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NAREP’S vision for Zambia and the role of the Diaspora speech by Elias C. Chipimo, Jr National Restoration Party President

Posted May 25, 2012

NAREP’S VISION FOR ZAMBIA AND THE ROLE OF THE DIASPORA

SPEECH BY ELIAS C. CHIPIMO, JR

NATIONAL RESTORATION PARTY PRESIDENT

 

DELIVERED AT THE COMMONWEALTH CLUB, LONDON ON 25 MAY 2012 ON THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCH OF NAREP UK

INTRODUCTION

GOOD EVENING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. IT IS AN HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE FOR ME TO STAND AMONG YOU TODAY TO SHARE WITH YOU OUR VISION OF A NEW ZAMBIA AND THE IMPORTANT ROLE THAT WE BELIEVE MANY OF YOU AS MEMBERS OF THE ZAMBIAN DIASPORA IN THE UNITED KINGDOM CAN PLAY IN SHAPING THE FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY.

LET ME FIRST BEGIN BY SHARING WITH YOU A BRIEF REFLECTION ON WHY NAREP WAS FORMED AND WHAT ROLE WE BELIEVE IT HAS PLAYED AND CAN CONTINUE TO PLAY IN A FUTURE ZAMBIA, A ZAMBIA IN WHICH ALL ARE GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO ADVANCE THEIR RESPECTIVE INTERESTS AND TALENTS, REGARDLESS OF DIFFERENCES IN AGE, GENDER, COLOUR, TRIBE, POLITICAL AFFILIATION OR INDEED LOCATION.

MANY OF YOU WOULD HAVE NO DOUBT BEEN SURPRISED TO HEAR THAT TWO YEARS BEFORE A GENERAL ELECTION, A GROUP OF YOUNG ZAMBIANS HAD FORMED A POLITICAL MOVEMENT AUDACIOUS ENOUGH TO CHALLENGE THE POLITICAL HEAVYWEIGHTS OF OUR TIME. CRAZY AS THE IDEA SEEMED, AND WITH LIMITED TIME, RESOURCES AND MEDIA SPACE, WE KNUCKLED DOWN TO THE BUSINESS OF CRAFTING A MESSAGE THAT WE BELIEVED WOULD RESONATE WITH THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE. AS THE CAMPAIGNS MOVED INTO A HIGHER GEAR, IT BECAME CLEAR THAT THE MOOD WAS FIRMLY ANCHORED ON CHANGING A REGIME THAT HAD BEEN IN POWER FOR FAR TOO LONG. THE MOST WE COULD HOPE FOR AT THAT TIME WAS TO SET A CLEAR AGENDA ON THE TYPE OF POLITICS THAT WOULD SHAPE FUTURE ELECTIONS AND THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP THAT WOULD BEST BE SUITED TO PLAY A POSITIVE ROLE IN THE NEW ENVIRONMENT.

NAREP CAMPAIGNED IN 2011 ON A PLATFORM OF DELIVERING POSITIVE CHANGE THROUGH VALUES BASED-LEADERSHIP. IN MAKING THE DECISION TO FORM A NEW PARTY, WE FACED 3 OPTIONS: (1) JOIN AN EXISTING PARTY; (2) CREATE A NEW ENTITY AND GO IT ALONE OR (3) BECOME A PRESSURE GROUP FOR CHANGE. IT WAS CLEAR, HOWEVER, THAT SOMETHING WAS LACKING IN THE POLITICAL ARENA. THERE WAS NO SHORTAGE OF PEOPLE THAT COULD DO THINGS THE WAY THEY HAD ALWAYS BEEN DONE AND OUR GOAL WAS NOT TO BECOME A POOR IMITATION OF THE STYLES AND APPROACHES THAT HAD FAILED OUR COUNTRY IN THE PAST.

WE HAD TO WEATHER A STORM OF CRITICISM FROM VARIOUS QUARTERS – INCLUDING THE DIASPORA – THAT ASSUMED WE WERE JUST ANOTHER OF THE MANY POLITICAL ACTORS THAT TEND TO EMERGE ON THE POLITICAL SCENE IN ZAMBIA FROM TIME TO TIME. SOME OF THE CRITICISM WAS WELL-INTENDED, SOME NOT SO WELL INTENDED BUT THAT (AS THEY SAY) IS POLITICS. AND SO WE KNEW THAT WE NEEDED TO BE DIFFERENT AND MORE RELEVANT TO THE PEOPLE WE WERE CLAIMING WE WANTED TO SERVE. WE NEEDED TO THINK AND ACT IN A MANNER THAT WOULD RESTORE CONFIDENCE IN POLITICS AS A MEANS OF IMPROVING LIVES. POLITICS HAS TO BE ABOUT SERVICE, POSITIVE CHANGE, SACRIFICE. POLITICS HAS TO BE LESS ABOUT POWER AND MORE ABOUT PEOPLE. NAREP WAS ESTABLISHED TO REMIND PEOPLE OF THIS NOBLE CALLING AND TO OFFER A NEW WAY OF MAKING POLITICS MORE RELEVANT TO THE PEOPLE.

A NEW GENERATION OF THINKING

DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES IN THE RUN-UP TO THE 2011 ELECTIONS, I WOULD JOKINGLY INTRODUCE MYSELF AS THE ONLY ZAMBIAN ON THE LIST OF PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES. BEING THE ONLY ONE AMONG THE 10 THAT WAS BORN AFTER INDEPENDENCE ON 24 OCTOBER 1964, EACH OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES WERE TECHNICALLY BORN IN NORTHERN RHODESIA MAKING THEM – WELL, NORTHERN RHODESIAN. THIS MAY SEEM SLIGHTLY MISCHIEVOUS BUT WITH MORE THAN HALF OF OUR POPULATION IN ZAMBIA BELOW THE AGE OF 20 AND WITH PROJECTIONS THAT MORE THAN 70 PERCENT OF THE VOTERS WILL BE BELOW THE AGE OF 35 AT THE NEXT ELECTION, THE MAJOR VOTING CONSTITUENCIES HAVE FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED.

THE MAJORITY OF THE VOTERS IN THE NEXT ELECTION WILL HAVE BEEN BORN 17 YEARS AFTER INDEPENDENCE AND WOULD HAVE BEEN BARELY 10 YEARS OLD WHEN THE ONE-PARTY STATE CAME TO AN END. THE ASPIRATIONS AND LEGITIMATE EXPECTATIONS OF THIS IMPORTANT DEMOGRAPHIC HAVE BEEN HEMMED IN BY UNEMPLOYMENT, LIMITED OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATIONAL ADVANCEMENT, APPALLING HEALTHCARE STANDARDS AND POOR OR NON-EXISTENT SOCIAL SERVICES. THESE AND OTHER FACTORS WILL BE THE BREEDING GROUND FOR A NEW WAVE OF DIASPORANS – HARD WORKING ZAMBIANS WHO HAVE SOUGHT TO MAKE A LIVING IN A PLACE THAT CAN ACCORD THEM AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LIFE OF DIGNITY FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES.

MORE SENIOR MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITIES HAVE NOT BEEN SPARED ANGUISH EITHER. IF THEY ARE LUCKY TO RECEIVE PENSIONS, THESE ARE MEAGRE AND HAVE NOT KEPT PACE WITH INFLATION. IN MANY INSTANCES PENSIONERS ARE DYING NOT HAVING CLAIMED THEIR GRATUITIES. MANY A MOTHER IS HAVING TO WORK LONG HOURS BREAKING STONES OR SELLING VEGETABLES ALONG THE STREET IN ORDER TO CATER TO THE NEEDS OF A FAMILY THAT HAS NO OTHER MEANS TO SURVIVE.

THERE ARE NO DOUBT SERIOUS SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHALLENGES THAT HAVE UNDERPINNED THIS STATE OF AFFAIRS: OUR POPULATION GROWTH HAS BEEN DOUBLING OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS (AS COMPARED TO POPULATION GROWTH RATES IN THE WEST WHICH DOUBLE EVERY 40 YEARS). THIS HAS PUT SEVERE CONSTRAINTS ON THE CAPACITY AND ABILITY OF GOVERNMENTS TO DELIVER AND MAINTAIN THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND SERVICES REQUIRED TO SUPPORT SUCH A RAPID INCREASE IN POPULATION.

COMPOUNDING THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN THE OVERDEPENDENCE OF SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS ON MINING AS THE MAIN DRIVER FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH – WHICH GROWTH HAS BEEN CONCENTRATED ALONG THE LINE OF RAIL BYPASSING THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION WHICH STILL RESIDES IN RURAL COMMUNITIES. ACCORDING TO THE CENSUS RESULTS RELEASED BY THE CENTRAL STATISTICS OFFICE IN 2010, 8 OUT OF ZAMBIA’S 13 MILLION PEOPLE (I.E. 60 PERCENT) ARE RURAL DWELLERS, CUT OFF FROM ESSENTIAL SERVICES LIKE ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER AND BASIC HEALTHCARE.

THEN NATURE AND EXTENT OF PROBLEMS CONFRONTING US AS A NATION, CLEARLY REQUIRE US TO APPLY A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO DEVELOPMENT. OUR THINKING MUST BE BOLD AND RADICAL. OUR CONVICTION FOR THE TYPE OF CHANGE WE KNOW WE NEED MUST BE RESOLUTE. THIS IS NO TIME TO ACCEPT THE NOTION THAT THE IDEAS AND APPROACHES OF THE PAST WILL RESOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE. TO DO THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN AND TO EXPECT A DIFFERENT RESULT WOULD – AT LEAST AS FAR AS PROFESSOR ALBERT EINSTEIN WAS CONCERNED – AMOUNT TO NOTHING SHORT OF INSANITY.

A NEW THRESHOLD

AND SO, IN SPITE OF THE MANY CHALLENGES CONFRONTING OUR NATION, WE STAND ON THE THRESHOLD OF A NEW HOPE FOR OUR FUTURE. ONE THAT WILL BE SHAPED BY ZAMBIAN WITHIN ZAMBIA AND ZAMBIANS LIVING, WORKING AND STUDYING ABROAD. THIS IS A TIME WHEN WE MUST DEFINE FOR OURSELVES THE TYPE OF NATION WE WANT TO SEE AND SET A COURSE TO PLAY THE ROLE THAT WILL MAKE IT A REALITY IN OUR LIFETIME. NO LONGER CAN WE SIT BACK AND ASSUME THAT SOMEONE ELSE WILL DO THE HEAVY LIFTING TO BRING ABOUT THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE. WE MUST BE THAT CHANGE. WE MUST SET THE EXAMPLE WE WISH TO SEE IN OUR POLITICAL LEADERSHIP – THE EXAMPLE THAT WILL GUIDE OUR CHILDREN AND A FUTURE GENERATION OF ZAMBIANS (IF THEY HAVE NOT BY THEN ABANDONED THEIR ORIGINAL IDENTITY) WHO WILL ASK: WHAT DID YOU DO TO MAKE OUR COUNTRY BETTER? WE MUST REKINDLE THE CONNECTION TO A TIME WHEN VALUES WERE NOT EASILY COMPROMISED; A TIME WHEN ALL ASPIRED TO EXCELLENCE, INTEGRITY, RESPONSIBILITY, SERVICE, EQUITY, HUMILITY, COMMITMENT AND A SENSE OF COMMUNITY. THESE 8 CORE VALUES FORM THE FOUNDATION OF NAREP’S VISION 3:3:8. THESE VALUES ARE WHAT NAREP STANDS FOR. THESE ARE THE VALUES ON WHICH WE WANT TO BE JUDGED – NOT JUST IN OFFICE, BUT LONG BEFORE WE ARE GIVEN THE PRIVILEGE TO LEAD OUR NATION. NOW IS THE TIME WHEN WE MUST SHOW OURSELVES TO BE WORTHY OF THE HIGH CALLING OF POLITICAL OFFICE.

VISION 3:3:8

OUR VISION IS OF A NEW ZAMBIA; ONE WHERE OUR PROSPERITY IS BASED ON THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE PLAYING A LEADING ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. WE BELIEVE THAT ZAMBIA WILL BE A RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPERPOWER. ON THE BACK OF THIS AMBITION WE CAN OPEN UP THE VAST UNTAPPED POTENTIAL WE POSSESS AS AN AGRICULTURAL GIANT ON THE CONTINENT. WITH OVER 40 PER CENT OF THE FRESH WATER IN SOUTHERN AFRICA AND OVER 420,000 SQUARE KILOMETRES OF MEDIUM TO HIGH QUALITY ARABLE LAND – AN AREA MORE THAN HALF THE SIZE OF FRANCE AND OF WHICH ONLY 15 PER CENT IS CURRENTLY UNDER CULTIVATION – THERE IS CLEARLY A LOT THAT CAN AND MUST BE DONE. WITH A NATURAL CONNECTION TO 9 SURROUNDING COUNTRIES, OUR UNIQUE GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION LENDS ITSELF WELL TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SIGNIFICANT INLAND LOGISTICS HUB.

THESE 3 OUTCOMES (RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPERPOWER, CONTINENTAL AGRICULTURAL GIANT AND LOGISTICS HUB) ARE THE FIRST 3 IN OUR VISION 3:3:8. THEY ARE SUPPORTED BY 3 PILLARS OF: GOVERNANCE, A CLEAR POLICY ON ATTAINING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND  A COMMITMENT TO MODERNISATION OF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE. THESE ARE THE SECOND 3 IN VISION 3:3:8. THE 8 CORE VALUES (EXCELLENCE, INTEGRITY, RESPONSIBILITY, SERVICE, EQUITY, HUMILITY, COMMITMENT AND A SENSE OF COMMUNITY ) FORM THE FOUNDATION FOR THE 3 OUTCOMES AND THE 3 PILLARS ON WHICH THEY STAND. OUR VISION OF A NEW ZAMBIA, ONE WHERE OUR PROSPERITY IS BASED ON THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE PLAYING A LEADING ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IN LINE WITH VISION 3:3:8, IS INDEED BOLD BUT NEVERTHELESS ATTAINABLE.

SO WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE DIASPORA?

THE REALITY IS THAT THE WORK TO BE UNDERTAKEN IS ENORMOUS AND WILL REQUIRE ALL THE SKILL, TALENT AND CAPABILITIES THAT WE HAVE AS A NATION. THOSE LIVING IN THE DIASPORA ARE UNIQUELY QUALIFIED TO OFFER THE NEW IDEAS AND EXPERIENCES THAT HAVE SHAPED THEIR TIME ABROAD. IT WAS GEORGE BERNARD SHAW WHO SAID: “THE REASONABLE MAN ADAPTS HIMSELF TO THE WORLD; THE UNREASONABLE ONE PERSISTS IN TRYING TO ADAPT THE WORLD TO HIMSELF. THEREFORE ALL PROGRESS DEPENDS ON THE UNREASONABLE MAN”! NOW I AM NOT SUGGESTING THAT THOSE LIVING IN THE UK DIASPORA ARE UNREASONABLE BUT LIVING IN DIASPORA WILL HAVE GIVEN YOU EXPECTATIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY THAT MIGHT SEEM UNREASONABLE BACK HOME.

NOW I AM NOT ASKING YOU TO RUSH HOME AND LEAVE THE LIFE YOU HAVE ESTABLISHED HERE. CERTAINLY THOSE THAT ARE ABLE TO PLAY A ROLE BACK HOME WHILE THEY ARE HERE ARE AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES AND EMPLOYEES THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE LESS WELL-OFF OR WITHOUT A JOB. YOU PROVIDE AN UNOFFICIAL SAFETY NET FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS AND YOUR REMITTANCES HELP TO PROP UP OUR ECONOMY. THIS MUST CONTINUE TO BE ENCOURAGED. YET YOU HAVE OFTEN BEEN TREATED WITH DISDAIN AND EXCLUDED FROM VOTING IN ELECTIONS WHEN MANY PROGRESSIVE SOCIETIES SEE THIS AS A MATTER OF RIGHT. THERE IS ALSO A SENSE THAT DIASPORANS ARE VIEWED SUSPICIOUSLY FOR WANTING GOVERNMENT TO LEGALISE DUAL CITIZENSHIP: I BELIEVE THAT THIS IS A MATTER THAT HAS BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD BY SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS SINCE INDEPENDENCE. THEY HAVE TENDED TO TIE NATIONAL LOYALTY TO MAINTAINING ONLY ONE CITIZENSHIP YET MANY SEEK TO PROCURE A SECOND CITIZENSHIP FOR PURELY PRACTICAL REASONS. DUAL CITIZENSHIP SHOULD BE ALLOWED EVEN IF IT IS RESTRICTED TO THOSE WHO DO NOT SEEK POLITICAL OFFICE – AS IS PROPOSED UNDER THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION. IT WILL ENABLE ZAMBIANS TO BE IN A POSITION TO MOVE FREELY ABOUT THE WORLD CONDUCTING THEIR BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES AS ZAMBIANS. AFTER ALL, THE PRACTICAL REASONS FOR OBTAINING ANOTHER CITIZENSHIP ARE THE PRIMARY DRIVER FOR SUCH A DECISION AND NOT AN ABSENCE OF LOYALTY.

WHY NAREP UK?

THE UNITED KINGDOM HAS PERHAPS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF ZAMBIAN DIASPORANS. OUR HISTORIC AND ECONOMIC TIES TO BRITAIN CAN AND SHOULD BE HARNESSED IN A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL MANNER THROUGH DIASPORA LINKS. THE UK REMAINS THE OVERWHELMING REFERENCE POINT FOR OUR GOVERNANCE AND EDUCATIONAL TRADITIONS AS WELL AS AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF TRADE AND ECONOMIC INTERACTION. NOT RECOGNISING THE ROLE OF THE DIASPORA IS TO IGNORE AN IMPORTANT ALLY AND ASSET IN OUR QUEST FOR RELEVANCE IN A WORD THAT IS BECOMING MORE GLOBALISED WITH EVERY PASSING DAY.

SO WHAT AM I ASKING YOU TO DO? WELL, I WANT YOU TO HELP US TO HARNESS THE COLLECTIVE TALENTS THAT EXIST WITHIN YOUR RANKS. USE NAREP UK AS A PLATFORM FOR DEVELOPING STRATEGIC MECHANISMS FOR CONSTRUCTIVE AND EFFECTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY IN ORDER TO ADDRESS MAJOR DIASPORA CONCERNS. I WANT YOU TO WORK WITH US TO CONTINUE TO PLAY A RELEVANT AND TRANSFORMATIONAL ROLE IN ADDRESSING NEEDS OF COMMUNITIES WITHIN ZAMBIA.

I THANK THE TEAM OF DEDICATED AND COMMITTED INDIVIDUALS THAT HAVE MADE THIS LAUNCH POSSIBLE – WHOSE INITIATIVE GAVE RISE TO TODAY’S EVENT. THAT SPIRIT MUST BE WHAT CARRIES NAREP UK TO THE LEVEL OF A RELEVANT AND FOCUSSED ORGANISATION THAT CAN PROVIDE A MEANINGFUL PLATFORM FOR THE POLITICAL ARTICULATING OF THE CONCERNS OF THE DIASPORA.

CONCLUSION

AND SO THAT IS MY MISSION TODAY – TO INSPIRE YOU TO A NEW BELIEF ABOUT HOW WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO ADDRESS OUR MUTUAL CONCERNS: DIASPORANS AND NON-DIASPORANS ALIKE. THIS IS NOT ABOUT “US” AND “THEM”. IT IS ABOUT ZAMBIA AND THE MORE HOPEFUL FUTURE THAT BECKONS FOR OURSELVES AND FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS, FROM WHOM WE TRULY INHERIT THE EARTH.

I THANK YOU ALL