By Socialist Party reporter
THE Socialist Party says without overstating facts, its president and 2021 presidential candidate Fred M’membe is one of the few living legends in Zambia. Socialist Party general secretary and first vice-president Dr Cosmas Musumali addressed a media briefing at Dr M’membe’s Garden Compound office in Lusaka, to explain who the latter is and how he fits into the programme of the Socialist Party.
Dr Musumali, an internationally reputed economist, sat with party treasurer general and second vice-president Dr Chris Ngenda Mwikisa, and Rehoboth Kafwabulula, the member of the central committee, general secretary of the party’s youth league and party spokesperson. He described Dr M’membe as a firm and resolute socialist leader, with an aversion for lies and theft.
Dr Musumali said while one’s educational badges, in relationship to leadership, counted little in a socialist set-up, Dr M’membe was exceptional, in that area.“In the Socialist Party we don’t believe that education necessarily makes you a good leader. Some of these people you are calling corrupt today, thieves, are highly educated by all standards,” he said.
“[But] your education does not make you a good leader [but] it makes you to do certain things differently. Nevertheless, if you take out Robert Mugabe, may his soul rest in peace, then Fred M’membe will be the most highly educated African president.”
Dr M’membe, according to Dr Musumali, is an accountant, an economist, a lawyer and that he has done business management and accumulated relevant degrees. “He doesn’t have fake PhDs that are flying around. He is still studying….” Dr Musumali said.
He also talked about Dr M’membe’s honours and awards, especially in the areas of freedom of the press. Dr M’membe ran The Post newspaper from July 1991 until the company’s liquidation on November 2, 2016. He was the managing director and editor-in-chief. Dr Musumali indicated that Dr M’membe, years back, had been awarded for friendship with the Cuban Revolution by Cuba’s former president Raul Castro. “So, he is a decorated friend of the Cuban Revolution,” Dr Musumali noted.
“The Post, under Fred M’membe, was the only African media house that set up an office in Cuba. In the Socialist Party this is something we are very proud of.”
He continued: “without exaggerating, Fred M’membe is one of the few living legends in Zambia today.” “Zambian history is not going to be complete without mentioning the name Fred M’membe,” he said. He highlighted Dr M’membe’s contribution to Zambia’s democratic dispensation. “He is a legend who is a socialist at the same time. Being a socialist means you are against the system of capitalism that we live under today. He (Dr M’membe) has been a socialist ever since our campus days and he has not changed,” Dr Musumali explained.
“So, we have, for the first time in Zambian history, a true socialist personality that will come in and be the president of this country. Like most living legends, the story can be quite diverse…”
Dr Musumali, however, regretted that today Dr M’membe was being “hunted like a wild animal” by the current regime.“His house in Chinsali has been occupied [by police] for more than a year now. They see in him a danger!” Dr Musumali said.“But maybe what the Zambian people should be asking themselves is what is it that makes Fred M’membe that dangerous for the authorities in this country? [It’s] because he wants genuine change, transformation.”
He added that there were very few people in Zambia one could point at, who have fought consistently like Dr M’membe. Dr Musumali pointed out that most people become legends only when they got in power – when they are ministers, presidents.“That’s when we get to know about them! Very few people have been arrested, harassed, persecuted, insulted, abused, like Fred M’membe has been while outside government. Again, this is a living legend who we have convinced to become the president of this country,” he said.“We feel privileged to serve with this dear brother, dear comrade. So, come next year Fred M’membe is our president and you’ll have a president that is a true patriot. Fred M’membe loves Zambia!”
Dr Musumali noted that apart from being a Zambian patriot, there were other issues people were unclear about Dr M’membe. “Fred M’membe was known from The Post…. I have read on social media stories like ‘let him pay back Zambian taxes.’ All I can say is that the government propaganda has worked, “ he said, stressing that The Post was never closed because of taxation. “[But] it was closed because a handful of staff of The Post were convinced to go and claim their payments that were due because the organisation was not operating…”He added that the biggest lie he had ever heard in Zambia was linking the closure of The Post to a pretext of tax arrears.Dr Musumali also underscored that it was wrong to assert that socialism was equal to dictatorship or a one party state.
On Dr M’membe’s generosity or lack of it, Dr Musumali indicated that there were many acts of his generosity. “But it’s not a secret that over 30 people have been assisted by him to get university, college education. Not [assisted by] The Post but by Fred M’membe as a private person! I have travelled with him extensively in the rural areas…” Dr Musumali said.
He also talked about Dr M’membe’s nationality. “If you go to Chitimukulu today and ask ‘who is Fred M’membe,’ he will tell you how Fred M’membe is part of the royal establishment of the Bembas. You can’t be more Bemba than Fred M’membe! His grandmother is Bisa….” He explained. “On the mother’s side, he is quite spread. We know about Fred M’membe. We have gone from village to village (his maternal villages). You can’t be more Zambian than that. He is from Northern, Muchinga, Southern and Western Provinces.”
Meanwhile, Dr Musumali noted that to be a national leader, “you have to be firm and resolute.” “If you are looking for somebody who is firm and resolute, Fred M’membe is the person. Fred M’membe will accept what you tell him, straightaway. [But] the moment he knows you are lying, the moment he knows you have stolen, then you’ll hate him,” said Dr Musumali.
“This is a quality that we need in Zambia today. The society is rotten bottom up! Without firmness, being resolute, you’ll always have a State that is spineless. We are convinced that with Fred being there, we’ll have a person that gives us hope that we can build that socialist society that we dream of.”