NUMSA statement on the 11th August 2016 Zambia National Elections

We, the more than 350 000 members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) love Zambia and consider it our home too.
Zambia will for us always be dear in our hearts and minds as the country whose people unselfishly gave shelter and provided military training bases to freedom fighters not just from South Africa, but from all over the African Continent.
Zambia has a proud history of hosting many peace and independence talks for many African countries, including South Africa.
The people of Zambia – all of them – have paid a heavy price for the liberation of the African Continent. Part of that price today is reflected in the poverty, unemployment and inequalities that millions of Zambians are suffering from.
We South Africans – all of us – owe Zambia and Zambian a huge debt!
As Zambians go to the polls on the 11th of August 2016 this Thursday, it is impossible to ignore the violent build-up to these elections, and for the first time in its 52 year peaceful history of independence, the real possibility of civil war in Zambia, after the elections.  It is these fears we address in this press statement.
Like South African workers, millions of Zambian workers cannot find employment today. This situation is worse among young people. Millions of Zambian women struggle every day to feed their families. Again, just like South Africa, millions of Zambians in the rural areas experience excruciating poverty.
Just like South Africa after 1994, Zambia after 1964 has seen a tiny fraction of Zambians become very rich, in the midst of all this national poverty and widespread unemployment. This situation in Zambia has become worse after 1991.
After the democratic breakthrough in South Africa in 1994, we have seen the destruction of many Zambian businesses by South African white capital. This has further fuelled unemployment and mass poverty among Zambians.
It is in these explosive conditions – massive poverty, millions of Zambians without work and millions of Zambian young people living hopeless lives that we fear the undemocratic practices and violence that have precedent the 11th August 2016 national elections may pause grave dangers to the people of Zambia after the elections.
While the two major parties – the United Party for National Development (UPND) and the Patriotic Front (PF)  – have both failed to contain and eliminate violence for the period leading up to the polls, it is the constitutional duty of the governing party and current president of the country – Mr Edgar Changwa Lungu – to stump out violence.
The president of the Republic of Zambia has sworn to uphold and defend the Zambian Constitution and to protect the lives and property of all Zambians.
We and the whole world will hold Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu liable for all the violence before, during and immediately after the elections, as the person constitutionally empowered and mandated to protect the lives and property of all human beings in Zambia in general and Zambians in particular.
We repeat: the government of the Republic of Zambia has a duty and responsibility to all Zambians and all human beings in Zambia, to protect lives and property!
People the world over are shocked at the impunity of the Zambian Revenue Authority over their failure to abide by the ruling that ordered that assets of The Post be returned back to The Post.
We bow our heads in shame as the African working class that such an African jewel as The Post has had to celebrate its 25th year anniversary in such horrible circumstances! The Post is a newspaper that has rivalled some of the world’s best newspapers – and we the African working class are proud of its heroic history.
There have been very credible reports of discontent about where the ballot papers have been produced, changes made to the electoral laws and regulations, and even appointments of electoral officers.
We call upon all Zambians to resist the temptation to slide into more violence, especially after the elections.
We make a special appeal to all the workers of Zambia (employed or not) and the rural population – not to be used by politicians for their selfish political interests to further violence.
We the Black and African workers of South Africa have learnt one main lesson we must share with the Zambian working class: unless the working class organise itself as a conquering force to win state power for themselves as a class, politicians from the other classes will always use us for their own ends.
It is not by accident that both in South Africa and in Zambia workers blood has already been spilt in the elections.
We stand ready to offer all the people of Zambia in general and the Zambian working class in particular, any solidarity they may demand of us!
We remain confident, however, that both our countries will never conquer poverty, unemployment, inequalities, disease, ignorance, homelessness, hunger and all the miseries which the majority of our peoples suffer from until and unless the working class are organized for themselves to win state power from the capitalist classes of both countries!
Irvin Jim
073 157 6384