Zambia: COS' Call to Shun Uhuru Celebrations Retrogressive

THIS week, I have been prompted to prematurely write about the golden jubilee-Independence celebrations that Zambia commemorates on October 24, this year.

This is in view of the statement issued by the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), whose general secretary Susanne Matale is quoted as having said the country had no cause to celebrate her golden Independence jubilee.

Rev Matale contended that this was because most Zambians were still living in poverty hence there was no logic and value in the country celebrating 50 years of Independence.

The statement by Rev Matale comes in the wake of other similar statements issued by leaders of opposition political parties, whom also have claimed that the country had no cause to celebrate independence anymore due to people suffering.

It is unfortunate that on the last few occasions, prominent opposition leaders have shunned Independence Day celebrations would be for the reason that several other citizens are poverty stricken.

President Michael Sata has offered an olive branch for the political community to participate in Independence Day celebrations as this symbolised national unity, but to no avail at all.

I consider the statements by these sections of the civil society as retrogressive because Zambians should have every reason to celebrate their emancipation from colonial rule.

Zambia, in my view, is a fast developing country which has scored major success in the crusade to fight poverty especially over the last two decades.

The country recently migrated from low to middle income status buoyed by effective strategies aimed at alleviating poverty.

Significant progress has also been made towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number one, which entails to "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" by 2015.

As everywhere else, the fight against poverty here has been rightly spearheaded by the Government in power, though, it should also be supported by all well meaning citizens: the church and political leaders included.

Government does not have to physically buy a bag of mealie meal and relish for every family in the country in the name of feeding the hungry; no!

There should be collaboration with the private sector in which the civil societies are active members.

Of course the Patriotic Front (PF) Government was ushered into office on the premise to alleviate poverty and make Zambia a better place for all.

But all the Governments past and present have contributed significantly to initiating programmes that support agriculture production to ensure food security.

Other indirect programmes such as decentralisation of education facilities, hospitals and other social economic structures have also been implemented all in the name of fighting poverty.

This has not been done by the PF alone as it had been the brainchild of the Movement for Multi Party Democracy (MMD) and the United National Independence Party (UNIP).

The right thing is for unity between Government and the civil society in the fight against poverty and finger pointing is not a solution in this regard.

Government alone can only do so much alone: Citizens must equally play their role to ensure that poverty is eliminated from all sections of our community.

I commend organisations like World Vision Zambia, the Rotary Club, the Lions Club and many others who have taken it upon themselves to offer aid to the poor in society.

The rural community have also massively benefited from donor aid through the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America among others.

Considering the above, I feel every Zambian has a right to celebrate Independence and this should not be dictated by any situation that has to do with the economy of our beloved country.

Not too long ago, neighbouring Zimbabwe has hit by serious financial turmoil which saw the depreciation of that country's currency by more than 100 per cent.

But never at any time did we hear that Zimbabweans have shunned independence celebrations.

I actually recall watching a clip on South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) channel where President Robert Mugabe addressed scores of Zimbabweans at an Independence Day festival in 2007.

Everyone seemed happy and Mr Mugabe assured them that things would soon turn around for the better and today, Zimbabwe's economy has stabilised.

It is important that the civil society in this country continue to play their role of reconciliation and offer suggestions that will promote unity in the nation.

A divided nation is a drawback to economic prosperity and if we all shunned the Independence celebrations, when will we ever be united as Zambians?

Are we all aware that it is only on October 24, when the slogan "One Zambia One Nation" is most prominent?

Let us be united as citizens and make this maiden Independence golden jubilee one to remember.

Send your comments and contributions to jameskunda91@gmail.com or call and text to 0964317110/0973182006.

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