Celebrating 54 years of Zambia’s Independence – A euphoric illusion of freedom
By Faston Mwale
The attainment of political independence on 24th of October, 1964 was a historic feat in the country’s pursuit for self-rule and self-determination. Economic wise, however, Zambia’s economic sovereignty has remained a pipe dream to today.
Besides the huge debt burden that Zambians have had to endure for decades, the unbridled corrupt behaviour of the current political leadership, makes the commemoration of 54 years of independence a real mockery.
What is there to celebrate about if the post-independence political systems have become more intoxicated with hate, state sponsored violence, and much more police brutality than that endured under colonial rule?
It is unacceptable that after 54 years of independence, Zambia has not learnt how to grow food and feed herself and as a consequence, the country is enduring poverty levels of over 60 percent.
The agriculture sector has since the dawn of the so-called independence in 1964 remained backward and the country faces numerous challenges including food insecurity, undernutrition and widespread chronic poverty. Zambia’s agricultural sector has been in a mess under the Patriotic Front.
The Fertiliser Input Support Programme, which, otherwise, would have been used to increase agricultural output, has been more of scheme to syphon funds into individuals pockets than help farmers to cut-back on production costs while agricultural extension services are not worth talking about.
Clearly, Zambia’s education system has virtually collapsed and students at all levels – from pre-school to tertiary as it has been commodified for the advancement of the capitalist interests.
The education sector has been done a blow the past few weeks a University of Zambia student was brutally killed by police by suffocating her in a hostel using teargas cannisters.
No doubt , the impact of loss of life under police brutality will have a lingering impact on the schooling community in all tertiary institutions.
Zambia’s primary healthcare system leaves much to be desired. Poor funding to the health sector compounded by unrestrained corruption and rampant theft of essential medicaments in the Ministry of Health has left health institutions in a quandary. One merely goes to the hospital not necessary for treatment but to seek a prescription for those who can afford to buy medicines. Given 54 years of independence, it is contemptuous that Zambia’s maternal mortality rate, for example, should be standing at 400 per 100,000.
Clearly, some of the problems we are enduring as a nation are of a historical nature but there is no doubt whatsoever that the present actions of the Patriotic Front have been much more harmful than at any other time in the country’s history. By their unbridled corruption, by their state sponsored violence, by their intolerance and by their mindless obstinacy, they have plunged the country into a state of terminal problems in all spheres of life.
The brutality of the PF and the continued contraction of the democratic space for the opposition, the suppression of our basic liberties all take away the essence of commemorating 54 years of independence with a requisite sense of joy. Certainly, this is not what our forebears sacrificed their lives for.
Celebrating independence is thus, a euphoric illusion. Comrades in the struggle, a traumatizing past and a troubled present must not be a barrier to the pursuit for justice, equity and peace. The difficulties we face must not discompose our revolutionary spirit but must illuminate our struggle for a humane world.
The sweat, blood and tears shed by our forefathers in the pursuit of freedom should not end in vain.
Faston Mwale is a Political Activist for the Socialist Party