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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The time has come

Dr. Fred M’membe's speech for revolutionary change in Zambia

On June 17 Dr. Fred M’membe gave this inspiring speech a day in advance of the release of the manifesto of Socialist Party of Zambia for the elections coming in August, 2021. M'membe is the party's presidential candidate.

You can read the full manifesto with its calls for free and universal education and healthcare, the creation of housing and water infrastructure for the people, women's rights and the transformation of the Zambian economy and society to give justice, equity and peace for all at this link.

Here is his unedited introduction of this great program for social change and social justice:

Thank you for following the launch of our party’s manifesto.

Our manifesto is a manifesto of revolutionary change.

It’s a manifesto that will bring fundamental changes to our country and to our lives.

It’s a manifesto of revolutionary democracy, of transforming our country and our lives together, of working together side by side like beavers.

It’s a manifesto of fraternal love.

It’s a manifesto about the construction of a just society – a society anchored on economic, social and political justice.

It’s a manifesto that will bring about equity in terms of access to education by making education totally free from nursery at the age of three to university. And compulsory from nursery to grade 12.

It is a manifesto that will bring about equity in terms of access to health services by making it totally free and fundamentally improving its quality.

It’s a manifesto that will bring about equity in terms of access to nutrition by investing heavily in, and reorganising, peasant agriculture.

It’s a manifesto about jobs. Without being able to find work in an economy one cannot truly benefit from it.

It’s a manifesto about peace, a society free from all sorts of economic, social and political violence. It’s about a society where we can all go to bed without fear of being ‘gassed’.

But they will tell you all this is not possible; we are lying, we are dreaming, it can’t be done. They will ask: where will the money for all these services come from?

We know today what is happening. They are buying motor vehicles at exorbitant prices, they are building roads at three to four times the average prices in the region; they are buying presidential jets; they are building toll gates at exorbitant prices. We can go on and on – the list is endless. They are not asking where the money is coming from because they are spending it on themselves.

Yes, money will be needed. But money is not the starting point, money isn’t everything. The first thing is to establish the principles behind these free services – why do we need free education and health services? A nation that is not well educated, that is not healthy cannot be efficient and productive, cannot be competitive in today’s highly technological world.

Our approach is that children are not only born to a mother and father. They are born in a much bigger family, community and nation. They belong to the family, community and nation. The mother and the father cannot deal with them as they wish or please because they are not theirs alone. They are ours collectively and as such we must take collective responsibility for their education, health, nutrition and other services they require to grow up as good human beings and responsible citizens.

As for money, your Socialist Party government will do what the individual households do when money is little, is short – remove unnecessary expenditure, luxuries when the going is rough. The Socialist Party government will remove unnecessary expenditure to save money for the provision of free education and health services to our children and all our people.

Those who have exploited, abused you, marginalised you for years and their supporters are going to be telling you that everything in this manifesto is impossible because they don’t want revolutionary change in your lives and your country.

And why should they? Everything is going on very well for them and their children. They have no problems with education and health services. Everything is going well for them. But it’s not going on well for you.

This manifesto is about addressing the distressing situation of our young people who have to stop school because their parents have no money to pay fees; who have passed but can’t attend college or university because of they don’t have money.

This manifesto is about creating jobs for many of our people who can’t find work and earn a living; the trained teacher, nurse, clinical officer, agriculture extension officer who can’t be employed.

This manifesto is about addressing the problems of the retiree who is not being paid his retirement benefits for years while the leaders are paying themselves midterm gratuities and are getting their benefits before even their terms of office come to an end; are selling themselves expensive government motor vehicles for near to nothing. They have no shortage of money for themselves, but for the poor and marginalised.

This manifesto is about serving the lives of our people who are ill and instead of being given medicines at our clinics or hospitals are given prescriptions to go and buy drugs from pharmacies when they have no money. In the meantime your leaders fly out for treatment at the taxpayers’ cost, at your cost.

If things continue like this, what is your future and that of your children? What hope is there for a better life for you and your children and your children’s children?

Your incomes are not increasing, jobs are being lost, your businesses are failing but the things you have to pay for are increasing everyday – mealie-meal prices are skyrocketing, water, electricity, transport, school, medicines, clothes, rentals, cost of borrowing from kaloba are all going up!

This system, this order is not working for you. It’s working for them but not for you.

And that’s why so many people today think all politicians are liars, are the same – they promise heaven but they can’t even deliver purgatory. They are there just to enrich themselves.

This is understandable. You have been cheated, betrayed by politicians, your leaders for too long to trust anyone. You are now giving up on politics and politicians.

This is where this manifesto comes in to give hope, restore confidence by showing our people that this party, this manifesto is different, it is not any other party, it is not any other politician. It is a revolutionary party, a revolutionary manifesto to bring about revolutionary change. It is not about empty, false promises. It is about revolutionary democracy – deciding together, creating together, building together and thereby increasing our people’s confidence in themselves and their future.

The Socialist Party is yours. This manifesto is yours. And that is why in the coming days, weeks, months, despite their petty differences and mock engagements, all of them will gang up against your party, your manifesto.

If they thought we represented politics as usual, that we could be compromised, bought off, that nothing was really going to change – they wouldn’t be so ferociously and virulent against us.

They know we mean business, they know we mean what we say. We are honest people.

They know our chances of winning next year’s elections are very high. And they know we will deliver on your programme and your manifesto. And they are all not sleeping over this prospect.

That’s why they are throwing all their spanners in our work – denying us space to freely mobilise.

They’re very scared of a revolutionary transformation of this country.

All sorts of unscrupulous elements are pumping in a lot of money in the leading capitalist parties of this country – they own and control them. But they don’t own and control you and your party – the Socialist Party. The humble workers, peasants and the working intellectuals own the Socialist Party.

When you’re serious about revolutionary change and your chances of winning are high those who draw gigantic benefits from the current corrupt order will mobilise against you, they will fight you to preserve their benefits, their privileges.

Clearly, this manifesto will usher in a different kind of society.

That’s what our manifesto is all about. All that remains to realise it is your vote. And your vote is more powerful than all their money.

So get your national registration card and register to vote for yourself, for your future and that of your country.

It can’t be denied that for the great majority of our people next year’s elections will be

offering a once-in-a-generation chance of revolutionary change.

We have a chance to end despair and hopelessness.

It’s gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes. Let’s not give up; let’s not lose hope.

With some effort, great effort and the watch, protection and guidance of the spirits of our ancestors, of that courageous Ngoni worrier commander Nsingu we will triumph and make Zambia what it was meant to be – our paradise here on earth!

The time has come for revolutionary change in Zambia!

Thank you very much!



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