Tag: Pan Africanism

Politics of Ideas Possible – Not Pangas and Screw Drivers

Politics of Ideas Possible – Not Pangas and Screw Drivers Featured

Today, Zambia stands at a crossroad of a growing culture of violence and intolerance. While the majority of us bury our heads with an illusion that we are a peaceful country, there is a growing well-resourced, well-organised system that has put young people at the centre of the politics of pangas and screw drivers. Increasingly, we as a country are being placed on the world map for the wrong reasons.

We note with sadness that existing political parties have made little effort to none to inculcate idea and value-based politics to equip young people with a deeper and more complex understanding of politics and ideology in a fast-changing world. So far, the Socialist Party stands out in pushing for idea and value-based politics that if emulated could contribute to a truly transformed and exciting political landscape in Zambia. However, the Socialist Party’s journey to push for politics grounded in ideas has not been without challenges.

In 2018, the General Secretary and First vice president of the Socialist Party, Dr Cosmas Musheke Musumali appointed an interim leadership of the Socialist Youth League (SYL). I was assigned the task of General Secretary of the Youth League. That year, I spent most of my free time cris-crossing different compounds in Lusaka along with senior comrades. We mobilized, formed branches, ward and constituency structures. All the while, my fellow young comrades and I were just happy and often clumsy participants. During that period, we had one task, to learn!

In July of the same year, senior party comrades decided that we had learnt enough, and it was time for us to get on the ground, to mobilize the youth and coordinate at a National Level. The Socialist Party president, Comrade Dr Fred M’membe asked us to draft a youth program which we would use for the next couple of months. That cloudy and windy day in July could easily pass for the first day of the summer. Excitement was definitely an understatement. In our minds, we would go on to build a youth movement that would have left the grass root organizers of Chachacha days red with envy. Armed with socialist ideology, patriotism and flirtations with pan Africanism, we were convinced that we would win over the majority of Zambia’s youth. That together, we would build a better country and continent for ourselves. As the Youth Collective then, we were convinced we would achieve our objective of building sustainable structures of the Youth League across all provinces within the space of five (5) months.

To this day, I am not sure if that goal was simply ambitious or the naivety of the teenagers, as we were then. But what we also know from history and our liberation is that young people in those movements were equipped ideologically to independence.

In August 2018, we began our work. We made our phone calls, and only one constituency was ready to start working with us immediately. That month, we formed our first youth structure in Kanyama, Chibolya Compound to be specific. It was a very interesting experience. As the months wore on, we gained momentum. We formed more structures; these were not void of challenges and mistakes but we kept moving.

In 2019, we set out to carry on our first titanic task that would be our vision to contribute to politics of ideas for a better Zambia. We were going to start a free tuition program for our members who were writing their Grade 12 or GCE Examinations. Our education system is designed in such a way that many pupils in government schools don’t have sufficient hours to learn, not enough teachers, often empty libraries and several other factors that make it hard for the pupils in government schools to pass their exams. We were determined to make sure the members of the Youth League from humble backgrounds would all clear their GCE or Grade 12 examinations.

That August we initiated our pilot project in ward 10, Kanyama. We convinced two of our senior comrades, who were also teachers, to give up a few hours of their weekends to teach these classes. We secured one white board from our Party offices. A Comrade offered their home for our activity. We asked another for money, to buy some markers, another comrade offered some more money, which we spent on water for the teachers and participants. We drew up a program. That first Saturday of August, we gathered our young members and the program kick started with lesson 1 in Mathematics. That first day was a proud moment for us. We left our Kanyama youth coordinator in charge, and decided to not visit the next class and instead get a report the following weekend.

The next weekend, I received a call from our Kanyama coordinator telling me he had dispersed all learners. He told me some of our comrades had been attacked by Cadres and it was not safe, before I could ask any questions he hang up. I called him back severally, his phone went unanswered. My heart sank. Worse off, I had no idea what was going on and who was hurt. A couple of hours later he called and told me that the attack wasn’t on the young comrades, instead, senior comrades were having an unrelated but quiet meeting in a different part of the constituency. He explained that some cadres from a different party heard of the meeting, and decided to disrupt it. They arrived in typical disappointing cadre fashion. In a bus, drunk, armed with pangas, screw drivers and machetes. They arrived where our senior’s comrades were meeting and disorganized their meeting. They broke windows, knocked heads and stabbed a few of our senior comrades with screw drivers. They had blocked the entrance; senior comrades were forced jump over the wall fence and run for dear life.

Needless to say, our pilot project was immediately cancelled. We were promptly informed that if some cadres from that party found out that we were running such a program in that area, they would put a stop to it with pangas before it gained attraction of the community. Cancelling this noble cause of ideas broke our hearts to but we soldiered on. Before that fateful day, I thought the politics of pangas and screw drivers was nothing but senseless clashing between overzealous and foolish youth. I would later learn that it’s a well-oiled, heavily funded and calculated system. A comrade who used to be a Commander in some party would one day sit me down, and explain this complex system to me. From the dispatch of weapons, to the flow of cash. There is a hierarchy, a system of communication and chess like moves are employed. The goal is to ensure that all would be political opponents are too afraid to mobilise. The result, one party dominates an area. Not that the people don’t like any other party, but they are left almost without options. Nonetheless, we kept moving.

We are no longer as naive to think organising or mobilising will be a walk in the park. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful and optimistic that it is possible to build a better country with a youth grounded in progressive knowledge and ideas for real change.

A progressive wave has dawned in Africa, declares M’membe

A progressive wave has dawned in Africa, declares M’membe

Speaking at the Founder’s Day celebrations in Winneba, Ghana on Friday, September 21, 2018, Dr Fred M’membe declared that Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s socialist revolutionary ideas were on the resurgence.
Extolling Dr Nkrumah’s revolutionary leadership and ideas, Dr M’membe, who is the 2021 presidential candidate of the Socialist Party (Zambia), said the progressive socialist wave had dawned on the African continent.

Below is the full speech by Dr M’membe:

Revolutionaries never die, Nkrumah lives in us!
Those who thought Nkrumah is dead, they should realise that wherever there is a crucifixion, there is always a resurrection.

Nkrumah is with us right here today. The ideas of Nkrumah will live forever, they will live forever in us, they are here today in his homeland of Ghana. Those who thought we were totally defeated and that was the end of Nkrumah’s ideas were mistaken. The revolutionary process started by Nkrumah six decades ago is being resurrected today, right here in Ghana.

Capitalism has no answer to the problems facing humanity today. Capitalism cannot deal with the problem of inequality that is crippling the world today; capitalism cannot deal with the issue of unemployment that is crippling the world today! Every year in winter they go to Davos in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum; what do they discuss in there? They discuss growing inequality in the world, they discuss growing unemployment in the world!

But every year they come from Davos without answers to these problems, without solutions to these challenges. This is so because the answers to these problems and solutions to these challenges do not lie in capitalism. In fact, what they are trying to do is to square a circle. To find solutions to these problems and challenges they have to destroy capitalism, and they are not ready to do so. We are ready to do so; and we are starting here in Ghana to do so.

Imperialism has reached its highwater mark. Today a new revolutionary wave starts here, right here in Ghana; they will not defeat us this time, we are better equipped with Nkrumah’s ideas, Cabral’s ideas, Chavez ideas, Fidel’s ideas, Mao’s ideas, Lenin’s ideas, Karl Marx’s ideas.

We are coming for you! We are coming for you! And there’s no pulling punches.
We are more revolutionary than six decades ago; we are more experienced than six decades ago. And we are more in numbers than six decades ago. In this hall today, we have over 60 nations represented, covering all continents. Can we fail? We won’t fail!

Comrades, those who thought Nkrumah’s ideas were dead, what they didn’t realise is that these were revolutionary ideas. You can’t kill revolutionary ideas whose time has come. It was time for these revolutionary ideas 60 years ago; it is still time for these revolutionary ideas today.

Since 1945 when the PanAfrican Congress was held in Manchester, we didn’t have this type of gathering, not even the OAU assembled so many nations in one place. If imperialists are as intelligent as they claim to be, they will today realise that something is changing on this continent. Something big is happening and they will not be able to stop it. They will not be able to stop this progressive wave.

History is not always in a straight forward direction, there’re often gigantic leaps backward. We have suffered our leaps backwards, we have had our calvary. We’re now coming for you! We’re coming for you! And victory is certain! We will not do it with guns but with ideas – Nkrumah’s ideas, Cabral’s ideas, Fidel’s ideas, Chavez’s ideas! We’ll do it with all the ideas of the revolutionaries of our past and our present!

Their concerted efforts to bury Nkrumah’s ideas with his body have failed. We’re today much more aware of Nkrumah’s ideas than we were before. When they realised that they were failing to bury Nkrumah’s ideas, what did they do? They started to create a new Nkrumah for us, a Nkrumah who was not a socialist, a Nkrumah who was not a communist, a Nkrumah who they called a PanAfricanist; meaning something else.

Today we are here to reclaim, to redefine and to chart a new path for the Nkrumah we know, a Nkrumah who is socialist, a Nkrumah who is communist. There was a time when it was difficult to say ‘I am a socialist’ on this continent, when it was difficult to say ‘ I am a communist’. Comrades, today I stand before you to tell you that I’m a socialist! I’m a communist who is a son of Nkrumah, who is a grandson of Nkrumah, who is a great grandson of Nkrumah!

Comrades, this progressive socialist wave will not be stopped! We are back in Ghana to draw our inspiration, to recharge our revolutionary batteries, to re dedicate ourselves to the African struggle for socialism, which is not only the struggle for Africa, but a struggle for the whole world.
We are with the whole world in Ghana here today. Those who have got ears should listen to what we are saying; those who have got eyes should see that our actions are determined, our ideas are clear! We’re resolute with everything that we are saying and which we are doing!

We’re not here to reform capitalism; we’re here to build a socialist future for our continent and the whole world. We’re here to continue what Nkrumah struggled for and died for. We’re here again because Nkrumah lives in us!

Comrades, we cannot continue on this neoliberal capitalist path. The population of Ghana today is 24 million people and at a growth rate of more than 2 per cent, the population of Ghana is likely to double in the next 15-20 years. Where are the jobs going to come from, given Ghana’s today’s unemployment rate and capitalism’s inability to create jobs? Where will housing come from in 15 to 20 years-time when the population of Ghana doubles? How are they going to live?
Can capitalism give answers to these problems? The answer is a categorical NO!

For many years, we are given examples of how Ghana is doing very well in terms of neo-liberal capitalism. What has changed? Are the conditions of the Ghanaian people today better than they were 20 years ago? Are they going to be better in 20 years-time under capitalism? Again, the answer is a categorical NO!

We are proud to be associated with Nkrumah! We’re proud to be Nkrumah’s followers! We’re proud to be Nkrumah’s children! We’re proud to be Nkrumah’s disciples! We’re proud to be socialists! We’re proud to be communists!