Everyone Out to the Streets to Fight for Democratic Rights and against the IMF-Imposed Austerity Attacks!
Joint Statement of the International Secretariat of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and the Socialist League of Zimbabwe (Section of the RCIT in Zimbabwe), 09.07.2017, www.thecommunists.net
1. Zambian President Edgar Lungu declared a state of emergency throughout the country on 6 July in the wake of a series of fires which broke out in markets and courts in Lusaka, Kabwe, Mongu, Monze and Choma. While Lungu has made the extremely dubious claim that the political opposition is responsible for these "acts of sabotage," it is much more likely that the regime itself initiated these provocations.
2. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) and its Zimbabwean Section strongly condemn this declaration of a state of emergency. This is an authoritarian step by a reactionary regime rapidly losing any popular support following its imposition of drastic austerity measures dictated by the IMF, as well as its shameless attacks on basic democratic rights. We call upon all workers, poor peasants and youth in Zambia to protest against this anti-democratic and reactionary act and to begin making preparations for a general strike.
3. Zambia is an impoverished, semi-colonial country where the economic conditions of the masses reflect its victimhood to the imperialist exploitation and oppression of the entire African continent. Zambia is rich in raw materials, being Africa’s second largest producer of copper, ranking seventh globally. Furthermore, the country has considerable reserves of uranium, a mineral in high demand, particularly with the increase in civilian nuclear energy projects around the world.
4. However, being dominated by imperialist monopolies, Zambia has been unable to develop a diversified domestic economy, with the result that it is almost entirely dependent on its exports of copper and cobalt, which together account for 64% of the country’s total exports. Consequently, when the price of raw materials collapsed on the world market in 2015, Zambia was heavily impacted. Today about 60.5% of Zambians live below the officially-recognized national poverty line, and it can be taken for granted that real unemployment is much higher than the official figure of 14%.
5. Under the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), since the early 1990s Zambia has been forced to privatize large sectors of its industry as well as cut state subsidies. Today, the country is dominated by Western imperialist powers like the US and Britain, by South Africa as well as by the great emerging Asian imperialist power of China. Since last year, the country's stock of external debt has increased by US$300 million to US$7.2 billion, the latter being equivalent to 31% of the country's GDP. As a result, with the IMF’s pistol at it temple, the government has announced a 75% rise in its tariff for electricity, a measure which will further aggravate the dire economic conditions of most people. Cuts to fuel subsidies are also in the cards.
6. The government’s series of austerity attacks, as well as the effects of the foreign domination have provoked popular resistance as well as growing divisions inside the ruling class. President Lungu emerged as the successor head of state following a power struggle after the death of President Michael Sata at the end of 2014. Lungu and his misnamed "Patriotic Front" (PF) are governing the country in the interests of the imperialist monopolies. However, in order to accommodate popular outrage they camouflage their pro-IMF policy with some "anti-imperialist" rhetoric. As this is not sufficient to stabilize the political situation, Lungu is increasingly suppressing all dissident voices. His authoritarian, Bonapartist regime is systematically silencing the media, including having closed the country's biggest independent newspaper, The Post. It has arrested many activists of opposition parties. It has banned student union activities at the University of Zambia in the capital Lusaka. It has even arrested Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of the main opposition party – the United Party for National Development (UPND) –, under the Kafkaesque pretext that his convoy failed to pull off the road and make way for Lungu's motorcade!
7. However, the RCIT warns against having any illusion in Hichilema and his UPND. Hichilema is a former business consultant and darling of the business elite. He limits his rhetorical protests on democratic issues but fails to raise any opposition against the draconian IMF programs. Both the PF as well as the UPND are openly bourgeois parties which loyally serve the imperialist powers and the domestic capitalist class.
9. It is urgent that socialist and democratic activists in Zambia prepare for mass struggles against the pro-IMF attacks on social gains and public ownership of key industries, as well as against the regime’s attack on democratic rights. They should call for the immediate release of all political prisoners. Activists should also call for the formation of action committees in the workplaces, schools, universities and neighborhoods. They should push the trade unions to organize strike actions. They should also advocate a united front of all forces which are ready to fight against these attacks. Such popular protests should be united in a general strike and a popular uprising to bring down the Lungu regime. In this context it is important to advocate the formation of self-defense groups designed to protect the masses against attacks by the regime's thugs and which, in the future, can serve as a springboard for workers and peasant militias.
10. It is crucial that socialists in Zambia organize to build a new mass party of the working class which also defends the interests of the urban and rural poor. Such a party must be independent of any factions of the capitalist class as well as of all imperialist powers. Such a party must be democratic, with all functionaries earning no more than the wages of an average worker. Such a party should help organize the working class to fight back against all economic and political attacks by the regime, the IMF and the Great Powers. Furthermore, the RCIT proposes that such a party should combine the struggle for the defense of the immediate interests of the masses with a program for the expropriation of the foreign monopolies and the big domestic capitalists, culminating in a revolutionary overthrow of the ruling class and the founding of a socialist state led by the workers and peasants.
11. The RCIT calls upon activists in Zambia to link the struggle against the Lungu regime with a Pan-African and global perspective. Our struggle for liberation in Zambia must be tied to the struggle of our brothers and sisters against the imperialist powers and domestic reactionary regimes – starting from Zimbabwe and Morocco to the popular struggles against Assad in Syria, General al-Sisi in Egypt, and against the ongoing Israeli aggression of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.
The RCIT sends its greetings to all Zambian revolutionaries and calls them to join forces with us in the international struggle for a socialist future!
* Down with the State of Emergency! Defend democratic rights! Immediate freedom for all political prisoners!
* Down with the IMF-imposed austerity programs!
* For the renationalization of all key industries under control of the employees!
* For the forming of action committees in the workplaces, schools, universities and neighborhoods!
* For a united front of all forces to stop the attacks of the Lungu regime!
* Everyone out to the streets! Prepare for a general strike!
* For a program of public employment and the rescinding of social cuts!
* For a workers’ and peasant government based on popular councils and militias!
* For a united Intifada of the workers and peasants – from Lusaka, Harare, Rabat, Idlib, and Cairo to Jerusalem!
* For a socialist federation in Black Africa!
* For a new mass workers’ party! For a revolutionary Workers International!
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For the RCIT analysis of the liberation in Black Africa, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents accessed from the Africa and Middle East section of our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/. In particular we refer readers to the following documents:
RCIT: Theses on Capitalism and Class Struggle in Black Africa, 13 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/africa-theses/
Platform of the Socialist League of Zimbabwe (Section of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency), https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/rcit-zimbabwe-platform/