The year 2016 may turn out to be the worst for the masses of our population in the entire 51 years post-independence period. Macro-economic stability will remain elusive, job losses will continue to be experienced in all sectors of the economy, the cost of living will continue to rise and poverty will deepen. Under these conditions, the PF government will increasingly act impulsively and become more defensive and repressive. The toxic mixture of a repressive regime amidst growing mass poverty will be tragic for the Zambian workers, peasants, students and the poor. It is the sort of mixture that civil strife and unrest are made of.
In comparison to what 2016 brings along with it, the difficulties we have experienced in 2015 could be described as a mere “dress rehearsal”. The PF government has therefore valid reasons to fear losing power. This fear will however lead to increased repression of opposition political parties and progressive civil society organisations; to unprecedented looting of public resources by the ruling elite; to recklessly increasing public debt for vote-catching infrastructural projects. Fiscal indiscipline will therefore be at its worst, and the arrogance of those in power will continue blinding them to the dire realities of the masses.
Ironically, the richest 5% will still have highly profitable niches to continue accumulating wealth in 2016. Those with huge dollar bank balances will make a killing from arbitrage transactions. Exporters will rejoice to the fact that the domestic wage rate will not go up by 100% – it will be their time to tune up their balance sheets without much sweat. Similarly, the dollarized real estate and other sectors will continue to celebrate Christmas throughout the year. Again, it is the masses of the population that will be the losers for 2016. In the socialist language, we would say 2016 will visibly show the class nature and antagonisms of Zambian society. The poverty and humiliation of the masses 51 years after political independence enables a small economic and political elite to continue entrenching its political and economic position with impunity.
For the masses of our people, the 2016 general elections are an opportunity to overthrow the neo-liberal capitalist system that keeps them enslaved in their own homeland. It is not about replacing one capitalist party for another. Capitalism is anchored on greed, individualism and exploitation of the working masses. Once the opportunity is not utilised in 2016, it would take another 5 years of continued mass poverty and exploitation till 2021 for the Zambian masses to free themselves from the devil called capitalism.