Saturday, May 11, 2013

More from Zambia

On 25 March 2013 the former republican president Rupiah Banda was charged and arrested for being in a fraudulent involvement in an oil scam deal. This is a case in which it is alleged that Banda signed an oil contract with Nigeria, whose financial benefits were siphoned off in his private account. He was released on a police bond of K500 million, and will keep on to appear in court soon. But what many people in Zambia fail to appreciate is the fact that there was a global economic crisis immediately Banda took over as president of the MMD in 2008 – whose economic significance led to his fall of Banda in 2011. The adverse economic conditions prevailing in the years 2008-2011 made the PF political slogan of Don't Kubeba [don't tell them] more appealing to the Zambian workers and students. It is also a fact that the PF came to power when the adverse economic conditions had started to improve in western Europe and the USA.

Thus President Sata’s first year in office was characterised by favourable copper prices on the world market. Thus any further economic success enjoyed by the PF government remains to be argued on the rejuvenated global economic prospects. When we take into perspective the politically motivated frays of tribal and ethnic comments emanating from the UPND – together with the adverse economic conditions suffered by the Zambian workers under the MMD, there is a concern for a compelling comparison between economic liberalism and a one-party dictatorship.

It is a fact that twenty years after the collapse of "Communism" in both Europe and Africa – African countries have been rocked by election motivated street riots and student demonstrations. In Zambia the dawn of political pluralism has given rise to tribalism and nepotism. Third world countries, Zambia in particular must be fair to themselves by distracting themselves from the falsehood circle shared by defenders of capitalism hat public sector investment, price regulations and subsidies on fertilisers are a representation of the failure of socialist-oriented economic dogma.

It is still believed by Dr. Kenneth Kaunda that UNIP lost the 1991 general election to Fredrick Chiluba due to an exorbitant increase in the price of meali meal. The street riots that broke out in 1986 when people in urban areas took to the streets and looted shops was a consequence of spiralling oil prices and falling copper prices on the London Stock Exchange – and was therefore not a consequence of increased meali meal prices. It was also plain that "Communism" is conceived under a one-party state had come to an end in both eastern Europe and Africa.

Dr. Kaunda went to nationalise private-owned mealing companies and introduced food rationing. But this only heped the emergence of a black market and more shortages of essential commodities. When the MMD came to power it introduced privatisation, and parasitical firms were hastily sold at knock-down prices. This led to short-term unemployment. Fredrick Chiluba, though and avid political demagogue, failed to implement any sound economic policies when he was in power. The coming Levy Mwanasa signalled a new beginning in the political misfortunes of the MMD lawyer by profession Mwanawasa completely dismantled the MMD from its patriotic sentiments, founded upon the charismatic status of Fredrick Chiluba. Ethnicity and tribalism resurfaced within the MMD and the movement lost its Bemba-speaking political membership – the MMD had a strong political membership in Northern Province. In today’s modern world political statesmen are everywhere; the last and only individuals singled out to bear the brunt of political and economic misfortunes of the nation state. This is because political statesmen are everywhere entrusted with constitutional political power and privileges above everyone else.
This political privilege and power is fanned by the flames of patriotism and nationalism.

The global economic crisis that begun in 2008 witnessed the sudden collapse of copper prices at the London Stock Exchange. In Zambia this translated itself into the abrupt closure of some mining firms––unemployment shot up overnight in urban areas. And, without any seemingly vibrant and pragmatic response from President Banda, the MMD became very unpopular within Copperbelt mining.

Though and Security Mining Minister Fackson Shamenda may have displeased a number of organisations when he announced the banning of employing non-Zambian expatriates as Human Resource Managers, he was only responding to the hue and cry that has reverberated among urban workers. Discredited among workers in companies controlled by non-Zambians or ex-patriots Human Resource Managers intensified under the MMD government.

The ban is aimed at appeasing the expatriate Human Resource Manager against the vile seductions of victimisation, ill-treatment and racial abuse. Foreign Human Resource Managers are known for imposing harsh and draconian conditions of service on the local labour force.

In order to deliver on the election promises the PF has introduced a minimum wage (pay rise) to general workers from K415 to K1230. It has also created 9700 jobs in the Civil Service through employing teachers, nurses, policemen and agricultural extension officials. President Sata is bent on increasing a huge Public Service that is absorbing 70 percent of government expenditure. Being a seasoned and pragmatic politician, Sata has seen the economic advantages in the diplomatic relations with China.

The PF government is relying on Chinese investors to develop the country in terms of building hospitals, schools and constructing roads. But this is a surprising about-tune from Sata’s well-known anti-Chinese political statements when he was in opposition. All said, it becomes a matter of grave concern to note that both the MMD and the UPND have lost their regional and ethnic support ever since the PF came to power. Opposition members of Parliament are deserting the MMD and UPND to join the ruling PF. Fears about Zambia becoming a one-party state are consequences of these resignations.

We in the WSM are the only effective political opposition that shall always remain intact to analyse the social and political vices perpetrated under capitalism – how innocent and sometimes well-meaning politicians try and fail to make capitalism work in the interest of the workers, both in the Western developed countries and Africa. Capitalism as a system lives on and survives through boom and bust, and will forever remain to be so unless the workers who comprise the majority try to replace it with socialism – the last and only remaining political and economic alternative to capitalism.

K. MULENGA, Kitwe, Zambia

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