Who is Dr. Cosmas Musumali?

Dr. Cosmas Musumali on Comet FM

PhD Economist. Writer. Socialist. Zambian.

Welcome to the Official Biography and Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) of Dr. Cosmas Musumali.

Here you can learn who I am, what I believe in and how we can make Zambia better for all its people.

Please use the links below to navigate to the information you are interested in. Any questions that are not covered can be posted in the comment section below. I will do my best to answer them.

If you are with a local or international media institution and want to interview me about economic development, politics and socialism in Zambia please contact me directly.

Thank you for your time. Let’s make Zambia a fairer and better country for everybody.

Who Are You Doc?

For many Zambians, you seem to have just emerged from nowhere. Please tell us more about yourself. Who are you?

Answer: It is not possible to emerge from nowhere. I have my footprints in the cooperative movement of the 1980s, the NGO world focused on poverty eradication, the fight against HIV, the strengthening of policy research, development of health policies and building of viable health systems, in the circles of Zambian economists and many more. I will soon celebrate my 57th birthday and I married some 31 years ago. My wife originates from Siegen, Germany and I am a father to 3 boys.

Of course I have had to answer questions related to inter-racial marriages. The irony is that I had never given it much thought: I was a revolutionary young man who fell in love and married – period. Race or ethnicity did not and have never mattered. Once I had made my choice of a wife, I expected and requested the whole world to respect my decision. The benefits and challenges of such a union are essentially the same as those of any other marriage – except the additional dimension of living and appreciating a multi-cultural family environment.

 

What Are Your Qualifications?

Where did You go to Primary and Secondary School? Did You Serve in ZNS? 

Answer: I began school just as Zambia attained independence. I was therefore a beneficiary of the inclusive education policies and investments that were made by the new independent government of Zambia. I went to school at Sancta Maria Mission, Lukulu for my primary and St Columbus also in Lukulu for my junior secondary education.

I then proceeded to Kalabo Secondary School where I completed my senior secondary education in 1976. Immediately upon completion, I was drafted in the then compulsory “school leavers” Zambia National Service (ZNS).

I underwent military training at Kafue, then served at the ZNS Skills Camp in Kabwe and was later redeployed to the guarding of vital installations around Lusaka. I left ZNS in August 1977 to pursue studies at the University of Zambia (UNZA).

Where Did You Go to University? How Did You Learn About Socialism? Do You Have a PhD? 

Answer: I was at UNZA, School of Social Sciences, for part of my undergraduate studies. I shared a room with a late colleague (Mukuka) in a hostel called Kwacha 1 (Room 12). It was at UNZA that I was introduced to Marxism-Leninism and it was a seed that fell on fertile ground. As a child, I was always intrigued by the historical excesses and apparent irrationality of slavery, colonialism, racism and inequity. For the first time, I was finding resonating answers in a philosophy and political ideology.

However, I only stayed two years at UNZA – in 1979 I was awarded a scholarship to continue my studies at the Philips University, Marburg in the then West Germany. Prior to the actual studies, I had to undergo German language courses in the towns of Gottingen and Rotenberg.

Marburg town became my intellectual and political home for more than a decade: I studied up to PhD level in economics, was a member of the West German communist student wing, an active member of the Anti-apartheid movement and was highly involved in the support networks for the liberation movements and socialist formations in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  It was a memorable, historical and formative period.

Dr Musumali, people from academia or the highly educated or elites with the exception of very few Zambians like Dr. Katele Kalumba have succeeded in politics with respect to amassing popularity. Amidst his corruptions cases Dr Katele managed to win the MMD National Secretary position with a landslide beating Akashambatwa and Vernon Mwaanga at their MMD convention.

Answer: Indeed, the type of education we went through often alienates us from the masses. It does not prepare us for the rough edges and irrationality of the political process and actors. There are exceptions and I will be one of them.

 

So You Are An Economist? Tell Me More…

What spurred your interest in economics?

Answer: Economics was never on my radar screen when I left secondary school. I was inspired by the African writers’ series and wanted to be an author. I was admitted into university under the school of natural sciences. After two weeks of consultations and career counselling, I changed to economics – hoping that this was a compromise that would later still allow me to write books about the everyday lives of our people. Well, overtime, I got hooked to economics and it has been a long journey of discovery.

Some people understand economics as just being about GDP growth and inflation. Can you tell us, or give us an example on how economics works for an everyday person?

Answer: GDP and inflation – together with employment and net exports are indeed central measures of macroeconomic performance. But that is one side of what is referred to as macro-economics, the other being the requisite instruments – fiscal policy, monetary policy, income policies and the foreign component that constitutes external trade and exchange rate policies.

It would be a great achievement if just GDP and inflation were properly understood. What constitutes the Zambian GDP? Where is it created? What is its distribution amongst income quartiles – a measure of inequity? How has Zambian GDP evolved over the past 50 years? How is the informal sector captured? Based on what is called the factor prices for labour, land, capital plus profit, who has gained most from GDP growth of the past decade?

The same goes for price-level stability or inflation; there are 100s of considerations that need to be factored in its understanding. Of course economics touches every sphere of human life and decision making: What vocational skills should we prioritise in Luapula Province over the next 10 years? Should the livestock peasant farmers in Sikongo District sell live animals across the border into Angola or open a cooperative abattoir that will supply chilled cuts to butcheries in Lumbala Ngimbu and surrounding towns of Eastern Angola?

Should the retirement age be fixed at 55 or 65 years? All these are questions that warrant economic analysis under a branch called micro-economics.

Further, there are normative questions that have to be answered; for example, is more equitable income distribution good for economic growth?

Indeed, what would you say to the last question?

Answer: I acknowledge that positive incentives are critical in rewarding individual efforts and innovation, but the excessive inequality like we have experienced over the past 24 years in Zambia compromise the chances for broad-based growth, undermine access to health and education by the masses of our people and has significantly created an environment for political and economic instability.

At the global level, economists have been trying to understand better the links between rising inequality and the fragility of economic growth. One of the latest ground breaking studies by a team of IMF staff takes a look at historical cross country data to analyse the relationship between inequality, redistribution, and growth. In particular the macroeconomic effects of redistributive policies.

The findings are that Inequality leads to slow and unsustainable growth. On the other hand, redistribution, and the associated reduction in inequality are robustly associated with higher and more durable growth. This has been the stand of socialists for decades and it is now being validated by empirical evidence.

You are a highly respected global health economist, what made you venture into this area of economics, rather than pursue the more financially lucrative branches of the discipline?

Answer: Zambia and its people come first – before my own personal comfort. As earlier alluded to, the precarious health status of our people was my driving force.

 

What Was Your Career Before Politics?

What Work Experience Do You Have?

Answer: My professional work experience stretches over a 30 year-period in government, NGOs and international institutions and projects. I have lectured in colleges/universities, provided consultancy services, researched, served as an advisor, and managed development projects covering countries in east, central and southern Africa.

My emphasis was initially towards adding value to the academic and developmental work in the area of cooperatives and poverty alleviation. However, with the emergency of the HIV pandemic and having lost my own brothers and sisters due to AIDS, it became a moral obligation to get involved. I increasingly shifted into health economics and policy.

Subsequently, I have spent the past 20 years contributing to the strengthening of health systems in Zambia and a number of other African countries. The bottom line of my professional life is that I only ventured in an area when I was convinced of effecting real change in the lives of the masses.

What Did You Achieve While Working?

Answer: With regard to achievements, I can point to the development of not less than 30 health policies in various countries in which I played the leading or significant role; to several projects that I helped design; and to thousands of lives that were saved through HIV, TB, maternal health, child health, nutrition, and other health services delivered with support of the projects under my leadership.

At the personal level, the smiles and everyday humane gestures of communities, own staff, government officials and staff of international institutions were a huge bonus. It has always been gratifying and humbling when beneficiary communities say “thank you” or a family names its child “Cosmas” in appreciation of a perceived positive change one has made in their lives.

The challenges and frustrations have been many: Working with donors can be daunting and calls for high levels of perseverance; Government protocol can be sickening and the responsiveness comes often at snail pace; the needs of the poor and marginalised are huge – and the modus operands of 3 to 5-year projects is highly ill-suited to effect lasting change.

 

Why has Capitalism Failed? Why is Socialism the Answer?

What would you say to those that argue that there are no alternatives to free market capitalism, as we know it today? Can you give us some examples?

Answer: In historical terms, capitalism is a relatively new phenomenon – it is not natural, it was created on the ruins of the feudal order. Its values – nation state, liberty, private property and “free” market were and are revolutionary compared to the absolutism of monarchs. But it is a class and exploitative system.

To use the words of a 1930 Hungarian economist, Karl Polanyi, capitalism and the market mechanism cannot be left alone to determine the fate of human beings, their natural environment or even of the amount and use of purchasing power. Without the protective power of cultural institutions, human beings would suffer acute social dislocation, nature would be reduced to its elements with neighbourhoods and landscapes defiled, rivers polluted, and the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed.

Today we are experiencing the breakdown of society on our continent. In the 1960s and early 70s, some social gains were made in health, education, transportation and nutrition – supported mainly by public funding. Then came the collapse of commodity prices, with the prices of the major 33 commodities falling by half from 1980 to 1991.

The result was a decline in per-capita income, eradication of trade surpluses, a rapid increase in foreign debt, heavy external borrowing and resulting fiscal crises. In trying to address this crisis, the international lending institutions forced African governments into ill-informed structural adjustment and economic liberalisation programmes.

The continent’s picture is today littered with the failure of capitalism: The rise of ethnic-based regrouping and emergence of fundamentalism, widespread unemployment and marginalisation, social conflict and civil strife and thousands of young people drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in an attempt to escape hunger, poverty and social ills induced by a naked brand of neo-liberal capitalism. Neo-liberal capitalism is creating social and economic havoc that is unprecedented in recent African history.

The alternative to the failures of capitalism is the socialist approach that is currently transforming millions of lives of the masses on the Latin American continent. Africa has, therefore, to quickly learn from what is going on in Central and Latin America. There are a lot of mistakes being made by the socialist governments in Latin America and we are drawing useful insights from them. But the situation of the workers, peasants and marginalised indigenous populations and those of African descent is far much better compared to 20 years ago.

Socialist policies have uplifted millions of citizens from abject poverty throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It can do the same for Zambians!

As an economist, what can you say are the major failings of capitalism? How do these failures affect the lives of ordinary people?

Answer: Capitalism fails the ordinary people in areas that matter most: 1) Access to quality education for every child – regardless of the economic status of the parents, 2) access to quality health care for all citizens; 3) building of an economy that guarantees food and decent housing to all its citizens; 4) genuine grass roots participation in political life – as against the fake democracy orchestrated in corporate boardrooms.

Are you a socialist?

Answer: Yes I am!

Why socialism? In what ways would socialism as an alternative polity benefit the everyday Zambian?

Answer: The masses of the Zambian people have had their dignity taken away, the country’s national resources plundered and a parasitic state apparatus entrenched within their territory. Their daily struggle is directed against the manifestations of neo-liberal capitalism.

If socialism is not the answer, then there is no answer at all to their misery!

The people of Zambia can look up to socialism that is based on their own experiences and collective wisdom. Every Zambian child requires the best education this country is able to provide; every ill Zambian requires the best care and treatment we are able to provide; peasant farmers require urgent, systematic support to increase productivity and contribute to national food security and diversification of the export base; and the Zambian worker requires a work environment worthy of a 21st century human being and not of a 17th Century slave.

There is a tendency in some quarters to conflate socialism with autocratic rule, what would you say to this?

Answer: Serious shortcomings and mistakes were made in some past socialist experiments, especially in Eastern Europe. These have enriched the diet of propaganda against anything socialism.

But why not reverse the questions: Was the fascist, apartheid regime in South Africa not autocratic? Was Mobutu Seseko’s government not autocratic? Was Kamuzu Banda’s government not autocratic? Was Bokasa’s government not autocratic? Was Chile under Pinochet not autocratic? Was any of these socialist? Were all these governments not supported by the so-called developed democracies of the West? How would you describe todays Egypt? Saud Arabia? The United Arab Emirate? Kuwait?

What of business and socialism? Are the two compatible?

Answer: Every modern economy has to run business. But I guess your question is whether a socialist society has space for private business!

Capitalism and private businesses were not built in a day. For 100s of years, feudal arrangements co-existed with the emerging capitalist order. Similarly, socialism will not be built overnight. Private businesses will still be there.

The question is which aspects of the economy should be socialised and which ones have to remain under private capital?

What does it mean to be a socialist business? Can you direct our readers to successful examples?

Answer: There are predominantly three forms of socialist business: Cooperatives, workers’ councils and state enterprises. One of the global leading IT corporations, Huawei is a successful Chinese state enterprise.

Theoretically, it is argued that socialism will succeed capitalism after capitalism has created a lot of wealth to be shared among many. Do you think Zambia has already created too much wealth to be distributed free of charge as socialism propounds?

Answer: No, that is not what socialism states!

It sounds like some capitalist fairy tales: European and American agriculture produces surplus food, yet you have growing numbers of hungry people in those countries; the housing booms and unrented housing units stand side by side with growing numbers of homeless people; excess medical equipment and supplies are produced but millions of people have no guaranteed access to health care.

Capitalism does not produce goods and services to satisfy the needs of the entire population, the profit motive and greed are the catalysts.

The capitalist countries that perform better in this regard are those that adopt some socialist or social democratic economic management tools. These include the Nordic countries and Singapore.

Most capitalist nations have amassed too much wealth that they are able to share amongst their people through the provision of affordable and sometimes almost free services that include unemployment benefits, free education and so on. Is this bad? Don’t you think all Zambia needs is to create wealth by defining its own way of fitting into a capitalist world like other countries like China, India, Brazil, Russia and others East Asian countries have done?

Answer: How did the capitalist countries amass their wealth?

Let us take the USA: This is a country that was stolen from the indigenous people, built on the blood and sweat of African slaves, industrialised behind a curtain of protectionist policies and legislation, it is an economy that continues to benefit from global brain drain and its finance capital is one of the most reckless and exploitative in human history.

It is impossible and not even desirable to take the American developmental trajectory.

Zambia has directly been part of the global capitalist system since about 1890 – it was colonised by a capitalist company, the British South African Company owned by some economic gangster called Cecil Rhodes, then by Britain, and we have remained a periphery capitalist enclave since then – except for a short period between 1968 and 1990 when some measures towards economic nationalism were tried. Therefore capitalism is not new to Zambia.

China would not be where it is today if the communist party had not destroyed the foundations of the archaic feudal institutions and made massive investments in education, health, infrastructure, science and technology. The same goes for Russia.Thanks to President Lula’s socialist reforms and redistributive policies, Brazil has also made some significant social progress over the past decade.

What explains the situation that developing countries that adopted the capitalist mode of running the economy are more advanced than most countries that adopted socialism? Take the case of Singapore, Malaysia and many more.

Answer: Russia or the Soviet Union was literary a developing country that became a military superpower within two generations; China is now the second largest world economy and its seeds of success did not just emerge in the 1980s; Cuba still has some of the best social indicators world-wide.

Cuba is a small island, with a relatively small economy and has massively suffered from an economic embargo for decades, but its socialist policies have created a more equitable society. Today, most of our countries are benefiting from Cuba’s advances in education and bio-medical sciences.

Where would Singapore be today if President Lee had not adopted socialist tools and methods in education, housing, health and use of state firms for key sectors of the economy?

If capitalism is a solution for African countries, then what happened to Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote de Ivoire, Congo, Malawi and the majority of the African countries that had always remained true to capitalism? Did they advance?

Some would argue that your propagation of socialism is old-fashioned, theoretical and has no place in the 21st century apart  and their evidence is based on Russia and China than can still not be purely defined as socialist countries and seem to be fitting in well in a capitalist society. Your comment?

Answer: Then most of Latin American countries (except for 4) are old fashioned! What is old fashioned with stating that we would like to provide the best possible education to every Zambian child?

Should we find pleasure in the abject poverty Zambians have been driven in over the past 24 years? What do we have to show under capitalism in Zambia since the 1890s?

Why would the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, openly declare that capitalism is an evil system and the number one enemy of the church?

In fact, it is the naked neo-liberal capitalism as practiced in Zambia today that has no place in the 21st century.

Cuba the country that for several years has been seen as a near example of a socialist state is moving towards capitalism. Where does this put your politics if countries that were seen as a model of a socialist/communist state are slowly espousing capitalism?

Answer: Cuba has been true to socialism and is not moving towards capitalism. I have followed every development plan, national budget and economic policy enacted by the communist party over the past 30 years. The rapprochement with the USA is in both countries interests and it does not signify capitulation. If anything, we will soon see significant growth of the Cuban economy over the years to come.

Some people are saying, socialism and capitalism are two competing forces and it is clear for all to see that capitalism has emerged victorious. They give a clear case of the fall of the USSR and many others. What will make a party succeed in propagating socialism that as failed as a mode of creating wealth and prosperity for the people.

Answer: Such a statement fails to appreciate what was achieved under the USSR and the inherent weaknesses of the soviet model of socialism. It also negates the success in China and Cuba. Further, it ignores the value addition and success of Latin American socialist movements and political parties over the past 15 years. It is an ill-informed opinion.

Though the definition of democracy should not be unilateral or one-size-fits-all, it is argued that most countries/leaders (China, North Korea, Cuba, Russia, and some former Eastern European/USSSR countries) that espoused socialism/communism were crude dictators. In most socialist countries that seem to be the model for your party might be viewed this way because of evidence. What is your comment?

Answer: I guess the term crude dictators would fit most middle-eastern countries. All these are capitalist countries running more or less like family franchises. Should we then conclude that all capitalist countries are run by crude dictators? Is the socialist Bolivian President, Morales, a crude dictator?

Socialism is viewed as an academic exercise  in futility as it is trying to take people backwards instead of finding solutions on how best to fit into the current capitalist mode of economic development like other emerging economies in Latin America, Asia and some African countries like Rwanda, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania and many others have done. Your comment?

Answer: The experimentation with neo-liberal capitalism over the past 24 years has reversed the few social gains that were made after independence in Zambia.

Today, the social indicators for health and education are worse than those of 1985. Malnutrition and stunting are worse off today than in 1985. Child mortality is higher today. School progression indicators have declined. Education outcomes have drastically worsened – to amongst the lowest globally. Even economic indicators such as for employment and headcount poverty are far inferior to those of 1985.

Over the past 5 years, I have worked and lived in East, central and southern Africa and the trends are the same. The economic growth rates are not translating into poverty alleviation and sustainable livelihoods. It is a model of growth that enriches a tiny segment of the population and throws the masses of the people into abject poverty.

Some scholars argue that Nordic countries seem to have implemented socialist policies very well despite espousing the capitalist mode of economic growth and development. Can’t this be a good model that Zambia can learn from?

Answer: There is a lot to learn from the Nordic countries. Our social and economic programme alludes to some areas where such learning is possible. But there can never be a foreign model that would work for Zambia – each country has unique history and characteristics. Our socialist programme for Zambia is premised on this understanding.

Most political parties, if not all, in Zambia espouse socialist policies. What makes your party different from socialist parties like the Patriotic Front, the UPND and others with socialist manifestos?

Answer: Has any of these other political parties openly told the Zambians voters that they aim at building a socialist Zambia?

Naked neo-liberal capitalism, greed and corruption do not sell at all. That is why they include a sentence or two in their manifestoes depicting social democratic or socialist aspects. None of them believes in socialism and the inert value of each human being. It is hypocrisy of the highest order.

The same parties are today attacking us for declaring that we are socialists and want a socialist Zambia! Their real aims have neither been to do away with neo-liberal capitalism nor ensure that the workers, peasants and the poor of this country regain their dignity.

If your party is to form government someday in a non-influential country at global level, how will it fit its socialism ideology into the capitalist global world of the United Nations, World Bank, IMF, World Trade Organisation, the European Union that promote cut-throat capitalism.

Answer: This is an area we have given a lot of thought to. Our social and economic programme encompasses some of the insights we have gained from the diverse global developments over the years. We are also cognizant of the dynamics in the global capitalist economy and will be ready to make tactical and strategic adjustments without compromising our fundamental principles. Scenario building is a critical element of our thinking as a party.

 

Foreign Investment, Your Vision for Zambia and the Future

What of foreign direct investment? What would be its relation to society and the state under a socialist government?

Answer: FDI would still be needed to complement domestic resources. But it will be better targeted and guided in creating a stable, diversified, resilient economy benefiting the majority Zambians.

How do you hope to manage the extractive industry especially mining? Are you going to nationalise the mining companies?

Answer: The extractive industry lacks transparency. This is by design. The country is therefore losing millions of tax revenue.

In the short term, our party will introduce technical, marketing and financial monitoring arrangements aimed at enhancing sector transparency, taxation compliance as well as protection of the workers. This applies to both large and small scale.

Effective taxation of this sector is critical in generating resources for infrastructure, social development and diversification of the export base.

We also intend to introduce – in a phased way and stretching over a period of 5 years – a local content minimum requirement of manufactured inputs.

Under this policy requirement, 20% of all components and supplies (excluding labour and raw materials) for the operations of the extractive sector will have to be Zambian. This is aimed at supporting the emergency of a local manufacturing base whose products meet international standards for mining operations as well as create the requisite skilled jobs.

In the long term, we will build state capacities in managing, processing and marketing of mineral products. New mines to be developed thereafter will have enhanced public ownership.

There is a general consensus that the state has stopped working for the people, and that people need to work for themselves. In what ways do you imagine, or hope that a socialist state would work for the people, and help them work better for themselves?

Answer: By providing Zambians with access to quality education, better health care, and an environment under which peasant agriculture can enhance productivity and prosper. Encouraging of grassroots participation in decision making, a zero tolerance to corruption and a fair judicial system will all help Zambians to work better and more productively.

In your opinion, in what areas should the state invest the majority of its resources in?

Answer: Education, health and peasant agriculture.

What would you say to the statement that Zambians are socialist in their everyday lives?

Answer: No longer. A good proportion of our people have fallen prey to the capitalist values of greed, individualism and consumerism.  Hard work will be required to reclaim the “socialist nature” and lay the foundations of a 21st century Zambian socialist society.

 What worries you the most about Zambia’s future? What keeps you optimistic?

Answer: The “lost generation” of the youth without education and skills worry me most and I am optimistic about the resilience of our people in overcoming adversity.

Can Zambia’s economic challenges be attributed to espousing neo-liberalism in 1991? Do you think Zambia would be better off today had it continued on KK’s socialist path?

Answer: It was inevitable that UNIP and KK had to go. I was personally against the monolithic party that UNIP had become and the immense irrationality that had creeped in its ranks. But I was also disgusted that the new movement (MMD) went to bed with Apartheid South Africa and even got money from the fascists; I was appalled by the naïve trust in “free market” forces and stripping off of the country economic assets; the neglect of peasant farmers services – such veterinary services, research, marketing arrangements; It was painful to see unabated corruption and lawlessness take over within a couple of years; and the spirit of “one Zambia, one nation” being thrown away. It was figuratively an act of jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Despite various economic challenges that Zambia is facing, there seem to be some progress that has been made with respect to infrastructure development. This is a route towards economic prosperity as you first start by building your economic infrastructural base before you could easily provide affordable social services.  For instance, only UNZA used to train most experts, say in medicine, now CBU has  a medical school, Mulungushi University is about to open one, Cavendish University Zambia and Apex University are running medical schools. This is an indication that liberalisation  has opened more opportunities for business. Your comment?

Answer: That would be a misrepresentation of Zambian history.  You are comparing a country of 3.6 million people with one of 15 million today! Why not compare the social indicators? Check how the Human development Index has fared over the years – we have deteriorated compared to the period before liberalisation.

Even on a one-to one comparison, the picture looks horrible for the last 24 years.

Despite being surrounded by enemy colonial governments and having the only reliable supply routes cut off, the Zambian government worked hard to build the first university (1966), 40 secondary schools (one in each district), the UTH and several hospitals and 100s of health centres,  ZAMTAN, TANZARA, Indeni Oil refinery, Kafironda explosives, Kafue Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia, Kafue Textiles, motor assembly plant in Livingstone, the first two international standard hotels (i.e. Lusaka and Livingstone intercontinental hotels), Lusaka International airport, airports and airstrips in over 20 districts,  Kafue Gorge Hydropower Station, ZANACO and may others.

All this was achieved in a period of about 12 years and under very difficult conditions. Give me 5 significant industries that have been facilitated over the past 24 years under the neo-liberal capitalist approach? The country has merely become a huge suction pump for south African retail chain stores and products. The economy has been de-industrialised.

There is a boom in the construction industry as many people are building houses of their own which was not possible when the state used to provide accommodation to all. People can build very decent houses now than ever before. This is a great contribution to the country’s GDP. Your comment?

Answer: Zambia is not Lusaka! There are hardly any significant numbers of decent houses being built by individuals in Chama, Chadiza, Maamba, Kalomo, Limulunga, Kabompo, Mpongwe and most districts in Zambia.

Even those building in Lusaka – most of the housing areas are without proper roads, water reticulation and sewer systems, the housing units are haphazardly connected to the electricity grid, no space is provided for sports facilities, parks, schools, clinics, community centres and public libraries.

It is a highly chaotic development divorced from any form of city planning. The local Government authorities have been weakened by design and now neglect their core responsibilities in facilitating such developments.

Similarly, hundreds of thousands of people in compounds such as Misisi, Kuku, Kamanga, the larger part of Kanyama, Sewerage compound in Ngwerere area and many others would feel insulted by insinuating that they now have decent houses.

Your party is for peasants – what makes you different from other parties with pro-poor social and economic manifestos such as the PF?

Answer: If you randomly selected 100 members of the PF, you would not get more than 5 that have read and discussed their party manifesto. For the general public, less than 1 in a hundred would be acquainted with the PF manifesto.

In other words, the PF manifesto is not well known even amongst its own members. It is a manifesto that is not guiding government priority and action. Indeed, the pro-poor policies still appear in the PF manifesto but the people who had advocated for those sections are long dead or are now members of our party.

The pro-poor aspects of the PF are therefore far away from the aspirations of the current crop of leadership.

Your party seems to be focusing so much on the peasants or the poorest of the poor. It is as if other seemingly superior classes in Zambia are excluded from your socio-economic programmes? Is your party for just one class of people? How do the haves or the rich and middle-class fit into it?

Answer: The rich and middle class could fit into our party if they were to be patriotic to our country, value human life and devote their energies to improving the social and economic conditions of the most needy in our society.

Some sectors of society are saying, that you lead very capitalist lives yet they want to advance socialist policies. Your comment?

Answer: That can only be a joke. My life is anything, other than capitalist.

The Link-Zambia road project is opening up and linking Zambia to other countries and markets. Is Zambia’s access to free markets a problem?

Answer: Roads on their own do not open access to markets. A reliable communication system, trade policies and tariffs, timely market information and logistics are all critical in creating access to free markets.

We are not doing well in most of these areas and the potential complementarity with the road network will be compromised.

Coverage of You in the Media

There are sectors of society that say, you are only popular in The Post. How much coverage do you receive from other private and public media?

Answer: Indeed, The Post has been exemplary in covering our activities.

There are a few other segments of the private media that have allowed us coverage, but the public media has blacked us out – except for situations where negative reporting avails itself. It is history repeating itself; the PF came into power supported by some generous coverage from The Post and nowhere else. It is strange that PF leadership would today ridicule our coverage through The Post.