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.