Monday, June 17, 2024

Politics of Ideas Possible – Not Pangas and Screwdrivers


By Rehoboth Kafwabulula

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 saddness 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 crisscrossing 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 learned 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. The excitement was definitely an understatement. In our minds, we would go on to build a youth movement that would have left the grassroots 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 the 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 whiteboard 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 hangs 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 a typical disappointing cadre fashion. In a bus, drunk, armed with pangas, screwdrivers and machetes. They arrived where our senior comrades were meeting and disorganized their meeting. They broke windows, knocked heads, and stabbed a few of our senior comrades with screwdrivers. They had blocked the entrance; senior comrades were forced to jump over the wall fence and run for dear life.

Needless to say, our pilot project was immediately canceled. 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. Canceling 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.


  1. Kaizar Zulu and PF can only come up with politics of personalities and political attacks on the diaspora.Ideas ,issues and benchmarks is not their forte.

  2. You are, experiencing, young lady, part of what your leader created and supported. Its sad to read about the experience you had despite your good intentions which included helping the G12’s. Keep it up. Sorry to burst your bubble. NAREP had organised scholarships and advertised accordingly. I do not know how far that went. The Green Party’s Sinkamba annually supports students and small businesses. So the Socialist Party is not the first. Work with others. Create strong links, for the people of Zambia. You young people are bright and ambitious. Zambia needs you. Keep it up.

  3. Sadly, the poverty and illiteracy levels among the current Zambian electorate is just too high.In 1991, the electorate then was well educated and would have taken time to listen to the ideals the socialist party and other party.KK educated most Zambians and thats why they kicked him out.
    Under the PF , most Zambians live hand to mouth and only worry about their daily survival. A chitenge and a small amount of money is enough for them to vote for you.

  4. By practicing to be a peaceful nation and people is the only best way in which we can stsnd up agsinst this violence that is starting to happen in Zambia. So please ever one let fivht in tgd bedt way by not hurting each other or killing each other as Zambia people but by behaving and living in tge peaceful wsys in which we have lived as Zambia people, that tge thing that makes us to well known and recognized globally and that what makes people all over thd world to respect us and afmire us as Zambian people even if we are a poor nation. The peace tgat we hsve is the greatest weapon that we have in the world and this is tge weapon that even the most powerful country in the world which is America wants and desires for do let tha God and praise him for this greater weapon that he has given…

  5. First things first.
    Painting the socialist party as a ‘saint party’ is a whole wrong ball game. We shall regard you as a new kid on the block but with devious intent owing to the nature and capacity for lack of true of its founders.
    Let’s just say that the hate Mmembe has and the satire he represents from history cannot paint him as a Saint at all.
    These politics of pangas and screwdrivers attributed to PF and a group of dead goons the upndead stem from hate speech, falsehood, name calling, corruption, crookedness and selfness. These are trademarks of comrade Mmembe. Give us a sober break.

  6. The socialist party leader Freddie Mmembe created and nourished the PF dinosaur which ended up him and now he is rearing a giant whale which he has named Socialist party and he is busy enticing unsuspecting innocent souls those he wants to feed to his whale don’t be overzealous to be near Freddie the schemer

  7. The moment we don’t have crooked elements in politics, the better. Because then there would be no intention to name calling and falsehood that usually lead not to a trajectory of building but to wanting to harm. If you call someone a jackle, you would resort to harming him or her. The need to harm usually makes one to look for weaponry. In the asernal of weaponry we meet pangas and screwdrivers. Be like Americans preTrump. That America before Donald is devoid of name calling.
    Whoops! Did I just call someone a crooked element?

  8. Ideas or no ideas in politics. Zambia must remain peace. Since when do ordinary citizens become enemies of their own country where these people in position of power go procure South African riot machinery at the expense of the same citizen that pay for it. The problem here is Lungu and what he has embraced. As the president he must tame everyone to ensure life is protected

  9. How can we have politics as a competition of ideas about how to improve our economy when Public Order Act is used to limit that instead of promoting it. When there are no debates! How can you have competition of ideas if you cannot debate? How can people have informed ideas if debate does not happen? Thank God we have social media which is meeting this requirement half way among citizens. But leaders are not debating!

  10. ” While the majority of us bury our heads with an illusion that we are…”

    And you are the problem , you continue to bury your head in your hands , full of innuendos ………who attacked you ?

    Call a spade a spade……which caders attacked you……?

    Where they just concerned citizens ?

  11. The system is well known just come out a tell them… there’s a bunch of imperialist surrogates that want power at all costs and they will use anything by all means to have it

  12. There is hope! we just need to change people’s mindsets and maybe one day Zambians will realize that destiny to property in our own hands. We need to isolate parties which represent violence by taking a zero tolerance method. Cut them out, they are nothing without your vote.

  13. Go ask your leader who is a tax evader. That is money which would have gone to fund various developmental projects. How can a socialist evade tax. You champagne socialists. Also is this the girl who was verbally abused by a perverted journalist. She also talks too much without thinking.

  14. Because of id1ots like Lungu and the stup1d PF party of illiterates and w@nkers, if it is the ka president awe mwandi… 0IQ

  15. Well stated case – in today’s politics of killings going on, while the government in power dithers and procrastinates, shifting the blame to those without instruments of power is a clear demonstration of failure of self governing. The challenge is to provide opportunity to Zambians freely choose their own leaders who will be accountable to the people and removed freely without reaction through violence. That is a culture currently denied to Zambians. The cycle of false promises, deception, harassment, violence and corruption is a culture employed by a failing government that is fearful.

  16. Who is Rehoboth Kafwabulula? How do you just put up a photo of a young girl and you expect us to google??

  17. I feel for young people following Fred Meembe …he is instrumental in creating these monsters we have today in govt.

  18. Two Opposition UPND officials have died in a road traffic accident that occurred on the Kitwe-Ndola Dual Carriage way.
    The officials have been named as UPND Provincial Youth Chairperson, Mr. Ronald Manenga and his Deputy, Gerald Ngambi who have both died in the fatal accident.

  19. There is a synergistic relationship, a vicious cycle between poverty and politically motivated violence. Younga lady, you have not even addressed how yowa party will deal with the poverty challenge. Until that time, you are merely only doing what Zambians do best. Talking.

  20. KZ your ex boss is a convict a thief and a drunkard who has no vision.

    Soon enough he will be facing the courts the wealth that he has accumulated through robbery. Your time will come as well.

    May be an asylum in the zoo with fellow apes would be more appealing

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