By Staff Reporter
Socialist Party General Secretary Cosmas Musumali says veteran journalist and legal practitioner Fred M’meme is free to join the Socialist Party if he wants.
And Dr Musumali has described the current scenario as a rotten society under a capitalist system.
Meanwhile, he has expressed serious doubt about the price of fuel ever reducing drastically due to crookedness in the procurement system.
Featuring on Radio Phoenix’s Let The People Talk live phone-in programme in Lusaka on Tuesday, Dr Musumali, a distinguished socialist economist, said there was no political party in the history of this country after 1991 to which Dr M’membe did not contribute.
This was after the moderator, Luchi referred Dr Musumali to a story published in the Daily Nation newspaper on January 29, which insinuated that Dr M’membe was mobilising people in compounds of Lusaka and would later take over leadership of the party.
The story also accused the party of recruiting army officers, giving coordinators K60, 000 each for party mobilisation, and training members how to make and detonate petrol bombs, among other things.
Dr Musumali explained that there was no problem in Dr M’membe participating in the politics of the country since he was also a citizen.
“Firstly, I said you can’t own the Socialist Party, it belongs to the masses. If comrade Fred M’meme wants to join the Socialist Party he is welcome. He has been around long enough and has participated in the politics of this country, including in 1991 when we were reverting to multipartism,” Dr Musumali said.
“He was there when MMD was being formed and he was one of the founders. And the National Party, he played a role in it when it was being formed. Talk about the PF, comrade Fred associated with them because of their proper policies at the time. There is no political party in Zambia where he has not played a role. So if Fred M’membe is willing to play a role in the Socialist Party he is most welcome.”
On whether or not the party was targeting specific groups in its recruitment including defense forces, Dr Musumali said such malice was meant to discredit the party.
He said it was also a sign that the Socialist Party was making an impact on the political scene.
“We read the story and after that we were written to by the Registrar of Societies. It was, and it is a malicious story meant to criminalise our activities. It is a way to discredit us, to create fear in the masses. And two, three days after that there was a lot of attention in the country. The minister of justice was threatening that we are committing treason. It is somehow a recognition that we are doing something,” he said.
“Definitely we want this system of capitalism crushed because it is exploitative.Yes, we are recruiting membership just like any other organisation. And we are offering training to the leadership and membership in terms of our values and ideology. Do we target specific sectors? No, we target Zambians. Army Generals, police officers who could be there, it’s because they are found in such a community and they are Zambians who want to participate in the affairs of their country. The possibility is always there that you will find such people among our members; they are free to join any political party. We don’t have the K60 000s that we are said to be giving every coordinator. We are shocked by this malice and we really don’t know the motive.”
On sustained attacks through stories from the same newspaper, describing the party as radical, Dr Musumali clarified that radicalism was needed to change any rotten system.
“Zambia today is a rotten society. our radicalism comes in the sense that we are saying no to the system. we are saying this has to be transformed. You can’t build society on the basis of corruption, greed, violence, no,” he emphasised.
“This is not what we want, we want a revolution, and that’s where our radicalism comes in because we are fed up of this rotten system, and only a revolution can work. For as long as Musumali is on Radio Phoenix it’s not okay. For as long as Musumali is in Kanyama, he’s in Mandevu recruiting members it becomes a problem. We are saying we do not want a capitalist system of exploitation.”
And responding to a caller who solicited his comment on President Edgar Lungu’s statement on the Copperbelt recently where he was literally encouraging PF members to steal from government, Dr Musumali said it was a shameful utterance.
“It reminds me of Mobutu Sese Seko who would always tell his generals to literally steal. It’s exactly the same mentally, same parasitic system. Our President is paying lip service, he’s blind to the sufferings. He’s basically saying steal, but don’t steal everything, leave something,” Dr Musumali said.
“It’s annoying, it’s disgusting. We don’t have a government, we have a bunch of greedy politicians. This system is greedy; it has nothing to do with personalities, it is the system which is greedy. Capitalism has never been kind to anyone. Join me one day as I meet our members and hear the reaction of the masses in the compounds. The nature of global capitalism today is that mining does not create jobs. One excavator takes up the jobs of 100 people.”
On the fight against corruption, Dr Musmulai observed that most people were not convinced that there was such commitment from the government.
“They don’t believe there is any significant fight against corruption. What we have today in Zambia is a bunch of politicians that are corrupt. There is no evidence of the fight against corruption. We have revelations from the Auditor General’s reports, and who has lot a job because of that? No one. We see how people are before they join politics, and we see them and what they become after joining politics. Is there any more evidence of corruption other than that? No!,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Musumali has observed that there could never be a serious reversal in fuel prices because of what he termed cartels in the supply chain.
Commenting on the recent fuel price increment by the government, Dr Musumali said a capitalist society would always grapple with reality.
“Again back to empty promises, back to rhetoric. The questions would be where are we going to get our next sources of energy in the next five years, 10 years, 100 years? We have a fairly good idea of that and we can project as a Socialist Party. We have the biofuels technology and this is a project we cannot neglect to cut on energy costs. Our estimate is that we push this to some 20, 25 per cent of our requirement in a 15 year period. And that would ease pressure on our petroleum,” said Dr Musumali.
“In other words, our heavy dependency on fuel makes us very vulnerable to changes on the international market. But there’s something more to it in Zambia that even when the prices are lower on global level the consumer doesn’t gain in any way. But when prices are high it’s almost automatic. This has to do with a cartel in the petroleum industry. It has also got to do with lack of investment in the petroleum infrastructure. Years back they did set up Indeni but it is not benefiting us as much. Indeni is not a proper refinery, it’s a separator. That’s why we do not get the benefits. “
Asked by a caller identified as Elvis on what type of socialism Zambia would espouse since the previous one had allegedly failed, Dr Musumali responded: “There’s no blueprint for coming up with socialism. It depends on the social and economic conditions of a society. So our conditions here will determine socialism in Zambia. We have been under the capitalist system for 500 years. The Scramble for Africa at a meeting held in Berlin in 1881, it was all under capitalism. So if you say we need more capitalism, we’ve had it for over 500 years, except for about 22 years when we experienced some social democratic tendencies. But then that’s not socialism per say. Zambians lost jobs under capitalism, public service has become poorer.”