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 Here is the reply of our candidate for Oxford West & Abingdon, Mike Foster, to an invitation to comment on Oxford University Student Union General Election Manifesto. The Socialist Party isn’t standing in this election to support particular reforms or changes to the current system. This is because we believe that the way our society is put together can’t be made to work in the interests
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The life expectancy of Zambians is between 48 and 56 years. So it doesn't make sense to raise retirement age to 65. Importantly, a law should be passed to enable retirees to get their pensions fast and easily.
In November 2014, Acting President Guy L. Scott signed Statutory Instrument No. 63 of 2014 that raised the retirement age from 55 to 65 years, or 35 years of service.
In December 2014, the Minister of Labor and Social Security is quoted by Doreen Nawa of the Zambia Daily Mail as having defended the change in the country’s retirement age as follows:

“We adjusted the retirement age as a way of increasing people’s life span. Information has shown that most people that have retired at 55 have died earlier because of many factors.”

The Minister is also quoted as having said that retirement age in the southern African region and beyond is 60 years.

In March 2015, President Edgar C. Lungu directed that changes be effected through an amendment to Statutory Instrument No.63 of 2014 signed by Acting President Scott to introduce a graduated arrangement designed to provide for the following three retirement options:

(a) Early retirement – 55 years;
(b) Normal retirement – 60 years; and
(c) Late retirement – 65 years.

These changes to the retirement age are unacceptable for a number of reasons. Firstly, the changes needed to be made in sincere consultations with relevant non-governmental stakeholders—including the Zambia Federation of Employers and the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions and its affiliate labor unions—rather than by presidential decree.
Secondly, it is unrealistic to have retirement options that are above our people’s life expectancy that is currently between 48 and 56 years, depending on one’s source of information, which places the country in the 160th position out of 182 countries surveyed by CountryEconomy.Com.

According to the findings of an international health study published online in the Lancet (a medical journal) in May 2010, Zambia had the worst female death rate and the second-worst male death rate in the world.
So, there is no wisdom in mimicking countries whose citizens have higher life spans in setting the retirement age for employees in our country!
Therefore, realistic retirement options for Zambian employees should have been the following:

(a) 45 years old, or 25 years of service – early retirement;
(b) 50 years old, or 30 years of service – normal retirement; and
(c) 55 years old, or 35 years of service – late retirement.

There is also a need for Parliament to enact legislation designed to make retirement benefits payable within 60 or so days (Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays inclusive) from a retiree’s last date of work. Benefits (or any portion thereof) not paid within this period should fetch 5% interest per month.
Delayed payment of retirement benefits has made some retired citizens to re-enter the job market as part-time workers to earn a living while they await the disbursement of their benefits, while others have died before they are paid their benefits.
The high levels of unemployment in the country militate against the increase in the retirement age. There is no doubt that the higher retirement age is going to lead to unprecedented numbers of young job seekers roaming the streets due to inadequate job openings mainly resulting from older citizens’ delayed retirement.

read more here

28 min 1 sec ago
Reformers want to use the electoral process as a means of gathering as many votes as possible. Reform manifestos display the small changes advocated as attractively as possible, with little concern for educating the voters. Priority is given to winning elections and electing leaders. Reforms are to be pursued today, tomorrow the revolution - and tomorrow never comes. The Socialist Party is also prepared to use the electoral process, but with a view to challenging capitalist control of political power. The first task is to educate people and make socialists. The success of socialist candidates will measure the extent to which this activity achieves its aim. The Socialist Party no stake in how capitalism is run. Socialists are opposed to capitalism however it is organised. We do not enter into the debate about whether free market capitalism is better or worse than nationalisation. We oppose the profit system in all its forms and work only for its replacement by socialism.
The nature and meaning of democracy in society has become a topic of major interest in the media. People are repeatedly reminded that the ‘war on terror’ is being waged to defend ‘our’ democratic rights and freedoms. Although parliamentary government still operates to protect property, the concessions that have been won in capitalist democracy are important and of value to working people. Rights to organise politically, express dissension and combine in trade unions, for example, are valuable not only as a defence against capitalism, but from a socialist viewpoint are a platform from which socialist understanding can spread, while the right to vote the means by which socialism will be achieved. At the same time we must recognise that genuine democracy is more than these freedoms and the right to vote. Whilst ‘one person one vote’ is an essential ingredient of democratic society, democracy implies much more than the simple right to choose between representative of political parties every five years. Today exercising our democratic right to vote for a conventional political party does not effect change. It amounts to little more than making a selection between rival representatives of power and class interest whose overarching function is to protect private property and make profits flow. It is representative government where all the representatives support obedience to the capitalist system.
Clearly, ‘democracy’ under capitalism is different from the generally accepted meaning of the word as a situation where ordinary people make the decisions that shape their lives, frequently summarised as being the ‘rule of the people.’ But democracy is not simply about ‘who’ makes decisions or ‘how’ the decisions are to be made. It is an expression of the social relations in society. If democracy means that all have equal opportunity to be heard, then this not only implies political equality but also economic equality. It further presupposes that people have individual freedom. A genuine democracy is therefore one where people are free and equal, actively participating, without leaders, in co-operative discussion to reach common agreement on all matters relating to their collective as well as individual requirements. A genuine democracy complements equality and freedom and is therefore incompatible with capitalism. In capitalist democracy freedom has become a commodity strictly limited to the amount that can be purchased by a given wage or salary. In the workplace our ‘work’ organised under a strict division of labour is often tedious and repetitive; we have become an appendage to a machine or computer in industry organised on a strictly ‘top-down’ chain of authority – more fitting to a tyranny. This is what freedom means under capitalism.
The realisation that genuine democracy cannot exist in capitalist society does not alter the fact that the elbow room already secured by struggle can be turned against our masters. The right to vote, for instance, can become a powerful instrument to end our servitude and to achieve genuine democracy and freedom. Working people with an understanding of socialism can utilise their vote to signify that the overwhelming majority demand change and to bring about social revolution. For while democracy cannot exist outside of socialism, socialism cannot be achieved without the overwhelming majority of working people demanding it. Today, we must view with suspicion attempts to further restrict or limit our legal rights by carefully considering the motives that lie behind such moves. For we need to use these rights to organise and spread socialist understanding so a socialist majority can capture political power, end capitalism and establish socialism. Only then will we have genuine freedom and a genuine democracy.
Talk of a "complete change" in the basis of society is what is rejected by campaigning activists. This wasn't always the case. In the not-so-distant past both the Labour Party (and then the Green Party) did talk in terms of changing society True, this was only as a long-term prospect, but the idea of an alternative society was there. Now this has gone and those of us who are left proposing this are denounced as "unrealistic" for continuing to advocate a "big solution" when supposedly there is none. Let's suppose for a moment that there isn't. What would that mean? It would mean that we'd have to continue with what we've got—capitalism and try to make the best of it, as individuals and as sectional interests. Political parties have already become rival groups of professional politicians with virtually identical policies and certainly identical practices, offering themselves as the best managers of the system. So it would mean that politics would be reduced to pressure group politics as different sections of the population tried to persuade governments—whichever the party in power—to make changes in their particular sectional interest or, in the case of campaigning charities, of the disadvantaged group they have chosen to champion. Political action would consist of lobbying, backed up from time to time by direct action, for reforms in the sectional interest of some group.
This is not an attractive prospect but it is one that is, somewhat surprisingly, championed by a number of people who are severely critical of capitalism. What they like is the idea of "direct action" as such. This, they think, is the way to get improvements; electoral action via local councils and parliament, they say, doesn't get you anywhere. But "direct action" is merely a method, a tactic, not an end in itself and can in fact be employed for different ends. In the present political context it is being advocated as a better way to get reforms than elections. May be it is, but maybe it isn't. One powerful argument as to why it might not be has just been demonstrated: those with the biggest vehicles can reclaim the streets more effectively than those without. In other words, with direct-actionist, pressure group politics, those who can exert the most pressure will tend to come off best, and it is the more powerful who can generally exert the most pressure.
Those who concentrate on trying to obtain reforms within capitalism—whether by direct action or through the electoral process—are on the wrong track. What is needed is precisely what most of them refuse—and in fact have consciously rejected doing—and that is raising the issue of an alternative society as the only framework within which the problems for which they are seeking short-term relief can be solved.
28 min ago
P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }A:link { } By next year, the richest 1% of the world will own more wealth than the rest of the entire population of the planet, according to Oxfam. This is a staggering figure, almost impossible to comprehend. And yet, this fact alone puts into focus a harsh truth: that we live in a fierce, inhuman, capitalist world where a handful of the richest people
28 min 1 sec ago
10. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Borussia Dortmund: 3 million euros per year.
9. Salomon Kalou (Côte d’Ivoire), Hertha Berlin: 3.1 million euros per year.
8. John Mikel Obi (Nigeria), Chelsea: 4.4 million euros per year.
7. Kolo Touré (Côte d’Ivoire), Liverpool FC: 4.9 million euros per year.
6. Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Everton and Sampdoria: 4.9 million euros per year.
5. Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), Chelsea: 5.2 million euros per year.
4. Michael Essien (Ghana), AC Milan: 5.8 million euros per year.
3. Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo), Tottenham: 6.5 million euros per year.
2. Medhi Benatia (Morocco), Bayern Munich: 8 million euros per year.
1. Yaya Touré (Côte d’Ivoire), Manchester City: 13 million euros per year.
3 hours 28 min ago