In recent weeks there have been a number of articles published in the Zambian media (read here and here) about former freedom fighters bemoaning the government’s inattention to their plight. According to the reports many have died indigent and forgotten, and those still living want recognition and financial support. Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen stories such as this popping up and I’m not entirely sure what the response has been in the past especially on the financial support piece.
We have the obligatory celebrations on
Africa Freedom Day (May 25) and Independence Day (October 24) and a handful of these freedom fighters have their names in text books and other reading materials. Do they have a legitimate case? What more needs to be done?
I remember a while back the current vice-president, George Kunda, stated that new claims for assistance or compensation would not be considered because they should have been made soon after the attainment of independence. That would include anyone maimed or injured during the uprisings or in prison. This quite obviously provoked a sharp response from various quarters but I really don’t think the government’s stance shifted because to be truthful, who will make them?
In a more just world we would support and create a system that includes subsidised access to quality medical care for these people to whom we owe so much. But with our reality that doesn’t exist and likely won’t for the foreseeable future.
Will we some day look back in shame or will we feel justified for our inaction because it saved us money?