Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

28 May 2014

Zambia: Ministers Hold Emergency Meeting Over President Sata's Illness

Cabinet ministers and some top Patriotic Front officials yesterday held an emergency meeting to discuss the deteriorating health of President Michael Sata who was rumoured heading to the United Kingdom for treatment.

This followed the failure by his medical staff to successfully evacuate him after all arrangements were made to do so on Sunday when he could barely stand the streneous duties of his office and was reported to have collapsed.

Party Secretary General Wynter Kabimba cancelled all scheduled appointments to attend to the emergency while other ministers with similar commitments also stayed away.

Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili was due to officiate at the burial of the late Nkana coach Masauso Mwale but delegated to his deputy Christopher Mulenga because he had to attend the emergency meeting.

President Sata's confidant Willie Nsanda also cancelled scheduled meetings with party officials as he need to attend to the emergency. There are suggestions within the inner Patriotic Front circles that a Vice-President who could act in the absence of President Sata be appointed.

Officials are trying to pursue President Sata, who State House indicate is critically ill the more reason even when he was due to be evacuated the plan failed because of his state, to drop Vice-President Guy Scott.

PF officials fear the party will be in limbo if President Sata opts not to continue in office on medical grounds or if the worst were to happen that Vice-President Scott is constitutionally barred to contest as President.

The officials are trying to convince President Sata to make sure that there will be no vacuum. Although Kabimba has already anointed himself as successor of the ruling party and has the heavy backing of Fred M'membe, Mutembo Nchito and Rajan Mahtani, most people inside the party believe he can't win an election.

PF officials say there was no way they would miss any meeting called by State House because they don't want Kabimba to rubber stamp himself as the successor.

Kambwili is among the most vocal including Jean Kapata in opposing Kabimba to take over the party presidency. Kabimba's only advocate inside Cabinet and the Central Committee is Guy Scott.

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