Opening Speech by Cde Wynter M. Kabimba for the just ended 1st National Congress of the Rainbow Party.
Dear Comrades and Friends. Invited Guests. Members of the Press. Ladies and Gentlemen. I welcome you to the First National Congress of our Party. On 16th December, 2014, we announced the formation of the Rainbow Party at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre, here in Lusaka.
Since that day, our Party has witnessed an unprecedented surge of growth in membership in all the 10 provinces of our homeland. No political party in Zambian history has ever experienced such a phenomenal ground-swell of support within such a short period of time. We should, therefore, be proud of this achievement.
During the last 6 months, we all worked to consolidate the Party at the provincial, district, constituency and ward levels. We have also worked to chart a clear and defined ideological direction of our Party. We have undertaken this task by holding workshops and meetings with different groups of leaders in the rank and file of our Party. The experience and knowledge acquired during this process have raised the ideological understanding of many of you present here today to fight the propaganda against the Party by our enemies and opponents alike. As a follow up to this programme, the Party is in the process of developing a comprehensive curriculum to give every member an opportunity to attend similar workshops. The Party shall also endeavour to expose party functionaries to similar programmes abroad.
Dear Comrades and Friends, A political Party without a clear ideology is like a body of a motor vehicle without an engine. Such a vehicle cannot take you to your intended destination.
In this regard, our Party has decided to espouse SOCIALISM as the ideology which shall drive the social and economic development agenda of our homeland. In the last 23 years, the MMD and PF governments have tried the capitalist, neo-liberal prescription to develop this country but without success.
The results of this capitalist experiment have been mass unemployment, acute levels of poverty, job losses,endemic corruption, hunger, high levels of inequality, a weak labour movement to fight for the welfare of the workers, unfocused and inconsistent economic policies in agriculture and the financial sector, a poor healthcare system and a poor educational system which continues to off-load onto the streets rising numbers of the youth, among others.
This is a system which has failed to resolve the contradiction between the highly pronounced annual figures of economic growth and the rampant poverty afflicting the population. Neo-liberal capitalism has made the Zambian masses destitute and taken away their national dignity, self-confidence, and self reliance.
The Rainbow Party cannot, therefore, take the same failed path. Only socialism will liberate and economically empower the Zambian masses. Only socialism will foster national development, promote unity of the working class, peasants, patriots and progressive Zambians in waging the struggle against poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, inequality and all forms of injustice.
Dear Comrades and Friends, As a socialist political party, we are as a matter of obligation committed to the global struggle against injustice and inequality. We shall in this regard express solidarity and fraternity with those of our brothers and sisters who are still subjected to social injustice whenever they may be in the world.
We shall collaborate with those organisations and political parties in the fight against all forms of injustice and shall identify ourselves with those still fighting for self-determination against their oppressors. Let us stand with progressive countries and civil society organisations promoting human rights for all peoples in a bid to create a just, secure and peaceful world for this generation and generations to come.
The people of China, other Asian countries, Latin America and the Caribbean have been and will remain dear to us for their support to Zambia’s anti-colonial struggle for independence. We will build on this history and forge constructive new relationships in building a modern 21st century socialist society.
For our eight neighbouring countries (Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo DR, Angola, Namibia and Botswana) plus South Africa; our colonial defined boundaries will not and should never deter us from our common struggle to build a viable regional economy for the benefit of the masses of our people.
We are bound by a common history and destiny.
We embody the Pan African spirit of Nkrumah, Nasser, Sekou Toure, Nyerere, Kaunda, Lumumba, Cabral, Machel, Neto, Mugabe, Hani, and many other progressive leaders of this continent.
Africa is our motherland and our struggle for a better and humane Zambian society cannot be divorced from the rest of Africa. Dear Comrades and Friends, The Rainbow Party with its ideology of socialism must lead the way as an instrument of social change and economic transformation in the country. In order to execute this task effectively, the Party needs to marshall the support of all progressive forces within and outside Zambia. The trade unions, co-operative movement, student organisations, civil society organisations, religious institutions, traditional leadership structures, and progressive individuals are our allies in fostering national unity, in poverty eradication and building of an inclusive, democratic socialist society.
Dear Comrades and friends, We must as a Party realise at the outset that Zambia’s historical and cultural values cannot be divorced from our socialist socio-economic agenda. It is culture which forms part of our critical consciousness and identity as a people.
In this regard, the Party has a duty to respect and protect the nation’s progressive historical and cultural values and all diverse traditional practices which promote national development.
This will require policies for the rapid and sustained development of the rural areas so as to enhance the social and economic well-being of the rural people. One of the persistent illusions of our time lies in the belief that democracy is sustainable in the midst of abject poverty, illiteracy and conditions of gross inequality.
To resolve this contradiction, the Party shall promote equitable distribution of wealth in order to foster real democracy, social development and hence ensure political equality amongst the Zambian people. It is an affront to our people to continue living like slaves in their own country for decades. Dear comrades and Friends, We must at the end of this Congress remain resolved and unequivocally commit ourselves through our Party to fight the endemic scourge of corruption in the governance of our country.
Our ideology does not allow rendering any compromise or support to those who plunder the people’s public resources with impunity. Corruption should not be allowed to be a reward or some form of incentive for those in public office who have decided to breach the trust of the popular masses. The Zambian people have vested their hope in the Rainbow Party to redeem them from this spreading cancer of corruption which has contributed to the country’s state of under-development. Let me also at this stage emphasize the need for discipline in our Party.
I must state here with a sense of great pride that our Party has been exemplary in this area so far. I urge you to continue to give hope to our people’s expectations that one day in the near future the culture of mob cadrism which is evidenced by gross indiscipline in other political parties shall come to an end.
We have in some instances witnessed incidents of gross indiscipline and violence perpetrated by party cadres which have compromised even the operations of the police service in the discharge of its functions. As Rainbow, this culture shall come to an end immediately we form government.
Our people deserve to live in a peaceful environment free from political harassment, molestation and intimidation. We shall bring to an end the culture of illegal levies by party cadres in market places and bus stations. We shall not encourage or tolerate the culture of party cadres extorting money from the traveling public and bus operators. The Rainbow Party in government shall restore total discipline and social order in the country. Law and Order shall reign high at all time with equal access to justice for all. Dear Comrades and Friends, Let me take this opportunity to commend all those comrades who have registered their membership with the Party todate by subscribing to the Party’s ideology and its broader ideals. I also wish to express my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Steering Committee to you comrades who have taken up positions of leadership in the Party at this difficult time. Your tremendous contribution and sacrifice have been invaluable indeed. I would like to implore you to continue.
I would also like to appeal to other progressive forces in the church, labour movement, farmers’ organizations, institutions of higher learning, intellectuals and the ordinary people in other walks of life to step forward and identify themselves with the Rainbow cause which is the people’s cause locally, regionally and also globally. We need the contribution of all of you.
As a political party at the local level, we stand for national unity founded on Zambia’s 73 ethnic groups and racial minorities who have continued to live in peace and united in their diversity. Our party logo which is also our election symbol highlights this fundamental spirit and principle. The 10 stars in the logo stand for the equality in status of Zambia’s 10 provinces and their people.
The flying Eagle symbolizes our people’s aspirations and determination to rise above all obstacles to attain economic independence while the colour red in the background signifies the continuous struggle for economic and social progress. Let us be resolved as a party to realize the ideals symbolised in this logo, hence our Party’s slogan “United We Can!”
I would like to appeal to this Congress to promote unity in the Party if we are to attain the objectives we have set for ourselves as leaders and the Party at large. Our unity must however, be anchored on strong ideological orientation and critical consciousness. A leader who lacks political and ideological consciousness will be ineffective and is ultimately a source of danger to the Party.
For the Party to maintain its strength it needs leaders who are exemplary and self-less at all levels of the Party structures. We need leaders in the Party who can inspire their fellow comrades to believe in the Party even when the road ahead is rough or looks bleak. As one writer (John White) ably put it “people do not follow programmes, but leaders who inspire them.”
Let us all remember this-good leadership will attract more members and conversely, bad leadership will alienate those who want to join our Party. This will lead to stagnation in the growth of the Party and pose a great risk to us during elections.
It is also important for us to remember that ours is a democratic Party. It should, therefore, be seen to promote and uphold democratic principles at all time. We should avoid the temptation of dictatorial dispositions in the day to day administration of the Party. We should instead treat one another as comrades with a common cause in the service of the Party and our homeland. Comrades treaty each other with love, mutual respect and consideration. None of us should be more special than another member of the Party but bearing in mind that we are each charged with different responsibilities. Our decision making process in party matters must be collective and should be conducted in a manner which builds consensus while ensuring that the final decision or resolution by every organ is in the best interest of the Party and our homeland at large.
Dear Comrades and Friends, This Congress has a long and special agenda being the first one since the formation of our Party in December, 2014.It is also the Congress preceding the presidential and general elections to be held next year in 2016. One of the tasks which this Congress is being called upon to undertake is to discuss and adopt the manifesto of our Party for the period 2016-2021.
I do not have to over emphasise the importance of the manifesto as a reference document for our Party in government.
This manifesto shall also form the basis of the social contract between the Party and the electorate as we campaign to take over the administration of the State next year. I therefore urge you to actively participate in the proceedings leading to the adoption of this very important document and the social and economic programme and the Party constitution.
The launch of the manifesto at the end of this Congress shall signify the launch of our campaign for the 2016 presidential and general elections. We should offer ourselves individually and collectively to go out and explain why and how the Rainbow Party is different from other political parties which carry different names but all seem to speak the same neo-liberal capitalist language proclaiming programmes and policies which todate have failed to uplift the welfare of our people.
We must restore the people’s hope that we have a social and economic programme under socialism which shall bring about fundamental changes in the manner we intend to administer the government. Let it be a message of hope and redemption to the workers and peasants across the country. Our manifesto must be a manifesto of the people and their well-being.
If PF calls an early election as they intend to do, let them find that the voters have a clear understanding of the Rainbow Party and its economic programme.
No amount of bribery can change the mind of a voter who has been engaged in a dialogue of mutual regard and respect about his/her life by a political party which unveils to them a tangible programme of work like ours. Dear Comrades and Friends, The work programme of this Congress shall culminate into the launch of the Rainbow Party as a political organisation of members committed to the same ideals and values under the banner of socialism as our guiding philosophy.
This individual and collective commitment should not be taken casually by anyone of us present here and those outside this Congress.
We must all be conscious that we have moved into a new political environment different from where we have come from in our political backgrounds. Let me start with the Party.
The Party must be bigger than all of us and it must be independent of all of us. It must enjoy common ownership by all the members irrespective of their social status. All of us must pay allegiance to the Party as a political entity. As members of the Party we must realise that we enjoy certain rights and also responsibilities.
The Party should not be used as a vehicle from which individual members derive benefits only. It is not a commercial entity at all but a social movement which should govern the diverse interests of members and non-members once in government in 2016. We should at all time consider ourselves proud and privileged members of this Party and continue to believe in its ideals and values as socialists. From time to time, the Party will call upon us either individually or collectively to undertake some responsibilities. Let us do so with utmost pride and devotion without the expectation of any reward or payment of any kind.
We must all cultivate the spirit and values of selfless service and voluntarism if our Party is to survive the difficult times ahead. As a young Party, we shall encounter many challenges now and in the future but we must remain resolved that the journey we have collectively embarked on is not and shall not be an easy ride for us.
However, this should not detract us from our ultimate goal to ensure that our homeland is transformed into the land of happiness and well-being for all who inhabit it irrespective of tribe, race, religion or creed. In conclusion, I thank you all and in particular those of our Comrades who worked day and night to organise this Congress and turn a dream into reality.
I also wish to express my profound gratitude to the well-wishers and friends of the Party who contributed financial and material support towards this historic event. We are proud to share this achievement with you today. I also thank all our Comrades who have travelled to come and render solidarity to us as we unveil a new era in the history of our homeland.
Dear Comrades and Friends, It is now my honour and privilege to declare the First National Congress of the Rainbow Party officially OPEN. Long live Africa, long live Zambia, long live the Rainbow Party, the struggle continues, victory is certain and may God bless you all. “United We Can!”. I THANK YOU.