Saturday, August 02, 2008

Zambia : Political Crisis

President Levy Mwanawasa suffered a head stroke on 29 June whilst attending the African Union Conference in Egypt. It was announced by the South African president Thabo Mbeki that Mwanawasa was dead (30 June). The following day Mbeki apologised to the Zambian High Commission to revoke the previous statement. But all the same the damage was done—there was an outcry among Zambian society that Mwanawasa was dead and the government was only hiding the real fact.

It is sad to note that Mwanawasa is hospitalised in a military hospital in Paris and his relatives and friends are refused permission to visit him. It is a fact that Mwanawasa is seriously sick and this has created a political crisis within the ruling MMD. Many prominent Zambians are waiting to know about what the ruling MMD has in store for the Zambian people in case Mwanawasa becomes physically incapacitated. Why is the MMD so discreet about Mwanawasa’s sickness?

The problem with African politics consists in the so-called political misconceptions people may have about leaders. Many ordinary people in Zambia believe that Mwanawasa is a charismatic political leader—just like his predecessors Chuluba and Kaunda. There is deep reverence mixed with fear concerning the sickness of President Mwanawasa. There is a feeling among many ignorant Zambians that there isn’t anyone within the MMD who can replace him.

Recent revelations by local government deputy minister Teta Mashimbo that there is a successor crisis within the ruling MMD has caused consternation across the entire political fraternity. Mashimbo gave a political speech in which he alleged that the senior officials were divided concerning the possible successor Mwa Nawasa. More or less his pronouncements have been strongly repudiated from within the MMD. There is a prayer mania and calls for reconciliation ever since Mwanawasa became sick.

However, the unrepentant PF president Michael Sata has come out in the light and told the MMD government to put matters straight. Basking in the honeymoon of his political reconciliation with President Mwanawasa—Sata has advised the MMD to convene a medical board that will tell the nation the facts about Mwanawasa’s medical proceedings. Sata said there is a clause within the Zambian constitution which allows the creation of a medical board whenever the president becomes physically incapacitated. There are calls for political reconciliation during the sickness of Mwanawasa and it is believed that to start talking about a successor is an act of witchcraft. It is an act of witchcraft in the sense that the MMD without Mwanawasa at the helm is doomed to destruction.

We in the WSM do not enter into political reconciliation nor participate in national prayers—we have remained convinced that capitalism will for ever create social, economic and political problems for the workers in every part of the world and we advocate the creation of a socialist and co-operative world in which poverty and fear will give way to plenty and happiness.

Kephas Mulenga

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