Voice of America (Washington, DC)

27 August 2014

Zambia: President Sata to Open Parliament

Zambia's President Michael Sata plans to address the nation next month as he officially open parliament, a move intended to contradict reports that his health has led to a power struggle within the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party.

Sata was last seen in public on June 19 when he met visiting Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.

Some opposition and civil society groups have demanded the government come clean on the president's health, saying that Sata's recent "working vacation" trip to Israel was to seek medical attention. They also contend that the fact that Vice President Guy Scott represented Sata at the recent U.S.-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. is proof of the president's poor health.

In an interview with VOA, Vice President Scott, who is Zambia's first Caucasian vice president, dismissed the suggestion that Sata is ill.

"For the three years that we've been in power, I have attended these kinds of ad hoc arrangements. I have been to all kinds of countries that I never thought I would see on behalf of the president," said Scott. "I tend to represent him at Non-Aligned Movement [meeting] and so forth. The U.N. and the African Union he does it himself and there is no change."

"Just because you happen to see Africa's only white vice president turn up in Washington when you might be expecting a president, for Zambia, that's not unusual," he said.

Scott called on Zambia journalists to shun speculation and focus on getting the facts to the people. He says Sata is in good health.

"He will be addressing the nation soon. He is opening parliament next month in September and then he will be celebrating 50th anniversary of our independence on October 24th. So, I think people should take it easy and not listen to rumors," said Scott.

Scott believes speculation about the president's alleged poor health is politically motivated to undermine the government's popularity as well as that of the PF party.

"The more intelligent people are realizing that's not true and we are working on putting our party back in commanding position," said Scott.

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