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Official Launch and Presentation of the Vision of the National Restoration Party (NAREP)

Posted Nov 01, 2012

Beyond Change: Towards Transformation

Ladies and gentlemen. Invited guests. Fellow Zambians. It is indeed both an honour and a pleasure for me to welcome you all to the official launch and presentation of the vision of the National Restoration Party, a party that we believe will transform the way politics is conducted in this country. I know you are all probably wondering why we have found it necessary to launch yet another political party. Before explaining the reasons for this decision, let me say a little about the background to the journey we feel compelled to undertake.

It was the Chinese philosopher Lao Tse who once said: “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

The journey we are about to undertake is an exciting one. In many ways, this is the first major step. But it is not entirely new. And mine are not the only feet that will walk it. It is a journey based on a bold and ambitious vision and the desire held by our forefathers and our mothers in a time gone by. It is a journey towards the realisation of a vision built upon the dreams of every Zambian man and woman, boy and girl. A vision founded upon the belief that existed at the time of our independence:

  • when everyone could dare to dream of the freedom to choose their destiny
  • when the yoke of colonialism could finally be cast aside
  • when the foundation of a new beginning for a new nation could be laid down firmly with eager and determined hands.

A time when we could believe in who we wanted to be as a nation because the spirit of our dreams was so alive within us. A time when nothing could hold us back.

And it was a collective desire. A feeling that compelled us to work together: beyond tribe, beyond religion, beyond gender.

Indeed, the journey I speak about today is a journey of both hope and faith. Hope that there is more that can be offered to the people of Zambia. Faith in what God has in store for us, if only we can believe that He will use us to restore the nation to the glory He always intended for it. But before I share the purpose of this journey with you, let me first take a moment to outline where we are as a nation today in order to remind us of who we are; what we need to do; and why we need to do it.

Our nation has not had a long history. We have been independent for less than 50 years. during that time, having moved from colonialism to multi-party democracy under a form of universal voting rights, we took a major detour along the way venturing into a period of one-party rule. It was a time when the best intentions produced results that limited the individual s drive to excel in his or her own thoughts and aspirations. For the right reasons and with the best intentions, we did the wrong thing. After eighteen years this path was eventually abandoned and we re-embraced multi-party democracy. But again, and in spite of the best intentions, re-embracing multi-party politics took some getting used to and ended up producing some unwelcome results. We did not fully embrace the responsibility that should have accompanied the pursuit of our rights. Power became a goal in itself rather than a means to an end. Personal advancement at the expense of the majority defined the relationships between us.

The return to multi-party politics promised the type of prosperity and peace we should be enjoying in 2010 and beyond. But anybody living in Zambia today knows that while we are indeed a rich country, our human index statistics portray a nation that is poor. And while we are not at war with any of our neighbouring states, we are not really a nation that is at peace with itself. Our politicians seem to be at constant war with one another. We call ourselves a Christian nation yet our conduct is more reflective of a nation that never has the love of Christ as its goal.

And while all the shouting is going on, development remains stunted:

  • death and disease knock on the door of every household that is unable to afford drugs to treat complicated as well as common ailments
  • poor feeder roads constrain rural development
  • flooding and related diseases like cholera occur every rainy season in high density areas with no solution in sight
  • constant disruptions in energy and fuel supplies have become an accepted part of business and daily living
  • employment remains elusive for the many including our youth and the nation’s school-leavers

And in the middle of all this, we seem shamelessly proud that we can still convince foreign nations to pay for the problems we have largely brought upon ourselves.

Our politicians seem to have no long term vision or plan to take us to new heights as a nation. At a time such as this, every Zambian should be asking the question: what can I do for my country?

Many of us sit idly by as our politicians fight with each other; when the nation is being torn apart at the core.

We can no longer blame only the politicians for the state of politics in our country. We must all examine our lives and see where we have individually failed our nation. Each one of us regularly faces the choice about whether to embrace or reject a culture of hate; whether to embrace or reject a culture of violence; whether to embrace or reject a culture of insults. Each of us can decide to do the right thing when it becomes clear to us that our action can make a positive difference. We cannot take satisfaction in blaming corruption and intolerance on our political leadership when in our very own homes; in our very own workplaces, in our churches and social communities, we remain small dictators that reject correction and wise counsel from the people around us who see our faults all too clearly. When we ourselves lie to, steal from and cheat one another daily.

And this is where the change and transformation of our nation must begin. It must start from within; with each one of us seeking to understand the role we have played in harming our common interests. With each one of us seeking to understand how we can make things better. We must ask ourselves what it is we have to do to be more responsible citizens and create the Zambia that we all wish to live in.

A New Beginning

Today, we stand on the brink of a new beginning a time to call upon the better instinct within each one of us to make the sacrifices that will see this nation become great again. The dreams we have for the nation today should encapsulate the dreams and aspirations of every Zambian:

  • Every grandmother that dreams of a better life for her orphaned grandchildren left homeless by the ravages of life in a country that has failed to adequately protect the vulnerable
  • Every neglected or abused child that longs for a caring home as he or she wanders from street to street seeking safety from a cruel world
  • Every hardworking miner, who wants a bigger share of the pie while he sweats and labours for investors in foreign capitals yet is not able to provide a decent way of life for his family
  • Every security guard who longs to acquire a house and is forced to live on a meagre salary while protecting property he or she can never hope to own
  • Every rural dweller that yearns for the timely delivery of farming inputs but has no decent feeder road to his or her community limiting the chance for progress
  • Every family member that seeks a long life for its loved ones but has to endure the unbearable news of yet another fatal but preventable road traffic accident
  • Every police officer that wants to do the right thing but has to fight the urge to take a bribe when every inclination within our society expects him or her to do so
  • Every hard-working nurse, doctor, teacher that wants to have a decent standard of living and to be respected for the work that they do
  • Every senior citizen whose meagre pension has been comprehensively eroded by inflation if he or she is lucky enough to even have a pension in the first place
  • Every one of our youth that dreams of greatness but leaves school with no hope of a decent job, having depended on an education system that could never have prepared them well enough for the life ahead

We cannot go on like this.

Value-based Change

The word on everyone’s lips today is CHANGE! Change! Change! We all know that the country is in desperate need of change.

But it should not be change for the sake of change. It should not be the type of change that is driven by a sense of desperation. It must be change based on a vision and deep conviction about what we need to do in order to restore the values that make us all personally responsible for upholding principles of honesty, humility, respect, tolerance, forbearance, hard work, sacrifice and a commitment to serve.

We need once again to summon up the spirit of sacrifice and service that drove the nationalists in northern rhodesia to fight for a better future for an indigenous population that had been reduced to underclass status. Men and women who sought a new way for our nation. We need to call upon our better instinct; the voice inside that knows and understands that it cannot be right to take what does not belong to us; to corrupt the system that so many depend on; to use our official positions to enrich ourselves; to deprive our hospitals of vital drugs.

The New Generation of Leadership

I want to speak for a few moments directly to the generation of Zambians born around the time of our independence and thereafter.

Every generation must strive to leave its mark on its nation s history. But it never does this alone. Working hand in hand with those who went before us and recognising the values that our forefathers stood for; the values they lived and died for, we must now play our role responsibly and make our mark in history. Ours is the generation that has benefited the most from the struggles of our forefathers. Yet we have not played our part in making the necessary sacrifice that truly defines a generation of transformational leaders. And that is what we must now aspire to be. Not to be leaders that seek only change:

  • we must be true leaders, leaders that can respond to the challenge of our time
  • we must seek to go beyond change
  • we must seek a national transformation
  • we must dare to dream of a destination for our nation that exceeds the wildest imagination of what kind of place it can be.

And we must reject the idea that we are too clean and politics too dirty; that some of us are too elitist to fight for the common man. We should reject the idea that we can’t significantly reduce corruption and that the people have no choice but to give in to it. Today is the day that the foundation of our character must be dug up and laid anew. Today, is the day we must stand up and be counted for the people of Zambia. Today is the day we define a new hope for our nation, to restore its fortunes and make it great again.

NAREP

It is my privilege and honour to be able to finally announce that a group of concerned and fully committed Zambians has decided to form a political movement called the National Restoration Party (or NAREP). Our vision is to see a transformed Zambia; a nation directed by leaders who want to be judged by performance and principle rather than power and possessions secretly accumulated while in office; a government that will place excellence, integrity, sacrifice and service above self-interest at all times. Leaders that will offer a beacon of responsibility, compassion and hope not just to our people and to the continent of africa but to the world, establishing a nation in which quality healthcare, education and infrastructure are accessible to all Zambians as they aspire to attain their full potential.

NAREP will train our long-suffering youth as well as the unemployed and create world class jobs for them allowing them to finally dream of having real prosperity in their lives. NAREP will provide financial support to the poor and vulnerable to enable them to have their own homes. NAREP will pursue a vision that will bring electricity and quality healthcare and education to every village in Zambia no matter how remotely located it is. The technology is available to make this a reality today so that no mother has to send her children to the river to fetch water for her home when they should be in school. NAREP will establish a policy that will allow us to reduce our dependence on expensive imported oil and to be done with the persistent power cuts and fuel lines that are common every year. NAREP will introduce flat low taxes for all and make Zambia the preferred destination for business. Business that will support development of local talent and raise the standard of our products and services to levels comparable to the best in the world. We will combine technology with agriculture to transform the rural landscape into an oasis of activity and innovation. We will modernise all our cities and towns and train our civil servants to the highest standards possible so that they will be true and efficient servants of the people. Within 90 days we will launch our manifesto setting out how these goals will be achieved.

In order to play my part in pursuit of this vision, I have resigned from the law firm I established 15 years ago, leaving it to my colleagues to take it to greater heights which I have no doubt in my mind they will do. I have resigned from the boards that I proudly served on these many years; I have made the goal of turning our country around my most important career decision to date. I have determined to overcome my fear of what the future may hold. It will be enough that i made a contribution to creating a legacy for my children and for the generations to come. That legacy will be a restoration of dignity and other higher values to politics. It will be to finally reconnect the needs of the people to their elected officials so that their vote can result in a real and meaningful improvement in their lives. For those of my generation wondering what sacrifice they can make, I want to encourage you to define for yourselves how you want to be remembered.

But in a land overcrowded by individuals with political intentions and partisan dreams, it is fair to ask why this contribution has to be through a new political party rather than an existing one. Well, the sad reality is that many political parties have really become relevant only to their leadership. They have abandoned the very communities for which they are supposed to exist. Indeed, political parties no longer seem relevant to creating meaningful change in people s lives. They have not created a tolerant political climate. They possess limited vision and have failed to inspire the development and emergence of youthful, energetic and people-centred leadership.

As the National Restoration Party, we believe that political parties should exist to achieve one goal. That goal is ensuring that development is delivered to people all people, particularly those at the very grassroots level.

In countries like ours, the development benefits tend to trickle first to areas along the line of rail, to the exclusion of the rural communities that most need intervention. The failure of political parties to deliver on their development goals has even prompted some to consider the idea of abandoning them altogether. But the fact that political parties in Zambia have not worked to deliver development to the people in the past does not make the idea of them bad. We should never seek to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But we do need to apply our minds to understanding what has gone wrong why leadership in nearly every existing party either fears or is unable to regularly test its popularity and account for its achievements at a national convention until forced to do so.

The sad truth is that politics has largely become an industry that relatively few participate in for themselves under the false explanation that they are doing it for people. It is because of this that many orphans living in high density communities see hope only in civic groups that do a commendable job in keeping them housed, fed, clothed and educated. This is why the majority of Zambians such as those living in the rural areas of every province having been neglected for far too long feel that the promises of politicians are meaningless. They no longer believe that politics can make a real difference in their lives. They need to feel that someone cares enough about them to deliver on the expectations that every Zambian is entitled to have. This is why the clergy feel compelled to speak out against the injustices perpetrated by leadership intoxicated with state power. Understanding the compassion of Christ, the church should never sit idly by as it strives to meet the needs of the vulnerable.

But to be fair, not everyone is in politics for themselves. Many particularly at the lower levels are trying their best to make a difference and to be effective representatives of the communities that have put them into office. You see, many politicians tend to start out with the best intentions. But something happens that takes them away from their original goal of service. They forget their calling; lose their commitment to serve and focus instead on the allowances and gratuities they will now earn with little regard to the impact on the nation s limited financial resources.

Responsible Change and the Theme of Restoration

So it is clear that we need responsible change. Anyone who cares about this country knows that it is a country in desperate need of change. But if all we seek to do is to change leadership at the top then we will not have made any real change at all. We will again have simply transferred the right to exercise power from one group to another. We will have replaced the furniture but the structures that sustain greed; that sustain mediocrity; that sustain corruption and neglect will have remained intact.

As a new party, we too will eventually fall into the clutches of greed and mediocrity if we do not make higher values the basis of everything that our party stands for. The National Restoration Party (NAREP) believes that value-based leadership needs to be re-introduced into politics in Zambia. We believe that we have both the vision and the commitment to upholding the values that can drive transformational change in a nation that must account for the abundance of wealth with which it has been blessed. We define our vision and ambition under the theme of restoration . This is not a desire to bring back the past. It is a desire to take the nation to a place it should always have occupied. It is a desire to restore a positive sense of pride in our nation. As NAREP, we will always reject self-interest at the expense of the nation. We will restore pride in hard work. We will ensure adherence to accountability. We will undertake our duty with determination and commitment. We will respect those that went before us. We will challenge and criticise the decisions of our opponents when they go wrong but we will never insult them.

Our party will be open to everyone. Our only condition is that those that seek to be a part of it be prepared to work hard for the people and adhere to the values upon which its foundations will be laid. We will not close the door to those that are in politics today but now wish to embrace value-based change. The only price will be to uphold the vision and the values that must now drive this nation forward. The national restoration party will never be a party based upon an individual or on a regional affiliation. It will be a party in which the leaders are merely the custodians of its values and its vision.

Our leadership must carry the nation to new levels of collective responsibility. It must be leadership that will set an example in excellence, sacrifice, service, humility, trust, honesty and accountability. Disciplined leadership that will inspire as many as possible to achieve their full potential, never doing for others what they can be inspired to do for themselves:

  • we will always ask you to remind us of our values and to hold us accountable to them at all times and not only during elections
  • we will promote a strong, vibrant, committed and fully independent press understanding and accepting that such freedom allows them to be as harsh as necessary to us to make us realise the importance of our work for the people
  • we will make all of our actions as transparent as possible

This is our promise our commitment to you: we will work for you and support you, without discrimination on the basis of gender, tribe, nationality, origin, race, religion or even political affiliation. We will work tirelessly because that is our duty to you as leaders to serve all of the people. This is reflected in our motto: a heart for the people . As a part of the NAREP leadership, we will serve not our interests but yours. If we do this right, well, then our interests will be served too. And when all is said and done; when it is time for us to usher in new leadership, we should walk on, not seeking to hold onto power or waiting to be thanked by our nation, but thankful that we have been able to perform our duty well when the challenge of our time called upon us to do so.

As we move forward with this new initiative, we should understand that leadership cannot achieve this type of transformation alone. We need a new nation, a new Zambia, one in which all of us are hardworking; all of us are sacrificial; all of us are tolerant, forward looking and responsible. For the nation to truly change and be transformed, everyone must play a role. We have only one Zambia and the spirit of our nation is grieving; its soul is downcast as it looks out to a dark horizon.

But no more. For we can now build upon the hope of restoration. We can be the alternative option for Zambia, together taking our country forward to the place it should always have been.

To move ourselves forward responsibly, we all need to accept that we cannot build our future nation on a foundation of mediocrity, greed, intolerance and insults. No matter how angered we are by what we see around us, we must never give in to a desire to tear one another down. We must seek instead to challenge and inspire one another with bold and visionary ideas.

I speak to you today with a tremendous feeling in my heart that the weight of our nation’s destiny lies firmly within the grasp of those willing to assume responsible leadership. It is time that we take our turn to make the sacrifices that will make this nation great again.

To those that will seek to join us but still have fear in their hearts as to what the future holds, i ask you to remember this: the darkest hour is always before dawn; yet no matter how dark the night, the morning will come. To those who believe that the time is too short or that some authority can douse the flame of hope burning in our hearts I say this: the race is not to the swift, nor is the battle to the strong but time and chance happen to them all. God is able to achieve for us, infinitely more that we can ask or imagine.

In conclusion, let me remind us all of the challenge before us to transform the nation through personal sacrifice and integrity. Let us rekindle the spirit that inspired our nationalist leaders to fight for our independence. Let us all each of us start the change from within. In 1964 it was independence; in 1991 multi-party and the hour; in 2011 restoration for national transformation.

Let me end by making an appeal:

  • to the church leadership, live the change and be the example of selflessness and sacrifice that the nation needs to follow and always speak out against the injustice you see in our nation
  • to the small-scale entrepreneur, remember that great economies were built by individuals like you
  • to the academics, we appeal to you too for we are living in an information age and your knowledge must be applied towards developing local solutions to our industrial challenges
  • to our mothers and sisters and to our daughters; you have been at the forefront of change from the days of old, we appeal to you to continue in your efforts and to work with us towards a brighter day.

Our party motto: a heart for the people speaks to our reason for existing to give real and responsible hope to all of the people and not just the few. Our symbol is a right hand over the heart as a physical pledge of our commitment to this goal. I ask you all to join with me now in welcoming a new hope for Zambia; a new vision for our country; a new party that will return our nation to where it always should have been.

Please rise with me now to herald the first steps of a party with a vision and a commitment to serve all of the people all of the time. Rise with me now to welcome the first steps of NAREP, the National Restoration Party.

I thank you. And may God’s grace be with you all.

Elias Chipimo
Interim President, National Restoration Party