With President Michael Sata's health deteriorating rapidly to the point of non-performance of his official duties, the first family is urgently debating a plan for succession for someone to take over the mantle of Patriotic Front leadership, a source close to State House tells Zambia Reports.
According to the source, there are senior members of President Sata's family from Mpika who harbour superstitious theories about his health, including the belief that his status has worsened for having gone against his Bemba ancestors by fighting against the chosen traditional leader Chief Chitimukulu, as well as his dispute with Henry Sosala. Other family members discard these superstitions, but say these rumours create pressure with regard to who is chosen as successor, the source says.
Following a number of family meetings in Nkwazi House, they have settled on either Mulenga Sata or Christine Kaseba taking over from President Sata, the source says. Once this decision is settled, the source says that President Sata is ready to step aside.
The decision to select a family member as successor arises out of a growing mistrust of other PF members, including the erstwhile successor, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba. The source says that the president's primary concern is selecting a successor that he can trust to cover his hospital bills and take care of other family members.
Other Patriotic Front factions are moving to nominate different successors, including Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba as well as Given Lubinda, among others.
"It's a moment of significant confusion both inside State House and among the PF leadership," the source says. "At this
time, nobody seems to know what the right thing to do is."
The source indicated that Zambia's security services have been working hard to convince other PF members not to take advantage and create further instability.
"Security service chiefs have meet with all these prospective candidates and have told them not to bring any confusion whatsoever or else they would be arrested for plotting a coup," the source says. "Kabimba in particular has been strongly warned by the military to relax and not campaign as openly as he had previously been doing, because the campaigning was sending strong signals to the public that the President is too ill for office."
According to the constitution, if President Sata is incapacitated, an Acting President would be appointed in the interim to arrange a presidential by-election.