Those who want to smear socialism often try to equate it to dictatorship. In a world in which peace truly reigns, democracy can take many forms of expression in a fair society. In a world in which the world hegemony of the mightiest imperialist power reigns and the peoples’ sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence are threatened, democracy won’t have many forms of expression. For instance, China, Cuba and Vietnam – in their exceptional circumstances – have each found their own form of expression of democracy, and we believe it suits their own conditions ideally. Given what they have gone through, they couldn’t have withstood the imperialist hatred, onslaught, blockade, threats, acts of aggression if their people weren’t politically aware and united.

For us, democracy means that governments are closely linked to the people, have the support of the people and devote themselves entirely to working and struggling for the people and the people’s interests. Democracy implies defense of all the rights of citizens, including the right to independence, freedom, national dignity and honour. For us, democracy means fraternity and true equality among men and women and equal opportunities for all men and women, for every human being who is born.

Capitalist or bourgeois democracy doesn’t contain any of these elements. How can they talk of democracy in a country where a minority has immense fortunes and others have nothing? What kind of equality or fraternity can exist between a beggar and a millionaire or billionaire? What rights do the poor, the dispossessed and the exploited have? In capitalism, it’s an old trick, an old tale, an old story. What they have done is establish a system of domination with all the resources of wealth, publicity and everything else in the hands of a class that maintains discrimination and excludes the rest of society from any real participation and from any real possibility of exercising their rights.

What they usually call democracy is a mechanism that serves as a tool; it’s a system that includes not only the political but also the economic and social ideas of imperialism. For us, democracy is something else. We think that the exploitation of one human being by another must disappear before you can real democracy. We are absolutely convinced of that. As long as there is enormous inequality among human beings, there isn’t – there can’t be – any democracy. And where there’s subordination to another country, that must disappear, too, before democracy can exist.

If lack of democracy in the world were the preamble to social change, capitalism would have disappeared already, because capitalism was developed on the basis of force, repression and slavery, especially of Africans. True democracy can exist only in fair, just and humane social system, a socialist system. In the conditions of our country – Zambia – we believe we can achieve our goals through a multiparty political dispensation. And it shouldn’t be forgotten, or if it is not known it should be known, that the July 1990 return to a multiparty political dispensation project was a socialist project initiated by socialists Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika and Mbita Chitala. And both are still alive to testify to this. I can speak about this with absolute confidence because I was a participant in that project.

Fred M’membe
President of the Socialist Party


  1. China, Vietnam, and Cuba are not democracies by any stretch of the imagination. Remember Tianamen Square massacres or suppression of freedoms in Hong Kong? A key ingredient of a democracy is the right for citizens to elect leaders of their choice. Clearly, this is conspicuous in Mmembe’s list of dictatorships.
    Mmembe, you can’t fool anybody. Socialism is a failed ideology discarded like a piece of spent gum. A pairwise comparison of countries shows a free market economy is a far better alternative: North vs South Korea; Tanzania vs Kenya, etc. Socialism is not about equality and a better life for all. It has yielded nothing of value except oligarchs in Russia, millions trying to flee Cuba for the USA, and millions more traumatised in Eritrea and North Korea. And yes, it’s about dictatorship, incompatible with human rights and the rule of law. It denigrates religious freedoms such as enshrined in our own constitution. A socialist government in Zambia has a 1 in a quintillion chance of ever happening and would make the country stick out like a sore thumb in the region.


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