On Tuesday the 24th October 2017, Zambia clocks 53 years of independence. On this day our minds are filled with names of heroes who fought the most vicious of battles to secure the freedom we now enjoy.
The freedom to determine our own destiny. The freedom to speak our minds. The freedom to choose our own leaders. The freedom to assemble anywhere in Zambia and the freedom to co exist across racial, tribal and political lines. These freedoms define the quality of our independence and the justification of the struggle.
On behalf of the Movement for Multiparty Party Democracy and on my own behalf, I would like to wish all Zambians a memorable but reflective independence celebration.
In view of the definition of independence I have given, it is clear that this is the most controversial independence celebration we have had since October 24th 1964. It has been reduced to a shell of a celebration, devoid of character and weight. It has been rendered meaningless by the events of the past twelve months.
This year’s celebration comes at a time when the freedoms we have always taken for granted have been taken away. We cant speak freely, we can not assemble anywhere and we are not allowed to associate as we choose. It has become a crime to do so.
The economy is officially in distress and the peoples ability to make ends meet is very strained. The prices of essential products such as fuel are ever increasing, salaries of workers are ever shrinking and poverty levels are worse now than they have ever been. The only people who seem to have an easy time are the ones in the ruling class.
In my two letters to the minister of finance, Hon Felix Mutati, dated July 31st and August 30th 2017, I sounded an alarm on the lack of truth on the part of the minister to tell the nation the true figures of our debt stock as a nation. Hon Mutati lied to parliament (which in itself is an offense of a criminal nature) that our debt stock was still at US$7.2 billion. Our MMD economic team got to work and computed, using numbers from the ministry of finance that the true external national debt could not be less than US$16.6 billion. We then added the domestic debt and the final debt stock came to approximately US$23.4 billion. We sent the entire computation of our figures to the minister to either confirm them or refute them. He has never responded. We further released our figures to the press. Two weeks ago, the IMF vindicated our concerns and confirmed that Zambia’s economy is headed for extreme stress due to unsustainable borrowing and unreasonable debt levels.
The insatiable appetite to borrow has paralyzed the life of many Zambians. It is however frightening that with this economic stress, President Lungu has decided to increase his appetite for uncontrolled world travel. He is now rated the most travelled president in the SADC region. Countries with better GDP have curtailed the travels of their Presidents and Ministers.
National debt under President Lungu is the highest it has ever been since independence. While this level of debt is the worst news Zambians are dealing with, the bigger problem is that President Lungu and his ministers don’t care as they are living lifestyles only fit for countries like Switzerland. On this Independence Day, we must use our hard earned freedom to stop this abuse of our future by a few people.
Zambians are angry at the high levels of corruption by those in power. Zambians are angry at the theft involved in the procurement of the 42 fire engines purportedly bought for a million dollars a piece. Zambians are angry at the fact that government contracts to supply anything from fire tenders to fertilizer, cholera medicine and construction are being given to one company reported to have been created by the friends of the President. This is an emotional independence for many Zambians.
I have attached to this statement the letter I wrote to President Lungu on May 28th 2017 high lighting the injustices meted against opposition voices in the nation. The last twelve months have shockingly unveiled a Zambia none of us ever thought existed. The brutal vindictive arrests and incarceration of opposition leaders like Hakainde Hichilema, Saviour Chishimba, Tayali and many others only to be released with no case to answer is appalling. Most of us in the opposition are more in police cells and courts than in the field. The displayed dictatorship of President Lungu was only slowed down by the intervention of the international community. This behavior by the PF government has down graded Zambia’s integrity on the international platform of nations.
The good news is that Zambians have changed and are more resolved to take on this government and demand accountability from the government officials. This independence celebration will not be business as usual. We call on all Zambians to put up a spirited fight to recover what has been stolen by those in power. When we do this, we are demonstrating the true meaning of independence. We are taking responsibility to correct the evils which are bound to injure our prospects of a better future. If we are truly free, then we should freely speak out and demand for accountability. Government should not be allowed to remain arrogantly silent in the midst of such pain and anguish. They must provide believable answers to our questions. If we fail to achieve this, then our independence is a hoax.
While it is our right to celebrate our independence, it is also our collective responsibility not to allow any individual or political party to ravage the resources of our land with impunity. We must unite as an independent people to fight the evil of corruption which has reversed the economic gains made by the previous MMD government.
The only way to celebrate this year’s independence is to exercise our freedom by taking responsibility to correct the disruptive behavior of corruption by the Patriotic Front government.
It is when we all stand up as ONE that we can all truly say, Zambia Shall be Saved.