Messy struggle for Zambian presidency under way

2014-10-29 16:32
Michael Sata (File: AP)

Michael Sata (File: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lusaka - The battle for Zambia's top job was already under way before long-ailing president Michael Sata died on Tuesday, but it looks set to become messier and more intense in his wake.

When Sata left the country for medical attention in Britain last week, he named Defence and Justice Minister Edgar Lungu as acting president.

Lungu, who is also secretary general of the ruling Patriotic Front, is among the favourites to take over this country of 15 million people, a major copper producer.

He leads one of two main camps which had formed this year within the PF leadership as it became clear that Sata was in poor health - although this was regularly denied by the government.

Lungu is likely to enjoy the backing of a majority Bemba-speaking group as the presidential candidate, despite that not being his ethnic language.

Zambia’s constitution

But a candidate could yet emerge from within that group, which includes Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, former defence minister Geoffrey Mwamba and Sata's son Mulenga, who is Lusaka mayor and PF chairperson for Lusaka province.

Chikwanda, a veteran finance minister, would at times be given presidential powers when Sata left the country.

But Lungu may have to wait to take his seat at the table.

Under Zambia's constitution his party rival, vice-president Guy Scott, should be acting president until elections are held in 90 days.

Scott, 70, could take up the interim role, but is likely to be ruled out of running for office himself, because although he was born in Zambia his Scottish parents were not.

Even if a new constitution under consideration makes Scott eligible, his chances of being elected president of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) are seen as remote.

He would be Africa's first white president since FW de Klerk led apartheid South Africa.

Rupiah Banda

But Scott has been linked to Wynter Kabimba, who until end of August was the justice minister, and former tourism minister Sylvia Masebo.

Before his unceremonious dismissal, Kabimba, in particular, was seen as close to, and the heir-apparent to, Sata.

Outside the ruling party, former president Rupiah Banda, who is facing graft charges, has hinted at a possible return to active politics.

"I am legally eligible to stand," he told AFP early this month, citing calls from his supporters to return to the political fray.

Banda lost to the PF in the 2011 elections but he could pose a formidable challenge to the ruling party.

Sata was catapulted to the presidency in 2011 amid public anger at corruption and frustration among those yet to benefit from a copper mining boom.

But he leaves behind a country buckling under the weight of unemployment that remains around 60%.

Read more on:    guy scott  |  michael sata  |  rupiah banda  |  zambia  |  southern africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.