Cabinet has been asked to immediately establish a medical board to ascertain President Michael Sata’s physical and mental capacity following his alleged failing health coupled with his incoherent public speeches that have fueled speculation and innuendoes.
Civil rights activist Brebner Changala has made the demand in a letter dated June 26, 2014 to the Acting President Wynter Kabimba.
The letter is captioned ‘Establishment of a medical board-Article 36 of the Constitution of Zambia, Cap 1.
Mr Changala has stated that while President Sata appeared to enjoy good health and was of reasonable health appearance in stature and coherent in speech soon after ascending to the presidency, he had noted with grave concern that the appearance of the Head of State in the recent past had raised public concern and speculation as to the physical and mental capacity to discharge the functions of the office of the President.
He has demanded that President Sata must be subjected to a medical board to ascertain the physical and mental capacity after President Sata left the country in the still of the night of Friday 20th June 2014 for Israel, which travel was only announced after the Head of State arrived in Tel Aviv.
Mr Changala has warned that should government fail to perform its statutory function as enshrined in article 36 of the Zambian Constitution, he would, through his lawyers be left with no option but to issue the process of establishing a medical board within seven days of notice to compel government to establish the medical board.
He said he had been compelled to demand for the establishment of a medical board to ascertain the physical and mental capacity of President Sata following a failed attempt to obtain a ministerial statement from government on the exact health status through Parliament after the Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini placed a moratorium on debate on the matter.
In a statistical tabulation of events in which President Sata had appeared frail and incoherent and curtailing presidential function, Mr Changala through his lawyers Makebi Zulu Advocates said it was undeniable that the Head of State was no longer enjoying good health hence his demand for a medical board.
He said on May 1, 2014, at the Labour Day commemoration, President Sata appeared at the Freedom Statute in a frail stature as compared to the time of his inauguration and as seen on his official portrait.
Mr Changala also said President Sata on the Labour Day commemoration sounded incoherent and in uncustomary manner, hurriedly presented what was to be a speech and left the ceremony as soon as he had arrived.
He said his appearance could only be likened to a person laboring under ill health.
Mr Changala said on May 9, 2014, while commissioning Zambia Air Force (ZAF) cadets in Livingstone, President Sata stunned a multitude of people when he alleged that his security personnel had thwarted a possible plot to hijack him by suspected members of the United Party for National Development (UPND) and that his appearance on that particular day was more frail than that of May 1, 2014.
“On 1st May 2014, President Sata appeared in court in a matter wherein he is a plaintiff. The President appeared extremely frail and unkempt compared to the previous public appearance referred to above and his speech and conduct was unusual.
Notable instances are that Mr Sata was almost uncontrollable during the proceedings, ignored the usual courtroom decorum and etiquette, issued expletives in reference to the defendant’s lawyer and state that he thought Richard Sakala (the person he has sued for defamation) had died a long time ago.
“On May 25, 2014, being African Freedom Day, the President appeared in public and unusually cut short the commemoration and did not attend the commissioning of the National Heroes Stadium that he was reported to have been the one to commission,” Mr Changala said.
He explained that during the swearing in of Mr Mumba Kapumpa as ambassador to South Korea and while addressing the Vice-President Li of China at State House, President Sata’s health appeared to have deteriorated and that many Zambians were shocked raising concern about the ill health of the Head of State.
The civil rights activist stated that on 20th June 2014, in the still of the night, President Sata left the country for what the government spokesperson claimed was a working holiday to Israel at the invitation of that country’s President Shimon Perez.
He stated that since President Sata’s travel to Israel, there had been deeper speculation about the failing health of the Head of State adding that contradictory statements from government particularly from Vice-President Guy Scott, acting Information and Broadcasting Minister Mwansa Kapeya and the position of the Times of Israel of 25th June 2014 had heightened speculation about the ill heath of the President. Mr Changala said although earlier this month, President Sata declared himself fit and not sick, the declaration had not settled well with the public as Zambians had observed the Head of State was not in his best of health.
“My understanding is that Article 36 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia obliges cabinet to consider the question of physical or mental capacity of the President when the question arises. It is my considered view that this constitutional provision is intended to serve the greater good of the country and that of His Excellency Mr Michael Chilufya Sata as he will be relieved of the pressure of the presidency much to the benefit of his health and well being,” Mr Changala said.
The letter has been copied to all cabinet ministers, the Attorney General, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Law Association of Zambia.