By Fred M’membe President of the Socialist Party
It’s very sad that some key political leaders of our country don’t know or understand what caused shortages of cooking oil and other commodities during the last part of Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s reign. These leaders are out of ignorance attributing the shortages of many consumer goods under the Kaunda era to socialism.
Firstly, the Kaunda government was not a socialist government. At most, Dr Kaunda can be said to have been a social democrat. And these were extremely honest leaders who cared more about their people than self enrichment. They had opportunities to enrich themselves like their colleagues did in Kenya and other African countries who robbed their people of land.
The period of shortages was at the height of the liberation struggle in southern Africa when the country was totally blockaded – with no dealings with South Africa, Namibia, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Angola, Mozambique, and Botswana were not the prosperous Botswana of today. Tanzania was also not the Tanzania of today. And oil prices had shot up worldwide. They had to start companies to produce their own cooking oil and other commodities. And these were the companies some of these leaders denigrating them today came to privatise at very exorbitant fees or commissions and enriched themselves.
Thanks to the very high sacrifices our leaders and our people had made that made it possible for our leaders today to go to South Africa and do deals with representatives of corporations that colonised, exploited and humiliated us for centuries. People who claim to be economists should have a better understanding of things than this. This is really an exhibition of crass ignorance and dishonesty.
Socialism is not about, or synonymous with, shortages of cooking oil and other essential commodities.
How can someone in this era and age think having or drinking Coca-cola is a big achievement, an indicator of economic and social prosperity? What is Coca-cola anyway? A mixture of carbon dioxide, water and caffeine! Of what nutrition value is Coca-cola? It is actually dangerous for the human body. And what is wrong with our people coming up with their drinks? Is this how empty and pro imperialist they are? What will remain of this country at the end of rule? Coca-cola will be everything! They will own everything. What will remain under the ownership of our people?
Socialism is about a better life for all our people anchored on equity, solidarity, humility and honesty. And socialism has shown how poor nations can get out of poverty in the shortages historical times. Look at the achievements of Cuba – a country fought and blockaded for over 63 years. Without the minerals Zambia has, Cuba in 2020 had a GDP of around 107.35 billion U.S. dollars. GDP is an important indicator of a country’s economic power.
GDP in Zambia was expected to reach 24.00 USD Billion by the end of 2021. In the long-term, the Zambia GDP which has been pursuing unbridled neoliberal capitalist policies for more than 30 years is projected to trend around 27.00 USD Billion in 2023, according to some econometric models.
India’s socialist state of Kerale is leading in many economic and social indicators and scientific achievements. Whatever their attempts to credit China’s achievements to capitalism, that is a great socialist state pursuing socialism with Chinese characteristics. And this is what its leaders say. They attribute their economic successes to socialism. We also have the successes of Vietnam.
The ignorant attempt to smear socialism and socialists to hide their greed and corruption quest to become billionaires won’t do. No matter what they say or do socialism will one day triumph in our homeland. Capitalism has for centuries failed our people. Let them show us where capitalism has succeeded in Africa?
And more interesting is the fact that the most achievements scored in Zambia can be attributed to certain socialist inspired principles that were implemented in the country. The creation of free education, infrastructure development, creation of state-owned enterprises that employed many and some which still stand today are as a result of having a human face towards national economic development which in itself is socialism. Most leaders today who are a product of free education and other socially oriented programmes want to ridicule a system that moved them from poverty and then support imperialist policies that only benefit a few foreign interests.
Zambia definitely need a citizen led economic development agenda which under a socialist government will be attained.
We want Zambians who can have genuine businesses and not these crooked dealers, tenderpreneurs calling themselves businessmen. Like China, Zambia will manage to free its people from poverty through socialism with Zambian characteristics. It’s socialism and only socialism that can guarantee our sovereignty, dignity and prosperity.