Monday, 9 March 2015

Watching African Democracy in Action

To lose one president may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.  To lose three might turn thoughts to witchcraft.

Edgar Lungu, the newly 'elected' Zambian president is being exported for medical treatment unavailable in his own country, having collapsed at a Women's Day march past.  Frankly a legion of Angels probably would collapse during a Wimmin's Day march past: but he'd been standing there for only an hour before the legs gave way.  Perhaps he's a wimp needing the training Elizabeth II can call upon; even in advanced age there's no collapsing on parade from her. The instant  way in which Zambians are wishing him well and offering their sympathy to his relatives and affines (there's something about African politics that makes for an onset of anthropological accuracy) is courteous, patriotic even, but displays faint irritation, doubtless brought on by a considerable history in Zambian politics of presidents dying in office.

Those following the goings-on in Zambia since President Sata died in office last year (he too had been exported, in his case first to the US and then to London for medical treatment unavailable in his own country) will be aware that the vice-President is constitutionally expected to take over when the President can't manage the job.  But the vice President is at the Wimmin's Day knees-up in New York.   Mrs Lungu, First Lady of Zambia,  cancelled her flight to the same freebie at the last minute, after the incident at the march past; she cannot fulfil her speaking engagements at the UN.  The question is will Inonge Wina be persuaded to take Ms Lungu's place in New York or insist on rushing back to Lusaka to take up her constitutional role as acting president while Edgar is indisposed and out of the country?    The Zambian constitution is in the throes of reform, not least in ending the requirement for an election within 90 days of a new president for the residue of the fixed term of office of the deceased.  What a pity there has been so little sense of urgency, particularly with the swathe being cut through sitting presidents. And what a pity the Zambians couldn't leave Guy Scott to  act as president until the scheduled presidential elections in 2016.

Apart from the collapse in copper prices, the outburst of borrowing since Lungu got his hands on the presidency, the fall in the Zambian currency,  the dam could burst.  Meanwhile Zambian Watchdog offers a fine, blow by blow account of every-day politics in southern Africa.


Zambian vice-president Inonge Wina cuts short  her New York shindig to get back to Zambia.  But will the Instruments of Power have been handed to someone else before she gets there?


She didn't make it back soon enough:
President of Zambia Edgar Chagwa Lungu has with immediate effect appointed Hon. Ngosa Simbyakula to act as President during his absence; Hon. Simbyakula will also act as Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice.   That sounds like everything is covered, particularly as the Director of Public Prosecutions has also just been suspended with immediate effect and is now the subject of a tribunal enquiry under various sections of the Zambian constitution.

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