

Dr M’membe said he was approaching the election “with a passionate commitment to Zambia’s future”.

“The values I bring to leadership are the values instilled in me by my strong Bemba royal upbringing,” he said. “They are also the values that are intrinsic to this revolutionary party. I understand that life is sometimes harsh, but I believe that as a people we have a responsibility that when one of us falls down we must help to lift them back up. That’s what decency and fairness is all about.

“Another thing I have learnt is the absolute value of hard work, of not being wasteful, and the importance of planning for the future. For me, these are enduring values. And these are the values that, as president, I would bring to our nation’s challenges.

“The nation now needs new leadership for the future. The nation now wants new leadership for the future. And today, I am ready to deliver that new leadership for Zambia’s future.”

SP isn’t M’membe’s party

SP isn’t M’membe’s party Featured

The Socialist Party is not Fred M’membe’s party. It’s a poor people’s party. The poor own it. Those who tend to personify the Socialist Party in me as if the poor people who own this party don’t exist, as if only the leader – Fred M’membe – exists have gotten it very wrong. To them the thousands of poor people who work very hard everyday to build this party don’t exist. Only Fred M’membe exists.

Everyday more and more people are showing admiration for the Socialist Party because they see and understand the unwavering course we have pursued, they understand the party’s dignity and serenity. We have gone through very difficult times without making unnecessary mistakes.

We hear all sorts of accusations from our class enemies. Many slanderous things are said, but reality gradually tears such things to shreds. We have gone through very difficult times and we have gotten back on our feet. We have gone up one step and gone down another, but we have gone up two steps in terms of our people’s respect and consideration. To borrow from a song of our Mkushi North Constituency Socialist Party choir, ‘Nangu bameke lelo tukakumana kuma finals pa August 12!’

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

No place for vengeance

No place for vengeance Featured

Several times, I have been asked if I will avenge the injustice meted on me by some individuals in this regime. My response has been a categorical No. But the question keeps on coming up. Why? Is there fear of vengeance? From who against who? And for what? To achieve what?

Let me make it very, very, very clear: there’s no place for injustice in the mind of a revolutionary, no place at all. There’s no place for vengeance in the heart of a revolutionary. You can be very firm in the struggle, but you can’t do it out of hatred.
We are teaching our members ideas of justice; otherwise, our struggle for a more just, fair and humane Zambia is going nowhere. It is only upon such ideas that a more just, fair and humane society can be achieved and sustained. This can only be achieved based on principles, ideas and ethics. It’s the only way.
We believe in people, in human beings, in their capacity to forge ethics, a consciousness, in their capacity for great sacrifices.
In the course of history, we have seen people die for honour, for values they can understand. Someone instilled them with these values. Let the best human values of justice, fairness and humane ness be instilled in our people.
And our intellectuals can play a very important role in this today, because only people with a certain intellectual development can instill fear in heads of those who conspire and work against justice, fairness and humane ness.
We are convinced that a fascist-like regime will never be established, in any lasting fashion, in our country because our people have traditions, ethics and values that will prevent this. That is why those who want to impose a tinpot dictator and a third term on our people have to resort to lies.

We consider ourselves fortunate for having understood that hatred and prejudice are not political weapons. We have political weapons and, in addition to this, experience has taught us that principles are the best possible political weapons.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party

Free and responsible media key to any successful nation – M’membe

Free and responsible media key to any successful nation – M’membe Featured

Today, May 3, 2021, is a day to recognise the essential contribution of journalists and journalism to national and international efforts to achieve justice, equity peace, democracy and diversity.

A free and responsible media is the foundation of any successful nation, and a precursor for social and economic progress and sustainable development. Social and economic development, science and technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, all of these rely on the ideas and new ways of working brought to us by an independent media.
Good governance and media freedom are not mutually exclusive principles, rather they are ‘mutually dependent’. Only when journalists are given the space to operate freely – to observe, ask questions and report, without fear of arbitrary reprisal – can a nation be confident that decision-makers will be held to the highest standards. And only then can we truly be on the path of building a more just, more fair and more humane society, world.

Just as democratic institutions rely on the Third Sector, composed of charities and NGOs who defend the rights of the poor and weak groups, so too do they depend on a responsible, ethically-minded Fourth Estate, made up of well-trained, fair-minded and professional journalists.
At times of conflict, unrest and disaster, journalists are often the first to risk their lives to provide vital information and identify where humanitarian assistance is needed most.
In times of peace, journalists act as messengers, educators and advocates, putting the people’s concerns to the powerful and allowing voters to make informed decisions about who should represent them in office.
The democratic and development dividend created by a free and responsible media is highest when we respect and value the contribution that journalists make.

Today’s attacks on news media’s already tenuous freedom are proliferating. They often come in the form of violence against independent journalists. Those in power also attempt to assert control over media outlets, even if it means shutting them down.
Zambia needs traditional, independent, media to hold the powerful to account. Where independent media is silenced, coerced, or captured, the public has few options for gaining any information beyond the narratives pushed by those in power and special interests. Social-media platforms can play a role, but their main strength – their democratic nature – also has a fatal flaw. They have proved ideal for spreading fake news, which taints public debate and erodes trust in both facts and institutions.

Appetite for fake news is a threat to healthy independent media. While social-media platforms get a lot of attention for their speed and accessibility, a credible free press – one which does not simply parrot the official line of governments or special interests, but rather seeks the truth – remains essential to strengthening accountability in places where it can often be hard to find.
Chronic underfunding squeezes independent media further. Journalists not only lack resources to support their work, they are often so poorly compensated that they become vulnerable to corruption themselves. “Brown envelope, transport refund journalism” – when reporters are paid by individuals or organisations to publish favourable stories – is becoming increasingly commonplace. If traditional independent media are going to fulfil their essential role, they need resources.
Given the importance of a credible free press to both development and democracy, the Socialist Party in government will remove all constraints on press freedom, and create a more favourable financial, economic and political environment for the media to survive and prosper.

The Socialist Party has consistently reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of the media, as a guarantor of freedom of expression.
The Socialist Party will continue to work with and support various institutions
to help them make good on their individual and collective commitments.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party