Zambia
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Zambia: Socialism vs Constitutional Order

By Henry Kyambalesa

1. INTRODUCTION:

First and foremost, I wish to tender definitions of a few im-portant terms as they are used specifically for the purposes of this article—that is, “ideology,” “socialism,” “communism,” and “constitution.”

1.1 Ideology. As used in this article, the term “ideology” refers to an entire society’s set of fundamental beliefs that provides a comprehensive definition or description of what the ideal soci-oeconomic life should be.

The attainment of mean¬ingful socioeconomic devel¬opment re-quires a country to generate a set of socioeco¬nomic ideals (or an “ideology,” to use the term that is in vogue worldwide) to serve as a guide to all national pursuits and endeavors.

Such an “ideology,” or set of ideals, should satisfy three basic require¬ments if it is to stand the test of time. Firstly, it should be generated through national consensus—either by parlia-ment or through a refer¬endum—and not by an individ¬u¬al politi-cal leader or a group of political-party lead¬ers.

With respect to a “referendum,” the basic rules for pursuing such an endeavor should include the following:

1. Petitioners—a group of bonafide citizens—will prepare a typed and hardcopy of their petition, which will include the fol-lowing:

(a) The basis of the petitioners’ authority to seek to change the country’s implied or expressed ideology;

(b) A detailed rationale for seeking the change in the country’s implied or expressed ideology;

(c) The designations and specific functions of positions of top potential government leaders that would be characteristic of the new ideology; and

(d) Authentication of the petition by means of the petitioners’ full names, mailing addresses, and signatures.

2. Submission, by the petitioners, of a complete copy of the pe-tition to the Minister of Justice, hereinafter referred to as “Min-ister.”

3. Convening of public meetings or rallies at all provincial headquarters by the petitioners, at which the content of the petition will be explained to residents.

4. Collection of attendees’ signatures in support of the petition at the end of each public meeting, the total of which must be at least one-fiftieth (1/50) of the estimated population of each province.

5. Each of the signatories to the petition at each provincial meeting must attest, on lines to be provided for in each copy of the petition, to have understood the content of the petition, and to have been resident in the province for at least five (5) years, and will provide a physical address or location in the province where they live.

6. Submission of all the signed copies of the petition to the Minister for sample verifications of the existence of signatories and any other relevant details relating to the signatories. The Minister must acknowledge receipt of the signed copies of the petition within three (3) months from the date of receipt of the petition.

7. The petition will be rejected by the Minister if any of the particulars relating to the signatories will be found to be forged, fudged, or inaccurate, and will communicate the outcome of the sample verifications of the signed copies to the petitioners within six (6) months from the date of acknowledgment of the receipt of the signed copies.

8. In the case of forged or fudged information relating to the signatories to the petition, culprits will be prosecuted, the na-ture of the punishment of which will be prescribed by an Act of Parliament.

9. A petition that will pass the verification process will be sub-mitted by the Minister to Parliament within six (6) months from the date of acknowledgement of the signed copies of the peti-tion submitted by the petitioners, and will include all the signed copies of the petition.

10. Parliament will render its decision regarding the petition within one (1) year from the date of acknowledgment of the receipt of the petition.

11. Parliament’s decision will be final, and will be binding on both the Zambian government and the petitioners.

12. In the case of positive consideration of the petition by Par-liament, Parliament will, within one (1) year from the date of its decision, set up the process of amending the Constitution and/or subsidiary pieces of legislation to reflect the change in the country’s ideology.

13. In the event of a rejection of the petition by Parliament, the petitioners will have the opportunity to submit a revised peti-tion to the Minister upon addressing the reason(s) for the rejec-tion after five (5) years from the date of a previous denial, and as many times as they wish.

14. Any other ways and means of seeking to change the coun-try’s implied or expressed ideology other than what is pre-scribed above will be treated as a treasonable offence.

15. The costs associated with the preparation of petitions, the holding of public meetings, and the submission of petitions to the Minister will be borne by the petitioners without any finan-cial and/or material support from the Zambian government or foreign governments, organizations, and/or individuals.

16. If the Minister will determine that the petitioners received financial and/or material support from foreign governments, organizations, and/or individuals to bolster the preparation of petitions, the holding of public meetings, and the submission of petitions to him or her.

Secondly, the ideology should be consis¬tent with the cherished values and virtues of a country’s people—such as the following, which are stipulated in the Constitution of Zambia (Amend-ment) Act No. 2 of 2016: patriotism, national unity, democracy, constitutionalism, human dignity, equality, and non-discrimination.

And, thirdly, it should be based on realistic assu¬mptions about what is human¬ly achievable rather than on an idealized and utopian con¬cept of the best conditions of human life.

Consider¬ation of the failures and successes of the socialist, commu¬nist, and free-enterprise ideologies and their various versions and blends is critical to the formu¬lation of a viable na-tional ideology.

Ordinarily, however, countries do not expressly state the nature of their national ideologies. Nevertheless, each and every coun-try’s national ideology can be deduced from the goals and/or aspirations stipulated in its national Constitution, and/or from its subsidiary pieces of legislation.

1.2 Socialism. The term “socialism” is used in this article to re-fer to an economic and political ideology articulated mainly in the Manifesto of the Communist Party (alternately referred to as “The Communist Manifesto”) by Karl Marx—a German aca-demic, philosopher and social activist—and Friedrich Engels—a German philosopher, social activist and businessman.

The ideology’s most important premise is state ownership of non-human means or factors of production and distribution, and centralized planning and control of economic activities, particularly activities in key and strategic commercial and indus-trial sectors of a country’s economy.

The means or factors of production and distribution alluded to include land and the various forms of capital, such as raw mate-rials, financial assets and institutions, manufacturing facilities, assembly plants, machinery and equipment, transportation fa-cilities, service centers, and retail outlets.

“Socialism,” as envisioned by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, is encapsulated by the following Principle: “From each according to his [or her] ability to each according to his [or her] contribu-tion.”

1.3 Communism. This refers to an economic and political ide-ology the premise of which is state ownership of all the non-human means or factors of production and distribution, and centralized planning and control of economic activities—the means or factors of production and distribution being land and the various forms of capital, such as raw materials, financial as-sets and institutions, manufacturing facilities, assembly plants, machinery and equipment, transportation facilities, service cen-ters, and retail outlets.

In communist societies, therefore, private ownership of the means or factors of production and distribution is not permissi-ble, even in non-strategic commercial and industrial sectors of a country’s economy.

Communist ideology is encapsulated by the following Principle: “From each according to his [or her] ability to each according to his [or her] needs.”

1.4 Constitution. This term refers to the set of any given coun-try’s supreme and most important laws that stipulates the basic ways and means by which the country is to be governed, includ-ing a stipulation of the types of important government institu-tions that ought to be created and their functions, a stipulation of the duties of bearers of statutory government positions, a delineation of the relationship between and among the execu-tive, the legislative and the judicial organs of government, and, among a host of other matters, a stipulation of the rights, free-doms and duties of citizens.

2. THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO:

The content of the Manifesto of the Communist Party (pub-lished in February 1848)—one of the primary origins of socialist ideology—reflect Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’ opinions and perceptions of socioeconomic conditions that existed during and before the 19th Century in Western Europe—including the countries of Germany, France and England.

In the duo’s view, Western countries evolved through the fol-lowing phases:

(a) The Feudal system of industry in which industrial produc-tion was monopolized by closed guilds;

(b) The manufacturing system captained by the manufacturing middle class; and

(c) The era of Modern Industry dominated by leaders of indus-trial armies and industrial middle class composed of industrial millionaires.

According to the two theorists and social activists, the “prole-tariat”—the term they defined as “the class of modern wage laborers (or the “oppressed”) who, having no means of produc-tion of their own, were reduced to selling their labor in order to live—emerged during the era of Modern Industry.

Clearly, the theories espoused by Marx and Engels in the Mani-festo of the Communist Party were designed to be applicable to “advanced countries,” as the authors stated in the Manifesto.

Less-developed countries are far from becoming part of the Modern industrial countries in which the “proletariat” is birthed, and in which the “bourgeoisie” is a prominent feature in commerce and industry—defined by Marx and Engels as “the class of modern capitalists [or the “oppressors”], owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor.”

From their opinions and perceptions regarding the “bourgeoi-sie,” it is clear that Marx and Engels never bothered to investi-gate how the “owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor” gained their possessions. On a silver platter perhaps!

They—the so-called “oppressors”—actually gained their “bour-geois” status through their own ingenuity, hard work and/or merely through some sheer stroke of luck. In fact, large busi-ness entities or corporations are generally founded and devel-oped from scratch by small-scale farmers, laborers or unem-ployed members of society and/or their children in the back-yards of their houses.

Such founders are the kinds of entrepreneurs who make posi-tive and meaningful contributions to any given society’s socio-economic advancement. They, therefore, need to be encour-aged, embraced and incentivized and not be demonized, stig-matized, or earmarked for extermination.

3. SOCIALISM VS CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISOS:

In the Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels agi-tated for: (a) the eradication of competition (b) the abolition of free trade; (c) the abolition of countries; (d) the abolition of na-tionality; (e) confiscation of the means of production and distri-bution by the State; (f) the abolition of private property; (g) the abolition of religion; (h) centralization of means of communica-tion; and (i) usurpation of economic and political power by means of a revolution.

3.1 Competition. The two theorists advocated for the eradica-tion of what they referred to as “bourgeois competition” and replace it with “association” because, in their view, “private property [that had to be abolished] cannot be separated from competition.”

This is perhaps one of the most controversial and impractical of the propositions advanced by Marx and Engels because, in real-ity, “competition” is actually a typical element in every sphere and facet of human endeavor. And the success (or failure) of all individuals and the organizations or societies they found or be-long to is essentially and generally a direct result of their ability (or inability) to compete against other individuals, organizations and/or countries.

Individuals, for example, compete for jobs, spouses, good grades at school, medals in sport, and for respect and admira-tion. Organizations compete for customers or clients, compe-tent employees, financial resources, and goodwill or reputation. And countries, in their quest to improve their trade, diplomatic and other kinds of relations with other countries, “compete” for special treatment by ensuring that their interests and cir-cumstances are considered in the formulation of the nitty-gritty of international treaties or agreements.

They also “compete” in their quest to secure loans, grants and technical assistance from multilateral institutions, for example, and from other countries. Moreover, they compete for foreign investments, including foreign direct investment (FDI) and port-folio investments.

Clearly, therefore, the ability, freedom, and inclination to com-pete are what drives and propels individuals, organizations and countries to higher levels of performance; as such, any attempt to limit or abolish competition can ultimately undermine the potential of individuals, organizations and countries to meet the basic needs and expectations of the majority of their stake-holders.

3.2 Free Trade. Marx and Engels pushed for what they re-ferred to as “the communistic abolition of free trade, and of buying and selling of commodities.”

This is also one of the most controversial and impractical of the propositions advanced by Marx and Engels mainly because trade among nations particularly is actually an important ele-ment in any given country’s quest for heightened economic and technological development, and it can benefit a country in nu-merous and very specific ways.

The United Nations, for example, has recognized the necessity of free trade among nations in the following words: “Interna-tional trade is an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, and contributes to the promotion of sus-tainable development.”

Among other benefits,

(a) It can enable a country to gain access to foreign goods, ser-vices and technology;

(b) It can be a trigger of innovation and creativity in a country’s economy;

(c) It can function as a potential conduit for a country’s surplus products, or, in the words of economist Hla Myint, it can func-tion as a “vent for surplus”;

(d) It can be a boon for job creation;

(e) It can be a potential and reliable source of foreign reserves for any given country;

(f) It can lead to the realization of economies of scale and scope by a country’s business and non-business entities;

(g) It can be a boon for peace and amicable relations among trading sovereign nations and their citizens; and

(h) It can be more potent than foreign aid in any given coun-try’s quest to attain desired levels of socioeconomic develop-ment.

For these reasons, one of the functions listed in Article 92 of the Constitution of Zambia which the country’s President is re-quired to perform is to “negotiate and sign international agreements and treaties and, subject to the approval of the Na-tional Assembly, ratify or accede to international agreements and treaties … [.]”

This Presidential function includes negotiating and/or approv-ing trade-related agreements, which, according to socialist ide-ology, would be outlawed.

3.3 Countries. The two theorists agitated for the abolition of countries to address, in their view, inter-national differences and conflicts. The Zambian Constitution, however, recognizes the perpetual existence of Zambia as a country in the Preamble as follows: “We, the people of Zambia … resolve that Zambia shall remain a unitary, multi-party and democratic sovereign State … [.]”

The following excerpts from Articles 4 and 5 in Part I of the Constitution also recognize the perpetual existence of Zambia as a country:

(a) Zambia is a sovereign Republic under a constitutional form of governance;

(b) The Republic shall not be ceded in whole or in part;

(c) The Republic may enter into a union or other form of inter-state organization, which action shall not be construed as ced-ing the Republic;

(d) Power that is not conferred by or under this Constitution on any State organ, State institution, State officer, Constitutional officeholder, or other institution or person is reserved for the people; and

(e) The people of Zambia shall exercise their reserved power through a referendum, as prescribed.

3.4 Nationality. They agitated for the abolition of citizenship or nationality to address, in their view, antagonisms between and among people.

In Zambia, however, citizenship or nationality—which “may be acquired by birth, descent, registration, or adoption in accord-ance with Article 34 in Part IV of the country’s Constitution—is an important facet of society that has to be preserved.

Article 40(1) of the Constitution cites only the following two ways by which a citizen can lose his or her citizenship: (a) the person’s renunciation of his or her citizenship; or (b) if his or her citizenship was acquired by means of fraud, false represen-tation or concealment of a disqualifying material fact.

3.5 Nationalization. They agitated for State confiscation of the means of production and distribution. In other words, they ad-vocated for nationalization or expropriation of privately owned business undertakings and conversion of the same into state-owned enterprises.

The means of production and distribution include land and the various forms of capital, such as raw materials, financial assets and institutions, manufacturing facilities, assembly plants, ma-chinery and equipment, transportation facilities, service cen-ters, and retail outlets.

The following excerpts from Article 10 in Part II of the Constitu-tion summon the country’s government officials to strive to pursue free-market policies designed to create a robust, com-petitive and resilient economic system:

(a) The Government shall create an economic environment which encourages individual initiative and self-reliance among the people, so as to promote investment, employment and wealth;

(b) The Government shall promote the economic empower-ment of citizens so that they contribute to sustainable econom-ic growth and social development;

(c) The Government shall promote local and foreign invest-ment and protect and guarantee such investment through agreements with investors and other countries; and

(d) The government shall not compulsorily acquire an invest-ment, except under customary international law.

3.6 Property. They agitated for the abolition of private proper-ty and its replacement by communal control of the national economy, and creation of a society in which individual lives could no longer be at the mercy of the impersonal market forc-es of supply and demand.

But what can be more dignifying and fulfilling to a human being than to own a piece of land, a house, and/or any other article of value? And what can be more dehumanizing than to be denied the opportunity to own anything of value?

The excerpts in the preceding subsection extracted from Article 10 in Part II of the Constitution compel the national govern-ment to pursue socioeconomic policies that would bolster the ownership of private property.

3.7 Religion. They agitated for the abolition of religion. Ordi-narily, implementation of socialist and/or communist ideals would require a denunciation of all forms of religious worship and beliefs in consonance with one of Marx’s goals of abolish-ing religion because he regarded it as a source of illusory happi-ness among believers and worshippers as implied by the follow-ing declaration attributed to him:

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

There are the following major religious groupings or denomina-tions in the world today that would be outlawed by a socialist / communist regime: (a) the Bahá’í Faith; (b) Buddhism; (c) Chris-tianity; (d) Hinduism; (e) Islam; (f) Judaism; (g) Shintoism; and (h) Taoism (or Daoism).

However, the Preamble of the country’s Constitution makes the following declaration: “We, the people of Zambia: Acknowledge the supremacy of God Almighty; [and] Declare [that] the Re-public [is] a Christian Nation while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion … [.]”

3.8 Media Outlets. They agitated for centralization of the means of communication. As the Reporters Without Borders organization has observed, “The Zambian media landscape is fairly rich and pluralistic.” The country has at least 40 privately owned TV channels, around 120 privately owned community-based radio stations, and a handful of newspapers.

Additionally, it has the government-owned Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) and three TV channels and three radio stations operated under the auspices of the Zambia Na-tional Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

On December 31, 2002, the country’s Parliament enacted the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and charged it with the task of promoting a pluralistic and diverse broadcasting in-dustry in the country and, among a host of other responsibili-ties, establishing guidelines for:

(a) The development of broadcasting in Zambia through a pub-lic process which shall determine the needs of citizens and so-cial groups in regard to broadcasting; and

(b) The issuing of licences, giving due regard to the need to dis-courage monopolies in the industry in accordance with the Competition and Fair Trading Act.

A “fairly rich and pluralistic” media landscape is perhaps more preferable because, unlike centralized means of communication which can easily be used by despotic government officials to clamp down on dissent and freedom of expression, it can be used by the citizenry to expose and challenge the excesses of government officials.

3.9 Revolution. They agitated for usurpation of economic and political power by means of a revolution and usher in an era of what is commonly referred to as “dictatorship of the proletari-at.” More specifically, they agitated for “violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie” and “The executive of the modern state [that] is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

The following excerpt explains what the “violent overthrow of the bourgeoisie” and “The executive of the modern state” would ordinarily entail:

“The proletariat goes through various stages of develop-ment. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual laborers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them.
They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois condi-tions of production, but against the instruments of produc-tion themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labor, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages.”

This would certainly be in violation of the following dictates of Articles 1 and 2 in Part I of the Constitution of Zambia (Amend-ment) Act No. 2 of 2016:

“This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Zambia and … [an] act or omission that contravenes [it] … is illegal.” [And every citizen] … has the right and duty to … re-sist or prevent a person from overthrowing, suspending or illegally abrogating … [it].”

Also, the Constitution stipulates the basic ways and means by which the country is to be governed. A revolution to change the ways and means by which the country is to be governed would be unconstitutional.

Besides, Marx and Engels stratified society into “oppressors”—or the “bourgeoisie”—and the “oppressed”—or the “proletari-at.” In contrast, the Zambian Constitution, the supreme law of the country, addresses the citizenry as “We the people of Zam-bia” in the Preamble. All the rights, freedoms and duties of citi-zens apply to all citizens irrespective of the status they, and/or their families, have attained.

In other words, the Constitution treats citizens nationwide as equals—in word at least, as opposition political leaders have tended to cast or proclaim against incumbent government offi-cials—justifiably or otherwise—during the United National In-dependence Party (UNIP), the Movement for Multi-party De-mocracy (MMD), the Patriotic Front (PF), and the United Party for National Development (UPND) administrations.

With respect to Marx and Engels’ claim that “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie,” Articles 90 and 91(3)(d) in Part VII of the Zambian Constitution stipulates the source of the Executive’s authority and the role the holder is mandated to play in the following words:

“The Executive authority derives from the people of Zambia and shall be exercised in a manner compatible with the principles of social justice and for the people’s well-being and benefit.” And “The President shall, in exercise of the ex-ecutive authority of the State, respect the diversity of the different communities of Zambia.”

Therefore, the source of the Executive’s authority in Zambia is the totality of the country’s citizens, who the Presidency as an institution is mandated to serve indiscriminately, and not exclu-sively serve the interests of any segment of the citizenry.

And Article 63(3) assigns the power to enact pieces of legisla-tion to the country’s Parliament against the dictates of socialist ideology on this matter in the following words: “A person or body, other than Parliament, shall not have power to enact leg-islation, except as conferred by this Constitution.”

4. CONCLUDING NOTES:

1. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ theories and socialist ideolo-gy—which agitated for the eradication of competition, the abo-lition of free trade, the abolition of countries, the abolition of nationality, the abolition of private property, confiscation of the means of production and distribution by the State, the abolition of religion, centralization of means of communication, and usurpation of economic and political power by means of a revo-lution—are not only outrageously harmful to the welfare of in-dividual members of society, but are, by any measure, highly unconscionable.

The two theorists are adamantly oblivious to the indispensabil-ity of democratic institutions to “good governance”—institutions which include the executive, the legislative and the judicial organs of government. And they scoff at society’s yearning for a culture of law and order.

In all, they are an affront to society’s quest for a more peaceful, more prosperous and more democratic society.

2. The Manifesto of the Communist Party is not a “regular man-ifesto” by any stretch of imagination; it is, by and large, an un-founded lamentation against what Marx and Engels have re-ferred to as “bourgeois society”—a society that, according to the two theorists and activists, is characterized by wage-labor, division of labor, extensive use of machinery, free trade, bour-geois competition, over-production, and “too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, [and] too much commerce.”

Ordinarily, a “regular manifesto” provides a political party’s comprehensive plan for running a country, and needs to include the party’s contemplated socioeconomic policies, specific pro-jects and programs earmarked for implementation, timeframes for introducing short-term and medium-term policies, timeframes for implementing short-term and medium-term projects and programs, and a listing of potential sources of rev-enue.

3. Karl (Charles) Marx was a German academic, philosopher and social activist. He was born into a middle-class family in Trier, Germany, on May 5, 1818. During the first half of the 1850s, his family lived in poverty and his major source of sub-sistence during this time was his colleague Friedrich Engels, whose income was from his family’s business in Manchester, England.

He was expelled from Germany (his country of origin), Belgium and France due to his outrageous, unconscionable and insurrec-tionist theories and activities.

He died on March 14, 1883 in London, England.

4. Friedrich (Frederick) Engels was a German philosopher, a so-cial activist and a businessman. He was born on November 28, 1820 into a wealthy family in Rhine Province, Germany. He at-tended high (secondary) school, but dropped out one year be-fore graduation. He died on August 5, 1895 in London, England.

If I have succeeded in provoking a great deal of debate on the subject matter of this article, I will go to tend to my garden a very happy man indeed!