Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA
“LET us go back to the unity we had during the liberation struggle. Even then we had differences, but we chose to put our differences aside to pursue the common goal of liberating the country from the oppressive colonial rule.” These are the words of veteran politician and freedom fighter Sikota Wina.
Mr Wina says Zambia needs the kind of unity and selflessness demonstrated by freedom fighters during the liberation struggle to address the country’s economic challenges.
Certainly, this is an apt message for this year’s Independence celebrations.
As we commemorate 54 years of Independence today, let us reflect deeply on Mr Wina’s wise counsel.
We cannot be content that 54 years after Independence we are still classified as a developing country.
It cannot be business as usual when five decades after Independence, over 60 percent of the population is living below the poverty datum line with 42 percent classified as extremely poor.
Fifty four years after Independence Zambians still have to gallop around the globe in search of specialised medical care.
Our manufacturing base is still at its weakest with high unemployment levels. Youths are the most affected by unemployment at 10.5 percent above the national average of 7.4 percent.
After all these years we are still struggling to diversify our economy as a way of reducing our over dependence on copper as a source of foreign currency revenue.
While we have witnessed tremendous progress in the area of infrastructure development in the last seven years, much more still needs to be done to reach a state where Zambia can be classified a developed country.
By virtue of being independent, it means Zambians now have access to the country’s natural resources which were under the control of the colonial masters.
It also means Zambians have the freedom to make political, social and economic decisions to drive the development of the country.
In other words political freedom is supposed to provide a base on which to build the country’s economic prosperity and development.
While there are many factors that contribute to development, I believe disunity and a culture of politicking about everything have negatively impacted the country’s development agenda.
It is a sad reality that some Zambians and politicians in particular fail to distinguish their personal or political interest from national interest.
This is why our politicians cannot find common ground on issues of national importance. For instance, today’s celebrations cut across tribal, religious and political divide and should therefore unite all Zambians.
Similarly, economic challenges should unite Zambians in search of solutions.
As rightly noted by Mr Wina, today’s generation should emulate the selflessness and unity demonstrated by our founding fathers during the struggle for independence if the country is to attain economic freedom.
Instead of pulling in different directions when faced with hard economic times, government, politicians, civil society, business community, the church, scholars and all citizens in general should unite and put their heads together to find solutions.
Unity of purpose is what helped our founding fathers to deliver the independence we are celebrating today.
It should be known to the current generation that the same way the founding fathers shouldered the responsibility to liberate the country from political bondage, it also duty bound to deliver economic freedom.
However, this is only possible if the current generation embraces the level of unity and selflessness our founding fathers demonstrated during the liberation struggle.
Our founding fathers also had personal interests and differences which could have hindered their fight for independence, but they were humble and selfless enough to recognise that national interest was paramount.
Today’s generation needs to humble itself and recognise that Zambia is bigger than any individual or political party by putting priorities right.
If this generation fails to deliver economic emancipation, posterity will surely judge it harshly.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.
Analysis: EMELDA MUSONDA