It is that our elections last year on the 12th of August, were a protest vote against the chronic hunger, extreme poverty, widespread unemployment, grotesque inequalities which are the conditions of more than 70 percent of Zambians. True, the Patriotic Front (PF) and their president Edgar Chagwa Lungu had become small gods terrorising everybody not worshiping them, flouting their ill-gotten wealth, destroying whatever credibility in our government institutions which had survived 30 years of neo-liberaldecay; many Zambians wanted them out of government. But, for whom are elections and liberal democracy in Zambia?
We must all defend our human rights and basic freedoms. These are not gifts given to human beings by politicians in government; they are what define and give meaning to human life. Without them, even on a full stomach, a human being is not complete. To think freely, to have or not to have a religion, a faith or any beliefs, to freely express one’s thoughts and opinions in whatever form, to assemble with others to further any legal aims, to associate with others to further common social and political objectives, to freely move and settle anywhere, to vote, to be eligible to be elected into any office, to secure employment and so on, are, all taken together, indivisible basic human rights every human being has simply because they are human.
To have a name, citizenship, a family, a community, education, work, shelter, food, clothes, air, water, health, culture, leisure, and all other material and immaterial resources essential and necessary for a full life are all basic human rights every human being must have. Governments must promote, secure, defend and promote these rights for all human beings. Taken together, combined, all these human rights and more make for a full human life; a life lived under conditions in which justice, peace, and therefore happiness and love can flourish among human beings. Take away even a small fraction from any of these rights and injustice, ignorance, inequalities, poverty, unemployment, anger, hatred, violence and wars and many such evils suddenly appear, in human societies.
These basic rights are neither from the East, West, South nor North. They are neither African, European, Asian, or any race. They are simply what make every human being a human being: subtract anything from any of them, and you sow the seeds for all sorts of evil in human societies.
We now know that in every human heart beats the desire to live a full life complete with all the basic human rights described above, and most sane human beings want justice, freedom, peace, and love. They want a life lived in happiness. Most human beings want to be recognised and respected as fully human, and truly alive. This is not possible if any of their basic human rights is taken away, by other human beings or governments.
One has to be an incredibly unique mental retard to fail to understand that it is impossible to have, and enjoy, as an individual, all these rights alone, outside human society, isolated. It is impossible to be fully human, and to live, alone. Human beings consummate all their basic human rights only in communion, in a community, with other human beings. If we keep in mind that to be human means to have all these rights without any of them diminished, this means we can only be truly fully alive and human when we live in a community composed of human beings all whom have all these rights, without exception! We Zambians are very familiar with how unhappy inside one is, if one, alone, succeeds in a family of poor members. You may decide to physically isolate yourself from everyone in your family to avoid sharing their problems with you but you cannot erase them, every second of your life, from your mind, from your conscience and consciousness. This simply erases the possibility of you, the only successful one, being truly happy all the time. This is a very simple basic truth: only those truly selfish and without empathy, and therefore actually evil, can live happily surrounded by poor struggling people.
We humans are defined also by the conditions of life of other human beings, no matter how near or far away and remote these other human beings may be, from us. From birth to death, we need each other, everyone fully human because they have all their basic rights intact, to truly live a full and enjoyable happy life, together. To be happy alone because you alone have most of the basic rights when many do not have them is what we learn in society, it is not intrinsic to who we are. To sustain the fake façade of pretended happiness and peace is what “liberal democracy” is all about, Western liberal democracy.
Born at the same time in human history in the part of the World today called “Western Europe” when individuals could suddenly amass more wealth than kings and queens, “liberal democracy” is the belief centred on individual selfishness and private greed – it is the idea that the individual in society is supreme, largely the white male individual too. This is the period in human history when white men who were not part of royal families begun to be very rich, and hated the idea that rich as they were, they were still controlled and lead by those who inherited wealth and political power through bloodlines, through monarchies.
It is true that it is repugnant and simply false the idea that because you are born in any royal family, including the British royal family, you are any different as a human being say, from a beggar or street child in Lusaka! You are all human beings, and to be at peace, if you have a conscience, you must fight and remove the conditions of life which make many children available to begging in Zambia. “Liberalism” also arose to assuage the sense of guilty of the selfish, greedy and evil human beings who amass wealth at the expense of other human beings. The Queen of England, you see, is no more or less human than the dirtiest ash mouthed street urchin in Lusaka, Zambia, no matter what the Queen thinks, or feels: they are both human beings, both desire justice, peace, love and happiness: they are equal!
The majority of impoverished Zambians on the 12th of August last year voted actually to abolish the life diminishing conditions of namelessness because one is a street child, denial of economic and social citizenship because one is poor, absence of a functional happy and loving family because everyone is always hungry and because no one around them has a job, nor can they find one. They voted to belong to a peaceful productive community and for education, decent housing, enough money to buy clothes, clean air, safe high-qualitywater, access to quality health services, culture, leisure, and all other material and immaterial resources essential and necessary for a full life: Zambians voted for all basic human rights.
Sadly, and unfortunately, Zambia is a faded version of a carbon copy of “liberal democracy” – we can never be original because the world’s true liberals – the world’s billionaires – have already curved up the Earth for themselves and consigned us to a parasitic existence on the crumbs which fall from their tables after they make massive profits from our natural resources and cheap labour. Our elections are a means to select among us the ones who can best supervise us, as a country and poor economy but natural resource rich, on behalf of the world’s true liberals: the global millionaires and billionaires.
True, the national political climate is less violent, and some of our political rights taken away from us appear to have been restored. Many parents are happy their children can go to primary and secondary schools without them directly paying school fees. Young people among the 40,000 plus people employed in our public health and education sectors must be happy too. There is the expanded value of the Constituency Development Fund – it ignites hope in many young hearts; if only they can access it.
But, sadly, our version of “liberal democracy” designed to enrich a few through the votes of the many remains our singular obstacle to unlocking our collective national genius and potential to give every Zambian a full life.
(Send comments to: [email protected])