The Oasis Forum says Zambia has been re-colonised by the African elite who have gradually imposed a dictatorship and formed an autocracy to subject the citizenry to the same type of rule they experienced more than 54 years ago.

And the Forum says Zambians must now struggle to regain the country’s independence and economic freedom, the same arduous task it had more than 54 years ago before it gained the initial Independence from Britain.

In a communique issued to News Diggers! Tuesday, ahead of the Independence Day celebration in Lusaka, Oasis Forum chairperson Eddie Mwitwa said the similarities with the colonial system of government with the current regime are startling, adding that the country now has government of the elite, by the elite, for the elite.

“On 24th October, 1964, Zambia woke up from the nightmare of colonialism and found itself living the dream of democracy. The nightmare had been a prolonged period of apartheid, in a country run by a privileged white elite where Africans were second-class citizens. By contrast, Independence brought the dream of equality of opportunity, not only to employment, but also to political power. This ideal was to be achieved largely by the principle of equality of access to education and to all the other services made available by the State; a government of the people, by the people, for the people. In a number of ways, we, as a nation, made some positive slides over the years to inculcate a democratic culture in our country and deliver unto ourselves a better Zambia. A land of work and joy, where women and men can stand and sing, freely and proudly,” read the statement.

“But gradually, over a period of 54 years, the dream has slipped away and the nightmare has gradually returned. But not entirely in the same form; instead of a ruling white elite, we now have a ruling African elite. Instead of an imposed colonial dictatorship, we instead have a locally-grown autocracy. Otherwise, the similarities with the colonial system of government are quite startling: a government of the elite, by the elite, for the elite. Some of the essential features of our present nightmare are as follows; 1. Erosion of Equality of Opportunity. In the early days of Independence, people ascended to positions of power and influence mainly on the basis of selection by merit, especially as measured by educational achievement. But nowadays, the elite class is largely self-perpetuating from one generation to the next, with the elite purchase of expensive education, and with the intra-elite selection for employment and promotion. Elite class membership now supersedes educational level.”

“2. Lack of separation of powers can especially be seen between the Executive and Parliament, where the ruling party typically has an overwhelming majority so that Parliament becomes a rubber stamp for Executive decisions, and has virtually abdicated its primary role of holding power to account. Whereas the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Commission and the Technical Committee on the Drafting of the Zambian Constitution established that people wanted a separation of powers by having ministers appointed from outside Parliament, Parliament itself quashed this popular demand as part of its wholesale ‘amending’ of the Draft Constitution in 2016,” Mwitwa narrated.

And Mwitwa added that Zambians now must struggle to regain the country’s independence and economic freedom.

“And wealth, unlike whiteness, has to be constantly maintained. But wealth is not merely a matter of social prestige, it is also necessary for maintaining a system of patrimony, especially a corrupt system of maintaining the political support of big business by giving contracts, favours and concessions. Perhaps even more expensive is the cost of buying votes during election time, involving both the cost of bribing voters and the cost of various forms of election rigging. All of these three aspects of ruling class maintenance involve massive theft from the public purse,” stated Mwitwa.

“All the above seven aspects of the nightmare point to different aspects of our long 54-year slippage from Independence and freedom into dependence and dictatorship. By the same token, all of these seven aspects of the nightmare point to different aspects of our slippage from constitutional government and the rule of law into the repression of a police state. We broke free from a colonial white elite, but have instead gradually fallen into the hands of a local ruling elite that has imposed a similar system of oppression and dictatorship. We call upon all citizens, including politicians, members of parliament, the Judiciary, civil servants and the Church to wake up and recognize the nightmare. The momentous task at hand is the struggle to regain our independence.”

Mwitwa further stated that Zambia’s current debt burden has seriously eroded the economic and political independence and taken away the country’s sovereignty, with poverty levels as high as they were back in colonial days.

The communique was signed by Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa, Council of Churches General Secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya, NGOCC chairperson Sara Longwe and Zambia Council for Catholic Bishops Secretary-General Cleophas Lungu.