Friday, 7 October 2011

Zambia's white Vice President and his racial opinions

The veteran politician and Zambia’s new Vice Dr. Guy Scott had made quite baffling assertions in an interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper - Tuesday’s edition (4/10/2011). We have known Guy Scott for many years and frankly, there is nothing astounding about his colour. In fact we have known him as a Zambian muzungu (Zambian white). He represents a small group of whites who have consistently lived in Zambia since the colonial days. Usually such families will have only the parents living in Zambia after their children emigrated back to the “mother country”. However, it seems that indeed this individual has colonial hang-over. In the said interview, Scott was of the view that he was elected due to the fact that: “People are nostalgic, not for exploitation and division, but for the standards of colonial times. When you went to the hospital there was medicine, when you went to schools there were books, when you went to the shops there were goods to buy.” Now what kind of hogwash is this? We the members of the Social Democratic Congress (SDC) unequivocally state that this romantic version of colonial rule never existed in Zambia as our people were made to buy food and other essential commodities through pigeon holes at the back of shops; were denied education and remained illiterate and disenfranchised. Scott must not lie to the world about colonialism in Zambia. The United Nations Mission to Zambia in 1964 noted that 73% of African males and 93% of African females over the age of 16 were illiterate, meaning that they had not completed at least four years of primary school education. For a population of about 3.4 million people, there were less than 10,000 hospital beds, less than 700 nurses and less than 400 doctors. Now which heaven on earth is Scott referring to?

We would like to remind Guy Scott that the youth who voted for his party, the Patriotic Front (PF), do not have any inkling of what colonialism entailed, later on the One-Party state of Kenneth Kaunda. Many of us in the SDC were born in the 1960s and grew up in a prosperous Zambia where we were taught to be proud of being black. This was before Kaunda became obsessed with power. We do not subscribe to the misguided notion of “white is right”. Therefore it is quite dangerous for him to peddle bizarre racial opinions - willy-nilly. He must take care and refrain from such inflammatory statements. We would like to remind him that Vice-Presidents have come and gone in Zambia, and that there is nothing special about him. Moreover, he forms part of the club of retirees who are running our country today. But our time is coming.

Abash baas mentality Abash!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The signs of an autocrat

Zambia now has a new president in the name of Michael Chilufya Sata. However, there is nothing new about the septuagenarian politician who has literally held a post in every regime – from the United National Independence Party (UNIP) era, Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) and now the Patriotic Front (PF). There is also nothing new about his politics which are in the main those of ethnicity. This is clearly attested by his cabinet which mostly comprises his tribesmen and women. Lastly, there is nothing new about his cabinet as some of these “new” officials were in the first government of Kenneth Kaunda of 1964. This “new” government is full of old relics. So those youths who had voted for “change” did not do the country any favour. Zambia shall continue going nowhere slowly with this “new” crowd. But what is characteristic of Michael Sata is his gruff approach to life and politics. He has also strong autocratic tendencies which were exhibited during his reign as Lusaka Governor in the 1980s during UNIP’s rule and as a minister in the MMD government. Recently, this behaviour came to the fore when he woke up on Tuesday and re-named all the major airports in Zambia. This was done without any consultation with the country’s citizens (who are its major stakeholders), Parliament or any other state institutions. He went on to assert that he did this with “immediate effect”. In a democracy, a public official, later on a president cannot carry out major societal changes without consulting the citizenry. Zambia is a democracy and we fought hard for this democracy. It is not a one-party state dictatorship or a one man show! People are going hungry to bed, poverty is on the rise, maternal and child mortality rates are on the increase and the first thing this man does when he is sworn into office is to re-name airports? God help us all. We are indeed going for a bumpy ride in Zambia! However, we in the Social Democratic Congress (SDC) have seen this circus before during the reign of Frederick Chiluba. So we are merely steeling ourselves. Aluta continua!    

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Sports mediocrity continues unabated in Zambia

The 10th All Africa games which just ended in Mozambique again saw Zambian athletes exhibiting high levels of mediocrity. Zambia only managed to win three bronze medals. This pales in comparison to South Africa’s haul of 158 medals. What a disaster! It was also sobering to see Mozambique host these games with quite sophisticated sports infrastructure adding to the flair of the competition. This is after Zambia failed to host the last games after bidding to host them in the first place. The reason for this was that Zambia did not have adequate infrastructure and that it could not build modern sports facilities in time. Mind you, Mozambique is a country which had suffered decades of civil war whilst Zambia has been a “haven” of “peace” and “stability”. Why do the sports authorities and the government continue to send under performing athletes to regional, continental and international competitions just to embarrass us? We of the Social Democratic Congress (SDC) are fully aware that the country has a huge reservoir of talent which is not properly tapped and nurtured. The sports authorities do know how to prioritise and focus on comparative advantage in regard to which events the country could surely reap dividends. Let us take the swimming team. This team has never won any medal at any major event – ever, and yet sports authorities keep on sending these “swimmers” who are ironically only white (one wonders where they scrape them from?) to various competitions. It is not healthy for a nation to constantly lose at every event when it can do better. Zambians have just been reduced to losers and whipping boys and girls at major sports events. If this half-baked performance is all the country has to show for, what more of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games? It is noteworthy that these so-called athletes use tax-payers money for their travel, allowances and upkeep. Perhaps, it would not be so far-fetched to suggest that a moratorium be put in place until such a time that the country has high-quality athletes who will bring glory to the country. We are sick and tired of this charade!  

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A nation desrves its leaders

As Zambians prepare to go to the polls in the coming month, we the members of the Social Democratic Congress (SDC) unequivocally state that (with the obtaining material conditions) the nation deserves its current crop of leaders. Indeed, with a multitude of illiterate, ill-informed and ethnically-based voters, the nation is not spoilt for choice in terms of visionary and quality leadership. We say so because the frontrunners in the presidential elections being the incumbent, Rupiah Banda and the leading opposition contender, Michael Sata are of a by-gone era and with due respect cannot execute modern-age democratic governance. They are also in the twilight of their years as both are 74 years old. We believe that whoever wins these elections, Zambia’s development trajectory will not be significantly altered – in short it will be business as usual or even worse. We want to put this on record for posterity. But one wonders whether this sate of affairs does favour ancient politicians and not dynamic and young visionaries? This calibre of politicians would deliriously celebrate when the World Bank classifies Zambia as a low middle income country. On the other hand the SDC sets its goals of making Zambia one of the top 10 performing economies in the world - not in Africa, not in the developing world, not in middle income countries, but in the world! We believe that it can be done! Whatever the case may be the SDC membership firstly believes that it has a moral duty to stand up and be counted and chart a new course of action in Zambian politics. Secondly, it firmly believes that no matter what the obstacles are, one day – when the material conditions are right, the SDC will rule Zambia and take into the future. Zambia is our country and we have a citizenry responsibility to make it a better place. Our time will come.  

Monday, 25 July 2011

Famine in the Horn of Africa

Again, the world is treated to the spectre of famine on the African continent. The images of dying children with distended bellies, falling hair and thread-bare skins continue to be beamed around the globe whilst African leaders meet to discuss on how to prop up dictators like Muammar Gaddafi. All over the world, hungry, ragged and malnourished Africans are depicted in newspapers and televisions. In 1995 there was the live aid campaign that saw western pop stars signing for food donations to Africa whilst politicians sat back and continued to misrule their countries. Without a doubt this can no longer be tolerated. There is need for a new generation of African leaders to come to the fore and deal with these problems of food insecurity and general poverty and squalor of African people. These images are indeed good tidings for the racists who have constantly argued that Africans and black people world over are sub-human. Well little do such ignorant bigots know about the Great Famine of Ireland (1845 and 1852)? We the people of Africa deserve better and need all these old men who should be playing with their grand-children to vacate office and leave the running of their countries to young, committed and vibrant Africans.

Now whilst innocent people die from hunger, Somalia, (where most of the affected people are located) is battle zone. Why? No body knows any more. Armed gangs and militias and extremist such as Al-Shabab continue to hamper relief efforts in the area. These groups just continue to kill and maim people for no apparent reason. We as the SDC are tired of the famines and pestilence in Africa! We the SDC are tired of the same old pictures showing dying hungry children in Africa! We are tired of Africa being seen as the world’s hopeless case when it has so much potential. Why is the African Union (AU) silent? Why is the AU only vigilant when it comes to futile political endeavours such as those in Ivory Coast or Libya, which were meant to keep dictators in power for example? Enough is enough. Africa needs a paradigm shift. The SDC calls for progressive Africans to arise and deal with this charade once and for all!


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Zambia a nation of losers?

This week we ask ourselves this critical question: is Zambia a nation of losers? We ask this question because wherever one casts a glance around the country nothing seems to be working. The other day CNN was covering Zambia and it was not pleasant to say the least. It is like Zambia is a country that is full of mud huts and shanty compounds with no beautiful places at all. Yes CNN might have been biased but what can Zambia offer to the world something else that is not fitting this picture? It looks like development continues to elude the Zambian people. Even the much touted economic growth that the country is supposedly experiencing is mainly enjoyed by foreigners who exploit our mineral wealth and externalise the profits to their mother country - with no add-value to the Zambian society. The so-called jobs that are being created by this sector are at the lower end, that is, only unskilled labourers are employed with a few exceptions of Zambians in management positions. The bulk of engineers and technicians are foreign or expatriates. The little infrastructure that is sprouting up here and there, in the form of housing or internationally sub-standard shopping malls, are being overseen by foreigners who are in most cases less qualified and less experienced than most Zambians. To add insult to injury, these so called expatriates do not have an understanding of local issues as they just jet in and dispense their prescription without undertaking a diagnostic analysis. So it is back to square one as we were in 1964 when Zambia was a mere neo-colony and not an independent state.

If we use a proxy of sport, the question above is sharply brought home. Zambia has never won a gold medal at the Olympics, later on the Commonwealth Games. But every time these games take place, Zambia sends a contingent of sports men and women who not only make a good job of embarrassing themselves but the whole country. We have become so used to losing that no one even raises a storm when our athletes return home (early) without wining a medal. The shoddy performance is repeated every time there are these events and no one seems to care. For sure, we had the Simon Matete’s of this world. This patriotic Zambian was the only one who won any significant medal at the Olympic Games – a Silver Medal. But as usual, this son of the soil was never honoured by his country and government. In fact they tried very hard to ignore him at all cost despite winning various races at very prestigious events. Zambia seems to always have misplaced priorities.

However, we in the SDC refuse to accept that we are a nation of losers. When we just examine the number of Zambians all over the world we discover that most of them are playing leading roles at prestigious and reputable institutions. Indeed Zambians are trail blazers. However, most of them are not even recognised in their own country. The Zambian government would rather pay lots of money to be ill advised by some half baked foreign “expert” than seek advice from its competent country men and women who would provide it with high quality inputs. The problem is that there is so much negativity in the country that is manifested in the “Pull Him/Her Down - PHD” syndrome. Whenever there is a shining star in the country, all forces emerge to extinguish it. Whenever talented people try to articulate themselves and excel, they are dragged into the gutter. Then the stage is left for useless, moribund and mediocre people who become the face of Zambia either in beauty pageants, sport, politics, etc. In the end our country continues to be a laughing stock amongst the fraternity of serious and progressive nations, and a nonentity in international affairs. The SDC vows to create a nation of winners where merit will be king. These things are not difficult as they can be done!  

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Spectre of Recycled Politicians in Zambia

Zambia is plagued by a negative and recurring phenomenon in the political arena which can best be described as recycled politicians. The former are persons who have been involved in Zambian politics for decades and served under various administrations from independence in 1964, to the present time. They were party to past decisions that the country had made in matters of national development and other critical areas. Some of these decisions were so detrimental to mother Zambia that they have left indelible scars on our country. These are people who have praised former presidents only to later decry their policies after they were given positions by another president. Recycled politicians have survived the political whirlwinds because in most cases they are bereft of ideology or even principles.

Is it any wonder that Zambia seems to be stuck in low gear and cannot accelerate its development? Having such politicians taking the lead in Zambia’s politics is not only sad but tragic. These politicians are tired and moribund, but our society allows them to keep on peddling expired development recipes. The critical question to ask is: if these people did nothing of significance in their prime, what can they achieve when they are supposed to be retired? They failed dismally to provide solutions to Zambia’s development challenges when they were young and yet they think they have something to offer in these modern times? Now when they are supposed to be playing with their grand children or enjoying their retirement, they want to grapple with the challenges of a modern and globalising world? It is just not possible. Some of these politicians do not even know how to operate a computer – later on use the internet! What add-value do these politicians bring to the country? Instead of innovation, creativity or ingenuity, the only thing they bring to the table is their so-called experience. Unfortunately, this is experience in doing wrong things! Instead of debating issues, these politicians employ old strong-armed tactics of physically beating up opponents or falling back on tribal ties to drive their point home. Surely, does Zambia need such dead-wood when other countries have young and dynamic leaders? Just look at the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister of that country was born in 1966 – just 45 years; the Deputy Prime Minister was born in 1967 – just 44 years. These men are leading one of the most powerful countries in the world. Across the Atlantic in the United Sates of America, the president, Barack Obama was born in 1961 and he is going to turn 50 this year. Obama is the leader of the world’s only superpower.

Alas, in Zambia old men (as women are not given a chance) have continued to occupy the public sector as well as the political space at every level and relegated many Zambians who are middle-aged (for example 43, 44, 45 and even 47 year olds) to youth portfolios. How can a person who was born in 1966 be a youth leader? This is ludicrous. In the UK and USA the leaders of these two countries are middle aged. This is how ridiculous politics is in Zambia. Young talent is crippled at every level as these retirees clamour for positions without any thing new to offer. They still approach things as they did in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s. This is one of the reasons why Zambia is not moving forward in matters of development as the offered formulae, by the recycled politicians, are outmoded. We are not in any way suggesting that old people are useless. But it is important to highlight the fact that many of these politicians’ compatriots in other fields (and progressive countries) retired decades ago and passed the baton to the younger and more vibrant generations. Why shouldn’t Zambian politicians learn from this? Why do they continue to recycle themselves when they have nothing new to offer? This is the dilemma that is facing Zambia. Due to this problem, high quality, dynamic and young Zambians choose not to participate in politics.

The SDC will make sure that it harnesses and nurtures young talent in its structures.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Recalling Patrice Lumumba

This week we re-cast light on one of Africa’s great sons who was also a gallant champion of the anti-colonial struggle, Patrice Émery Lumumba. Lumumba’s government had only lasted seven months before it was toppled by the imperialist, neo-colonialist, tribalist and reactionary forces. Lumumba and his two colleagues would be shot by firing squad and their bodies chopped into pieces and pulverised with concentrated sulphuric acid. What did this son of Africa do that was so terrible to disserve such a cruel and horrific death?  The answer is nothing. Lumumba only wanted to see his people free in a united Congo. That is all.  Lumumba was killed by the Belgians and their lackeys just because they saw him as a “cheeky nigger” and an “upstart”. For the tribalist Congolese, Lumumba was seen as a threat to their selfish and narrow-minded agendas. They were also jealous of this articulate and confident African (as usual, Africans have a propensity of pulling down their shining stars and propelling mediocre individuals to higher heights). Patrice Lumumba was born on 2 July 1925 and assassinated on 17 January 1961. He was just 36 years old when he died.

The conspiracy to murder Lumumba was hatched primarily by Belgium and then endorsed by the United States of America. It also had tacit approval from most Western powers. The United Nations Organisation was also complicit to this murder with its Secretary General the late Dag Hammarskjöld being extremely unhelpful to Lumumba and his government. Declassified documents reveal that the president of the United States, at the time, Dwight Eisenhower, through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), had sanctioned the assassination of Lumumba. On the other side of the Atlantic, H.F.T. Smith, who later headed MI5 (The United Kingdom’s counter-intelligence and security agency), wrote: “I see only two possible solutions to the problem. The first is the simple one of ensuring Lumumba’s removal from the scene by killing him. This should in fact solve the problem….”*

Lumumba’s shadow continues to loom large over the Congo and Africa, because of his colossal persona and profound sincerity - which he carried to his grave. Whilst in custody and facing death, Patrice Lumumba remained steadfast in his beliefs and ideals. He was neither cowed nor broken, in spite of his impending demise. He also reiterated his love for his country. Lumumba’s last act was to write a letter to his wife. We have extracted certain parts below:

My beloved companion,

I write you these words not knowing whether you will receive them, when you will receive them, and whether I will be alive when you read them. Throughout my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant that the sacred cause to which my comrades and I have dedicated our entire lives would triumph in the end. But what we wanted for our country – its right to an honourable life, to perfect dignity, to independence with no restrictions - was never wanted by Belgian colonialism and its Western allies, who found direct and indirect, international and unintentional support among certain senior officials at the United Nations, that body which we placed all our trust when we called it for help.....

Neither brutal assaults, nor cruel mistreatment, nor torture have led me to beg for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head held high, unshakeable faith and the greatest confidence in the destiny of my country rather than live in slavery and contempt for sacred principles….

Do not weep for me, my companion, I know that my country, now suffering so much, will be able to defend its independence and its freedom. Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!*

How can a man of such valour and honour be killed in such a brutal way? Why was Lumumba hated so much, when he gave so much to his country and citizens – including his life? After Lumumba was illegally removed by his adversaries, Joseph Mobutu was installed as the new leader of Congo. Mobutu’s regime was one of the most depraved on the continent, yet at every turn it was propped up by the West, especially the United States. Mobutu pillaged the nation’s wealth with impunity and literally drove it into an abyss of untold despair and misery.

Leaders like Lumumba are a rare breed in Africa - where despots and tyrants thrive. We are not in any way suggesting that Lumumba was a saint. He was only human and had his faults, however, when one looks at his commitment (even in the face of death) one cannot but wonder what would have happened to the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo – DRC) if Lumumba had not been killed? We are only left to speculate. We then come to the question: why are we Africans plagued with moribund leaders? Why are we so cursed? From North Africa to Southern Africa, the continent is littered with tyrants, despots, dictators, you name it. Then there is the spectre of geriatrics, octogenarians and septuagenarians presiding over a very young and youthful continent. When these old men relinquish power it is only to hand it over to their children (always sons). 

The SDC says no to this African malaise! We assert that Africa must be free from these tyrants and useless leaders. Long live the spirit of Patrice Lumumba! Long live the ideals of Patrice Lumumba!

*Cited from: The Assassination of Lumumba. By Ludo De Witte (2001). London: Verso.

A pensive young and charismatic Lumumba

Lumumba before he was killed

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The SDC on gender and national development

The relations between women and men in Zambia are such that women - in daily interactions and social transactions - are always designated subordinate and subservient roles by societal norms and mores. The plight of Zambian women continues to be worrisome as the majority of our womenfolk are excluded from the country’s life chances such as quality education, quality health care and decent work. In the main, structural forces are central in impeding women from advancing in our society. Archaic traditions embedded in patriarchy are also major stumbling-blocks to women’s advancement in Zambia. The SDC firmly believes that women are the central pillar of Zambia’s development and their talents must not only to be valued, but must also be harnessed for the overall development of the country. That is why the SDC is the only party in Zambia which accords women an equal footing in all its endeavours – so that they play critical and meaningful roles in Zambia’s political processes.

The current political scenario where women’s roles have been reduced to, among others, demeaning activities like dancing at campaign rallies, is not condoned by the SDC. Women have vital roles to play in Zambian politics and the SDC will make sure that they play decisive roles in the political arena. Women are literally the life-blood of our country and the SDC will make bold moves to eradicate all conditions that enfeeble, demean and marginalise them. It is shocking that in this day and age we find that the majority of Zambian women are exposed to hunger, die in large numbers during child birth or are constantly foraging for food. Women continue to remain unemployed, poor and illiterate, and exposed to life-threatening conditions such as gender-based violence.
This is unacceptable 46 years after independence! The SDC will put a stop to this through a decisive political will that will be translated into bold policies and legislation. In order to ensure that women’s issues remain at the forefront of national development efforts, the SDC will, once in power, mainstream the gender dimension in all of Zambia’s institutions. This means that all policies and legislation will have an in-built gender dimension. There is also a need to make sure that gender is mainstreamed into school curricula where our children will be sensitised over gender issues from an early age. All primitive and archaic traditions such as sexual cleansing, wife inheriting and grabbing of widows’ properties will be outlawed and criminalised once the SDC is in power. Severe penalties will be meted out to perpetrators of such acts – which are basically an affront to the dignity and self-worth of Zambian women.   

Based on the above understandings, the SDC does not have a women’s league or any other separate section for women as they are mainstreamed into all party structures. This stance is in line with the notion that women are equal partners to their male counterparts in the development of Zambia. Having women in adjunct structures serves to reinforce the discrimination of women in Zambian politics. Thus the SDC has deviated from this prevailing norm in the country. If there are no Men’s Leagues in political parties why should there be Women’s Leagues? 

Like the African grey dove on our flag, let Zambian women soar to higher heights. Long live Zambian women long live!

Why is Zambia backward?

This is the question of the decade dear compatriots and patriots. Why is our country so backward? From a rickety infrastructure system to a single rail line serving a country of a landmass area of 752, 614 km²; decrepit hospitals, clinics, schools and derelict universities, among others - one can easily see why the country is backward. Our hospitals are death zones whilst the elite and ruling political bourgeoisie go for medical treatment to South Africa and Europe. They are so shameless that they even announce to the nation: “We are airlifting so and so to South Africa.” Whilst the mass of our people continue to die from curable diseases, the elites go abroad for medical treatment on the account of the Zambian tax payers! Back to the question: Why is mother Zambia so backward?  The first issue is that Zambia has been cursed with a leadership that always approaches matters of governance with no sense of urgency, purpose or desire to create a modern society. Probably in the first decade of independence there was some semblance of the aforementioned. Overall, almost three decades of the country’s independence have been confined to mediocre rule.

Now therein lies the answer fellow compatriots. Mediocre leaders do not have the capacity or ability to grasp the quintessential elements of modern governance. Probably they would do better presiding over a medieval court. To answer the above question: Zambia is backward because first and foremost, it has not heavily invested in science and technology. Yes, science and technology has been missing in Zambia’s development pursuits for a long time. There seems to be almost a reluctance to have a scientifically driven development agenda by the state. However, science and technology has been the key driver in human advancement and socio-economic progress across the globe for 200 years. We need a technological revolution in Zambia as we can ill afford to live as if we are in the dark ages when other societies are light years ahead of us. Zambia cannot just lay back and expect “foreign investors” to come and kick-start the technological revolution. We have to define and then chart our technological trajectory. Zambia cannot be deemed as a “powerhouse” (as some quarters have lately erroneously noted in the Zambian press) because there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise being set up in the country. No! This is terribly misleading. Zambia can only be a “power house” if it has sound and modern infrastructure, modern working roads and advanced telecommunications – which can all be realised through a strategic science and technology agenda.

Zambia has got the potential to light up the whole of Southern and Central Africa if its hydroelectric power is harnessed and then exploited to the fullest using science and technology. What is the key? It has the resource: water. Zambia has got the potential to feed the rest of Africa if science and technology is geared towards agricultural production, research and innovation. What is the key? It has the natural resources and nature’s endowments: land, water, sunshine and good climatic conditions. But this is not enough. Land cannot plough itself nor can water turn itself into hydroelectricity. People have to work. Zambians must be encouraged to work for their country. The government must create conditions that will allow Zambians to work hard. It is only through hard work that the country can move forward. However, without science and technology backing up such processes it will be like whistling in the wind!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Recalling Thomas Sankara

This week we remember that gallant son of Africa who was killed by his so-called best friend Blaise Compaoré and other reactionary forces two decades ago. Thomas Sankara died under a hail of bullets on 15 October 1987 in a bloody putsch that was supposedly launched to fight Sankara’s misrule. Born on 21 December 1949 Captain Thomas Isidore Noёl Sankara was a charismatic, Pan-Africanist and anti-imperialist leader who came to power in 1983 via a popular bloodless revolution that toppled a moribund military dictatorship. Upon assuming power, Sankara and his compatriots went on to undertake wide-ranging and radical reforms which saw the status of women being elevated to unprecedented heights, corruption vigorously tackled on all fronts; education standards were also raised whilst agricultural production was increased. Privileges for the traditional leadership were heavily curtailed during the reign of Sankara. The country’s name was changed from the colonial relic of Upper Volta to Burkina Faso - Land of Upright Men. In many ways Sankara’s revolution was modelled along the lines of the Cuban revolution. He sought after the transformation of his country through profound social and economic reforms.

Sankara was a beacon of hope to most of Africa but faced opposition from puppet regimes as well as other neo-colonial elements in his region. He was an upright and indeed incorruptible man. Furthermore, most African presidents were uncomfortable with Sankara’s leadership style as he put them to shame. Sankara’s almost Spartan type of existence was a misnomer in Africa where leaders sent their children to lavish and expensive European schools whilst schools at home lay in disrepair with poorly paid teacher. These are the same leaders who went to European hospitals with their families for medical treatment whilst their own hospitals remained derelict and with no medicines whilst underpaid and abused doctors tried in vain to treat people. This situation still continues today in Africa as leaders plunder their countries’ wealth with impunity. But Sankara never plundered his nation’s wealth or carted it away to European or American Banks. He never led an opulent or ostentatious lifestyle like most African leaders - in an ocean of poverty, deprivation and human misery. Sankara shied away from the trappings of power: he refused to have his portrait hung in public buildings; he lowered his salary; he refused to have his office air conditioned and he even sometimes used to hitch a plane ride, citing his country’s poverty and its inability to buy a presidential jet plane as the reason!

Sankara has been described as a romantic due to his simplicity and affable nature. He was an easy going person and modest to the core - even when he was president. He would be seen jogging or riding a bike by himself or going about playing his guitar. By the time of his death his remaining possessions were his guitar and old Renault 5 - which incidentally was his official car - a fridge and broken freezer. This was at a time when the rest of African leaders were cruising in Mercedes or other fancy cars; living in luxury villas and accruing all sorts of property for themselves at the expense of the toiling masses. Since Sankara’s death, Compaoré has gone on to corruptly amass enormous wealth and has thwarted all efforts aimed at democratic change. He has rigged elections and has reversed all the gains that were made by Sankara.

Lessons for Zambia

There are many lessons Zambian politicians as well as ordinary citizens can derive from the life and leadership of Thomas Sankara. We, the members of the SDC salute Sankara for reminding us the virtues of simplicity and honesty through his exemplary but short life. We emphatically assert: THOMAS SANKARA LIVES!  

                                           Thomas Sankara - How we remember him 

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Arrested Development - A Zambian and African Story

Even though the majority of Zambia’s development pitfalls are self-inflicted, we acknowledge the fact that others are creations of both historical and outside forces - notably those of slavery, colonial domination and neo-colonialism. However, what is of critical importance is that when this issue is highlighted by Zambians later on Africans, it is mistakenly taken as self-admission to our supposed inferiority as well as our inability to rise up to the occasion in order to determine our future. This may also be misconstrued by many detractors of Africa’s progress that we are admitting to the fact that we are unable to take our rightful place amongst other nations so as to extricate ourselves from all forms of human deprivation. However, the owning up to our shortcomings is essential for the final thrust of Zambia’s and indeed Africa’s liberation. Hollow excuses by our past leaders are what got us to this present state of underdevelopment, several decades after independence. But lest this be taken as a sign of weakness then let it be known that this is not the case as we have not forgotten what impeded and continues to stifle our county’s and Africa’s development. Even though numerous works have touched on these issues, contemporary discourses tend to skim over them and always want to treat Africa’s underdevelopment as an original state. Rarely do these works point out that Africa’s current development dilemmas are deeply embedded in what is referred to here as arrested development. Rarely are these harped on or recited because they would put to shame the various doomsayers. Yes, evidence does show that Africans were and continue to be (consciously, unwittingly or otherwise) victims of a global system that is best suited when Africa is poor and downtrodden so that it is continuously exploited for its natural resources and its people remain objects of perpetual ridicule!

Friday, 25 March 2011

What we stand for!

The SDC stands for peace, tolerance, social justice, freedom and democracy, rule of law, fair play, human rights and social solidarity. Our motto “united in vision and action” recognises our collective efforts aimed at transforming Zambia into a modern and prosperous democratic society. We thus share the same vision for a prosperous society that is underpinned by peace, tolerance, social justice, freedom and democracy as well as the rule of law; fair play, human rights and social solidarity.  The SDC hopes to propel Zambia into the future by totally severing ties with the country’s archaic politics and by overhauling all of the country’s institutions. This undertaking will lay a firm foundation upon which the total transformation of the Zambian society will transpire. The SDC is asking Zambians from all the nine provinces and in the Diaspora to embark with the party on this brave journey that will culminate in a viable, prosperous and modern nation and whose citizens will be proud and truly free from hunger, destitution, marginalisation, disease, ignorance and tribalism.

We are mindful that the task at hand is enormous and will require not only sacrifice, innovative thinking, perseverance and commitment on our part, but also, and crucially, depend on the support of Zambians who are willing to embark upon this ambitious journey with us. In order to build a new and prosperous country, we are asking for a pact with the Zambian people, so that we create a new political dispensation in our country. Those who wish to join us should have a genuine desire to fundamentally and qualitatively change the lives of our people and must also be willing to sacrifice and work hard for a better Zambia. There are no quick-fix solutions to the current social and economic malaise in the country. The task of transforming Zambia is going to require the collective energy, commitment and will of our people so that the country moves forward in matters of development and human progress.

We are taking politics back to the basics where it should be about national service and personal sacrifice and not personal enrichment. To this end we stand firm in our belief for a Zambia that will have clean, credible and competent politics. We are resolute in our goals as we are inspired by icons who took on injustices head-on with no fear of even death. The icons below continue to inspire us in our quest for a better Zambia and a better world:

Thursday, 24 March 2011

We are first Pan Africanists then Social Democrats!

The SDC is a centre-left party which is guided by the twin ideologies of Pan-Africanism and Social Democracy. Our first premise is that the SDC is a Zambian party which is also located in Africa. As a people, Africans have endured all forms of oppression and humiliation for centuries. We were sold into slavery, brutally suppressed during colonial rule and have had to endure neo-colonial bondage even after attaining our independence. Our forerunners liberated our country from colonial subjugation, with an understanding that African people have a right to determine their destinies and have a right to a better life under God’s given sun. They made attempts to inject a sense of pride into our people and built schools and hospitals in order to make the nation literate and healthy.

Some successes were scored in the decade of independence. However, all these endeavours stagnated and then fizzled out. For almost thirty years our people wallowed in poverty and squalor. In the last decade, there has been some improvement in the lives of certain sections of the Zambian society and the economy has produced some positive signals. Notwithstanding, these benefits have not spread to the mass of our people and they have not reduced poverty in the country - which has endured for decades and continues to cripple Zambians in fundamental ways. Zambians, as Africans, still fit the same profile that was created by the colonialists, that says that we are a people to be pitied, who have no self-worth, are poverty stricken, hungry and are a burden to the world.

As Pan-Africanists, this is the image we want to erase once we are in power through a great leap forward into the modern age. Sound policies and institutions, good governance and a well thought out industrialisation programme will make this great leap possible. We envisage a new Zambia where functioning institutions, democratic politics and fair play will flourish. We will work tirelessly to liberate our people from penury and hopelessness. We will not base our governance on begging from donors, but roll up our sleeves and get stuck into the task of liberating the country from poverty. We will engage external partners only in unique circumstances. We want to make Zambia a working society and not one that is defined by begging and handouts. We strongly believe that no nation in the world has developed sorely on the goodwill of other nations or peoples. Therefore, Zambians must also be willing to work hard if they expect the country to prosper. This should begin with the leaders who should lead by example.

We are deeply concerned

Whilst other regions and the rest of humanity continue to advance in all areas of human endeavour, Africa still remains the most impoverished continent in the world despite being endowed with vast natural resources. Africans continue to be plagued by poverty, disease, hunger, illiteracy and many other social ills. Zambians are not an exception as they neatly fit into this scenario. After attaining independence several decades ago Zambia is still underdeveloped. Why is this state of affairs continuing in Zambia and on the continent? Put simply, why are Zambians in particular and Africans in general the wretched of the earth? The SDC firmly believes that the major obstacles to development in both Zambia and Africa lie in the nature of politics and the type of leadership at play. Both leaders and politicians alike do not seem to understand the dynamics of the modern age and their methods are still steeped in the twentieth century. The SDC will chart a new course of action in Zambian politics and lead the country into the future. In the quest for a new society, there are certain issues that our party will take into serious account.