TOMORROW Zambia puts to rest President Michael Sata, in a ceremony that will mark the start of one of the most politically charged and tumultuous episodes of our national life.
Although we are human, we believe that if great transparency had been exhibited from the very beginning, this crisis would have been averted, because apart from the political implications, the exercise will consume a colossal amount of money.
The Government still has to explain how the entire illness and subsequent demise of the President has been handled.
It will be recalled that an application by civil rights activist Brebner Changala to subject President Sata to a medical board was widely rebuffed. Pictures of the President working at State House were produced to show that any anxiety about the President’S health was misplaced.
In court, Lusaka High Court Judge Isaac Chali actually insulted us by stating: “The applicant exhibited several extracts from the Daily Nation Newspaper as well as a few from the Post Newspaper concerning the alleged discussions by members of the public about the President’s state of health. However I found the extracts from the Post Newspaper to have been official Government pronouncements about the President’s health without speculation, compared to the Daily Nation newspaper whose reports appeared to me to be unguarded to the point of being reckless scandal-mongering.”
Judge Chali also called petitioner Changala, as a “kind of busybody Lord Diplock spoken of in the IRS case I have cited. One who appears to have a misguided or trivial complaint of administrative error. Indeed I find his application to be frivolous, vexatious and hopeless to the extent of not requiring further inquiry at a substantive inquiry.”
In other words Mr. Changala’s application was not worthy of consideration because it was frivolous.
Barely two months later the people of Zambia are putting to rest the man who was supposed to be in extremely good health.
Now we know it was a lie. The question is, in whose interest was the lie peddled? This we understand is the reason why Brebner Changala is now calling for a commission of inquiry to determine the circumstances surrounding the health and subsequent demise of the President.
From the very beginning our own position was that the President was unwell and deserved a rest. We said the President was fully entitled to sick leave. This position was not appreciated by many detractors who are now in the forefront championing the cause of the succession debate.
Again our position on succession has been very clear. President Michael Sata’s decision to leave Minister of Defence and Justice Edgar Lungu as acting President and General Secretary of the ruling Patriotic Front was testimony of his confidence and therefore anointing.
It is our hope that for national unity and indeed for the purpose of ensuring peace within the Patriotic Front, that the President’s decision and wish in anointing Edgar will be respected.
Whatever happens within the PF will have very wide bearing on the nation. If the ruling party fails to show a unity of purpose and disintegrates, the effects will reverberate across the country, hence our hope and appeal that reason, peace and unity prevail in all parties to make the transition incident-free.