Commentaries and Analyses: year 2004 Index

Four Decades Of Independence

LUSAKA, Oct. 26 - On this day, the 24th of October, we wish to salute and congratulate all the people of Zambia as they commemorate their country's 40 years of independence.

It is indeed a moment and an occasion worth commemorating. It has been four decades of great struggles and, in some respects, achievements.

Much as it is time to commemorate, it is also time to reflect and renew our commitment to do more to change the lives of our people for the better and eradicate the abject poverty that continues to humiliate and harass over 80 per cent of our people and the horrible HIV virus.

As we enter our fifth decade of independence, we cannot allow these problems to persist. The fundamental challenge we face is that of creating work and fighting poverty. To achieve this we need a state-led and our people's driven efforts to drive economic transformation in favour of the poor.

In this respect, this fifth decade of our freedom requires that we intensify the offensive against this unjust world economic order if we are to address poverty and joblessness. This means that we cannot address underdevelopment in our country, our country's gender inequalities and other problems other than from a consistent perspective of the poor.

Any approach to all these questions and problems that either overlooks, denies or is silent about the plight of the over 80 per cent of Zambians who wallow in abject poverty can only be a lie to them. This therefore means that the fundamental goal of our transformation remains the struggle against the unjust, exploitative and inhuman economic order, as a necessary condition to defeat poverty and joblessness. It is from this angle and perspective that we hope progressive Zambians will engage themselves on the terrain of struggles during the fifth decade of our country's independence.

All of this requires a strong sense of unity. It requires a leadership that is able to play its role in this regard and ensure that the interests of the poor are paramount across all key sites of power and influence.

Accordingly, we believe that our leaders must be judged on the basis of their collective and individual commitment and actual performance in the struggle to address the key interests of the poor. The mandate of our people to their leaders is to press ahead with the transformation of our country in their own favour as the workers and the poor.

This mandate is built fundamentally on the energies, aspirations, commitment and organisation of millions of workers and the poor, those who live in dusty townships, in sprawling peri-urban settlements and in rural villages.

Foremost in the interests and aspirations of this constituency is job creation, poverty eradication and fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Therefore, these three priorities are the basis upon which to interact with, support and assess our country's leadership. There must be no government priority, decision and programme which is not informed by these three priorities.

The trust placed by our people in their leaders is not something to be taken for granted. To reiterate, moving forward, it cannot be a matter of business as usual. In the coming years, special attention must be given to local-level governance, to local economic development, to building sustainable communities.

Essential in all of this must be dynamic and popular contact between our government and our mass base - this must be sustained through active engagements and community-based programmes of action and people-driven government programmes. Our political leadership has a central responsibility in this regard.

Our people will need to be mobilised to take responsibility for the government they have elected, by ensuring that, through their organised muscle and mass base, they are in the forefront of the struggle to create jobs, eradicate poverty and fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We believe that the workers and the poor are the leading social force in driving further the transformation of our country.

Therefore the workers and the poor must ensure that their government is primarily for their benefit.

In other words, there must be no government decision, priority and programme which does not take into account the aspirations and interests of the workers and the poor as the foremost priority and consideration.

And on such days as this, we pay special tribute to all the men and women who sacrificed in so many ways for our country's independence and all those who have toiled to make our country a better place.

Rather than being forgotten with the passing of years, their exemplarly lives, their unselfishness and heroism should be remembered by all of us.

From these men and women, we should learn to be modest and prudent, guard against arrogance and rashness, and serve the Zambian people heart and soul.

We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from our heroes. With this spirit, everyone can be very useful to the people.

Every word, every act and every policy must conform to the people's interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected - that is what being responsible to the people means.

Wherever there's struggle, there must be sacrifice. But we should have the interests of the people and the sufferings of the great majority at heart, and when we sacrifice to serve the people, it is a worthy sacrifice.

The ancient Chinese writer Szuma Chien said, " All men must die, but death can vary in its significance. Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather. To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the exploiters and oppressors and to die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather."

We shouldn't forget to constantly bear in mind that ours is a country with a lot of potentialities but an economically backward and poor one, and that is a very great contradiction. To Make Zambia rich and prosperous needs several decades of intense effort, which will include, among other things, the effort to practice strict economy and combat waste, that is a policy of building up our country through diligence and frugality.

'Thrift' should be the guiding principle in our government's expenditure. Corruption and waste should be made very serious crimes. Our campaigns against corruption need to be stepped up.

We should always use our brains and think everything over carefully. A common saying goes, "Knit your brows and you will hit upon a stratagem." In other words, much thinking yields wisdom. In order to get rid of the blindness that exists to a serious extent among our leaders in government, we must encourage them to think, to learn to properly analyse things. What we need is an enthusiastic but calm state of mind and intense but orderly work.

The Post / allAfrica Global Media

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Archives 2004:

The New Way Of Enlightenment

Bush Re-Election Is A Tragedy

Will The World Now See A Clash Of Fundamentalist Titans?

Let's Emulate France

Renewing The UN System

This Isn't A Zoo But The Promised Land

Four Decades Of Independence

Apologies A Good Trend Among African Leaders

IMF Needs Structural Reform, Not Argentina!

Pentagon Uses Depleted Uranium Shells In Its Raid Against Iraq

Why SADC Decided On Electoral Guidelines

Celebrating 40 Years Of Independence

Visionless Leadership

Unifying Freedom Idea

Bush Trims A Tale

Perspectives Files
2005 2004  2003
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