By Mable Tubaaka
THE SOCIALIST Party’s manifesto is based on “the aspirations, hopes and dreams” of ordinary Zambians, general secretary and first vice-president Cosmas Musumali told TV viewers.
Speaking on Hot FM’s The Hot Seat programme on the subject “Socialist Vision”, Dr Musumali told interviewer Peter Pzee Zulu Jr that the party had visited villages, towns and compounds asking “fundamental questions”.
“So what is stated in the manifesto today represents the aspirations, hopes and dreams of Zambians. These are not ideas from Cosmas Musumali’s, Fred M’membe’s or maybe Chris Mwikisa’s heads,” he said. “No. These are aggregates, summarised opinions of what Zambians need. We summarised them under three headings: Zambians need more justice – there is an issue of justice, Zambians are seeking more equity – equity becomes the huge pillar in terms of our manifesto, and Zambians want peace – they want a peaceful society.”
Dr Musumali said the manifesto reflected that justice, equity and peace – JEP– were the pillars of Zambians’ needs “in their lives, for their future, for the future of their grandchildren”.
“We were the first political party in Zambia to launch a manifesto,” Dr Musumali said. “We shared it with the Zambian public. There was a special occasion when we launched it and it has been debated in a lot of places we have visited. We bring out our manifesto and subject it to discussions by the Zambian masses.
“Our manifesto is original, it is for the masses and is a product of the broader thinking of Zambians. It is a manifesto that goes beyond just the Socialist Party and its leadership.”
Dr Musumali said the manifesto was a year old, adding there was no point in producing one close to elections. “If you produce a manifesto a few months before elections, what is the intention in a country where people don’t have a culture of reading? It means even your own party members will never understand it. It’s making a joke of democracy by coming up with a manifesto at a late hour.”
Zulu asked Dr Musumali if Zambia was ready for socialism. “Is Zambia ready for equity? The answer is yes. That’s what Zambians yearn for. Do Zambians want justice? Yes. Every human being wants a sense of justice. Do Zambians want peace? Yes. They are crying out for peace. Zambia is becoming a very violent country, we are destroying our country, we are destroying ourselves, if not physically, then mentally.”
Dr Musumali said the needs of Zambians could not be met by capitalism. “Our understanding is that you can’t have peace, justice, or equity in the capitalist society we have today. Only a socialist-inspired society can guarantee those three basic tenets of democracy. When you talk about socialism, they are not abstract words. We are talking about more equity. That’s it. What is so difficult about that?”
Zulu asked Dr Musumali how long it would take for the Socialist Party to transform Zambian society. He replied that, while there were short or medium-term plans – looking five years ahead for example – it was important to have a long-term vision.
“You have to plan much longer, your vision has to go beyond five years,” he said. “Our friends in China look at 300 years, but we want to dream of a Zambia 50 years from now. But that 50 years is not built in 50 years, it has to be built today. The steps you take today give you the foundation for the society you want to build. Our manifesto puts the building blocks, the foundation, upon which that 50 years society – a socialist society – is going to be built by Zambians.”
Dr Musumali said Zambia’s current capitalist institutions were weak and could not deliver equity. “We have to start from there, and if we are starting from a low level, we have to be patient,” he said. “We have to know exactly which step to work on first, and we have worked on that. We know what we want to do in the first instance. We have said that when building socialism, we will start with three areas in terms of building equity; we are looking at health, education and peasant agriculture.”
Dr Musumali said those three key areas of socialisation were just the beginning of the project. “We hope that in the first five years we will make drastic changes, transformative changes, in health, education and peasant agriculture. That will give us the foundation [for] the superstructures we need in order to build a much more humane society.”