By JIMMY CHIBUYE and ALVIN CHIINGA
MMD president Nevers Mumba says it is wrong for any opposition political party to shun independence celebrations on Thursday because it is a national and not a political event.
Dr Mumba told Radio Phoenix yesterday that Independence Day is a national event meant to celebrate the lives of freedom fighters and should be attended by all citizens regardless of political affiliation.
“As MMD today and as leader of the MMD today, I think that it was wrong for the opposition to shun the event when we invited them and it is wrong today for any opposition leader not to attend,” he said.
Dr Mumba said political leaders should not politicise independence celebrations because they are a national event which are of national concern to all citizens.
He said Independence Day is a time to honour people who fought for the freedom Zambia is enjoying and cherishing today.
Dr Mumba said during the MMD administration, all political parties were invited but some shunned the day citing high levels of poverty and lack of employment among citizens.
He said Zambians should cherish the history of Independence Day and help to disseminate the information to children.
“As MMD, we shall attend the event but we are not doing it for Mr Sata, we are not doing it for the PF, but we are doing it for the good of our nation and remember our heroes,” Dr Mumba said.
On Monday, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has maintained that political independence has lost meaning to the majority of Zambians because they are economically dependent or completely marginalised.
Hichilema says there is nothing to ‘dine and wine’ for because most Zambians can’t even afford the wine.
Hichilema was reacting to incessant condemnations from president Sata, his ministers and shoe cleaners over his earlier statement that Zambians should shun uhuru because there is nothing to celebrate for.
Sata and his officials, who have every reason to celebrate because they increased their salaries last week and are getting free expensive food, accused Hichilema of insulting freedom fighters.
But Hichilema said it is Sata and his friends who are insulting freedom fighters by making independence meaningless for the majority of Zambians through their poor leadership which is making the poor poorer.
Hichilema said if genuine freedom fighters, who died during the struggle woke up, they would cry to see how Sata and his colleagues are messing up the once properous country.
Hichilema said the freedom fighters wanted complete political and economic independence for all Zambians unlike what is happening now where there is independence for a few people only.
He said it does not make sense to condemn white colonialist when you are doing the same things they did to the majority of citizens.
Hichilema said the colour of the oppressor does not matter because whether he is black or white, the suffering he causes is the same.
Hichilema appealed to Zambians to use Independence Day to reflect on what has gone wrong with the country and think of how to move forward.
“It is not a boycott; it is refusing to celebrate, wine and dine when Zambians cannot even afford mealie-meal. It is a protest not a boycott. Which party member does not understand the suffering? If a particular party member goes there, that is their decision… I am not only calling on UPND party members, I am calling on Zambians. What is there to celebrate when your children are out of school? No ARVs in hospitals, but the by-election money is there. Money for judge Chikopa is there; money for technical committee on drafting of the constitution is there,” Mr. Hichilema said.
Meanwhile, Open Society Foundation (OSF) executive director Sunday Chanda has said Mr Hichilema’s justification for boycotting Independence Day celebrations is misplaced.
“We wish to advise here that the catalogue of challenges as provided by Mr Hichilema, while real, is not just a Zambian phenomenon, it is in all neighbouring countries, including South Africa and almost all former colonies.
“Instead, we ask Mr Hichilema and other political leaders to use 24th October to summon the intelligentsia in their respective political establishments to devise mechanisms to defeat these challenges,” he said.
He said politicking over a serious national event must be avoided.
“Zambians must recognise the significance of decolonising ourselves from imperialists,” Mr Chanda said.
Mr Chanda said OSF also believes that political freedom must lead to economic freedom adding that Zambia’s current economic model excludes the majority and must be dismantled.
On Monday, President Sata said Mr Hichilema is being selfish by calling on Zambians to shun the Independence Day celebrations out of pure vanity.
Zambia Daily Mail