FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
24th MAY 2014
OFFICIAL STATEMENT BY HAKAINDE HICHILEMA
AFRICAN FREEDOM DAY 2014
On 15 April 1958, in Accra, Ghana, African leaders and political activists gathered at the first Conference of Independent African States. The Conference called for the founding of African Freedom Day, a day to mark each year the onward progress of the liberation movement, and to symbolize the determination of the People of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. Five years later, specifically On 25 May 1963, leaders of thirty-two then independent African states met to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU). By then more than two-thirds of the continent had achieved independence, from imperial European states. This meeting changed the African freedom day date from 15 April to 25 May. The day was then declared African Liberation day. This is very significant in the sense that indeed Africans must be liberated in line with their own aspirations. The question is; has Africa achieved the aspirations of its founding leaders in this regard? Have the negative experiences we as a people went through under the york of colonialism been reversed?
Independence for African countries came at a great cost. Gallant men and women shed their blood for our independence. We saw in the initial stages of independence that we the African people enjoyed political freedom while we continued to grapple with economic freedom. Within a few years of independence, we saw the greed of the few leaders exceed the needs of the majority of the people. Political freedoms were quickly taken away. Ruling parties declared countries one party states. This period was characterised by an unprecedented levels of political oppression where the state machinery was used to silence any form of dissent, in many cases, brutally. Ruling parties soon blurred the line between the party and the government, creating a state of affairs where state resources became party resources firmly controlled by the ruling class. Political sycophancy became the order of the day. Zambia was no exception to this unfortunate dark era of political intolerance. Dissenting voices were brutally crashed. The nation was put under a perpetual state of emergency which was used with swift ruthlessness. Zambians against all odds rose against the system and dismantled the one party system in 1990. We saw a serious attempt to reverse this gain during the failed third term project.
We are now seeing a very worrying trend in Zambia where opposition party political meetings are being disrupted by the highly compromised police formation. Opposition leaders are being dragged before courts of law on flimsy charges. Innocent Zambians gathering to accompany their political leaders are being overrun by vehicles, assassination attempts have become the order of the day. The list of the evidence that shows the reversal of political freedoms are too numerous for one message.
No serious attempt is being made in Africa generally and in Zambia particularly to give the people economic freedom. Life has been reduced to dog eat dog to survive. The basic social services such as education, health, water and sanitation are all in free fall. If people cannot receive quality education, cannot access health care and do not have access to clean water and sanitation facilities, what sort of liberation are we talking about? If people cannot criticize the Government openly without fear of victimization, then what kind of liberation are we talking about? Africa has some of the longest serving Presidents, most of whom (if not all) have manipulated constitutions to perpetuate themselves in power. Africa has the indignity of having six of the of top ten worlds longest serving Presidents in the world. The longest serving President the world over, at 37 years and still counting, is from Africa. Such a record is not something to be proud about.
What do we promise as UPND? There can be no liberation if people are not economically liberated. We therefore promise economic liberation by enacting laws that will guarantee citizens participation in the economic activities of the country. We also promise the citizens free quality education. People have to be educated to make informed decisions including choosing the kind of leaders they want. We promise quality health care. We cannot have an educated people, who are economically liberated but not healthy. That will affect productivity negatively. We promise a Zambia that will be food secure. We cannot have a people that are in a good economy, educated, health but hungry. Most importantly, what I, Hakainde Hichilema personally promise to deliver, is freedom of expression and assembly through a people driven constitution. My personal commitment and that of our party UPND to a people driven Constitution is unequivocal. Zambia claims to be liberated from colonialism yet the public order act that was used by the colonialists is still in force. We seem to have changed the DJ but left the same music playing with some of it repeating ad infinitum. Countrymen and women, let us take this opportunity to take a hard look of where we are coming from and where we want to go. Where we want to go will then determine what kind of manpower we need to get us there.
Have a blessed day.
HHs African Freedom Day Message