Zambia presidential race hots up

2014-11-17 18:55
Guy Scott (File, AFP)

Guy Scott (File, AFP)

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Cape Town - The presidential succession battle in Zambia is hotting up, with units of the army apparently put on alert last week to “move onto State House if necessary”.  The instruction came from one of the leading contenders for the top job, defence and justice minister Edgar Lungu.

Lungu, who is also secretary-general of the governing Patriotic Front (PF) was earlier this month removed from his party post by acting president Guy Scott - and then hurriedly reinstated after street protests in Lusaka.  Scott, who is barred from the presidency because his parents were not born in Zambia, is widely regarded as heading one of the stronger PF factions in the party, and Lungu the other.

As exclusively reported by News24 this month, on his death bed in London, President Michael Chilufya Sata nominated former cabinet minister Given Lubinda as his preferred successor.  And, on Friday last week with rumours of further protests and the possibility of military intervention, Lubinda wrote a three-page letter to both Scott and Lungu calling for an end to their hostilities and for unity of the party.

His letter also warns of dire consequences, not only for the PF, but also for the economy if the PF cannot halt the infighting.  News of the letter leaked today and some parliamentarians see it as an attempt by Lubinda to weaken the two major factions in a party that seems seriously fragmented.

And although Lubinda’s letter calls for “a free, fair, transparent and constitutional process for nominating the party presidential candidate”, he also makes clear his ambitions.  He notes: “I have every intention to put my name forward.”

Hats already in what promises to be a crowded ring already include former justice minister Wynter Kabimba and finance minister Alexander Chikwanda, along with Sata’s widow, Christine Kaseba, and her stepson, Mulenga Sata who is the mayor of Lusaka, a post his father once held. 

Read more on:    edgar lungu  |  guy scott  |  zambia  |  southern africa

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