Thursday, May 30, 2024

Politics of succession in Africa: Living in Denial and Un-preparedness


President Sata arrives for a Cabinet meeting  at State House on July 14,2014 -Picture by THOMAS NSAMA
President Sata arrives for a Cabinet meeting at State House on July 14,2014 -Picture by THOMAS NSAMA

Hjoe Moono

Yesterday the nation read yet another homily of the Post in which the editor is purported to have argued, among many, that if anything happens to Michael [HE. President Michael Sata], “they”, will be held responsible and be in serious trouble. Most readers are still in shock as who these “they” that “now have the power” are. We are also in shock as what this may “happen” to Michael which may put “they” in serious trouble really is. It seems with the departure of Wynter Kabimba there has been a power shift from “them” to “they’, effectively implying that the head of state is perhaps not in charge.

It is now very clear that there are indeed, power struggles in the PF, or perhaps not anymore with the departure of the purported “cartel” figurehead. The long suppressed ambitions of various factions are now laid bare, and the battlefield for succession being prepared. Suddenly Chishimba Kambwili has taken off his busy schedule of fighting football referees when his favourite team loses to calling the Post names he would never have dared a few weeks ago—his confidence in politics is back with the departure of Kabimba. We also hear others that resigned on purported moral grounds are now willing to re-join PF now that Wynter is gone. Was Wynter really that strong that all these perceive heavy weights couldn’t match up to him? Perhaps that explains why his downgrade has hard hit his partners in the cartel.

We live in uncertain times indeed, but we have lessons to learn from and refer to from around the continent. For example, in late 2008, a Guinean newspaper published a photo of a frail and ailing President Lansana Conté, who appeared to be struggling to stand up. The photo stoked rumours of the president’s ill health. Its publication angered the country’s political elite, who hurriedly ordered the editor’s arrest. By the next day, on the instructions of security operatives, the publication’s front page carried an even bigger photo of Mr. Conté — this time smiling broadly and looking spirited. But he died just a week later, justifying the newspaper’s initial resolve to let Guineans know that his health was failing. We saw something similar in Zambia where the president was shown on TV shortly before his medical tour of Israel.

[pullquote]Most readers are still in shock as who these “they” that “now have the power” are. We are also in shock as what this may “happen” to Michael which may put “they” in serious trouble really is.[/pullquote]

Since them, edited still pictures of him are the ones we see, and if on national television, the president’s voice is muted. And for months, the Post carried a deceit campaign that all is well with the president. Facebook too was being used by the president’s handlers to portray him as fit and healthy, in some cases to the extent of using old pictures of him to deceive the public. Clearly this is living in denial, but our question is for how long will this go on? In Guinea, the head of the National Assembly, Aboubacar Somparé, later explained that leaders hid the president’s “physical suffering in order to give happiness to Guinea.” This awkward reason was seemingly seen as desired to avoid succession squabbles in the ruling government and potential violence in the country. However, a few hours after the president’s death was officially announced, the army staged a coup. Clearly, living in denial threw the West African nation into political chaos that would have easily avoided had the political leaders faced the reality that was before them head on.

If what we are reading from the factions that have lost favour is indeed true in Zambian politics, this will get dirtier as these factions will use resources in throwing mud at their rivals, because the man who is expected to be in charge is showing signs of fatigue and has purportedly lost control. The debate of his purported inability to govern will get heated day by day. However, it need not be this way, not now, for Zambians have well known all this while yet the system has deliberately hid him, perhaps to “make them happy”. But clearly succession problems are there, and one would only hope that the PF is working out a good plan in-house. Honesty, Stability, expectedness and continuousness in leadership are important elements of good governance and these can be assured by a well-planned and -managed succession strategy. The events of the past weeks, and the ones ahead of us seem to be those of surprises, which, unfortunately, have potential to cause national panic. This need not be the case.

We expect that a succession strategy that is honest and transparent and ensures continuity in good governance need to be strictly constitutional. Infighting within the ruling party has potential to create factions that would unconstitutionally wish to usurp leadership. This is seen as being the case as purported in the Post of yesterday. But as the Post sanely argued, I doubt the Zambian people would allow such to happen, if at all there is anything of the sort in the making.

We are clearly constrained in commenting on the succession matter in the PF, if at all there is actually any seeing that the president is arguably “Fit and Working”. But reading between the lines, the recent events and comments from those who had the privilege of being close to the power circles call for genuine concern. We can only hope that Mr. Sata, in whose political dream we all live now, has it all laid out to ensure his political legacy, if any, continues. Mr. Sata’s political ambition and dream has made many people’s dream come true, and many others too have now pursued their dreams and are living the life of their dreams through his ambition. We hope that the strong leader he is, who, even in silence can pull off perhaps one of the greatest surprises in Zambian politics by doing a donchi kubeba on Wynter, we hope he can surprise Zambians by a consistent laid out governance plan and settle the uncertainties that are being created and fueled by those who have lost favour with him.


  1. I think M’membe has lost it and gone nuclear and indeed he has lost control over the King Cobra and the consequences, to quote Sata’s famous phrase, are too ghastly to contemplate. The things he is throwing at PF now is the same stuff people have been throwing at PF when Kabimba was at the helm. isn’t there somebody at the Post to say — Boss we are overdoing this and people will not take us seriously, let us not make it too personal–.

    Looks like the guy has taken Kabimba’s dismisal as his own. And today is the fifth day in ROW and his editorial is still on Kabimba. Can’t this man take a break??

    Why can’t Kabimba defend himself and why does M’membe have to do it for him. Is M’membe the biggest Loser in all this?

    • Am sure paying back K14 billion kwacha on a business that went bunkrupt is indeed an unsettling affair and can make one go blind and lose his sense of civility and reasoning. I understand and I have to symphathise with my friend M’embe

    • M’membe has just become a chief mourner. I told pipo years back that don’t trust the Post, now it is clear why the Post seemed to have supported PF, its not actually PF that they supported, its their discarded Wynter they supported..So pips blind loyalty to the post should be reviewed..Wake up!!!!!

    • Truth id the little midget Kabimba cannot fight his battles, it was always Sata or M’membe doing it for him. “The Mwembeshi Reject”-Wynter has always been a political lightweight with no constituency. What Kabimba knows best is being a dull lawyer. People will never forget his behavior when summoned by the ACC …..

  2. We have seen it before in Rwanda. The media played a bad role. And the Post is fomenting trouble and arousing negative emotions through its language of “corrupt and tribal” group. They should name the group and the tribe they are referring to.

  3. allow me to make mention that Zambia will never allow any politician to impose him or herself on the people of Zambia because we’ll always vote as our democratic right the will never be succession straggle(agogo)knows believe dat

  4. As a matter of principal, I ceased perusing Post Newspaper soon the paper became the mouth piece of PF government. It saves me heartache to read about disgraced dismissed Kabimba in Mmembe’s paper whose morals Zambians continue to question his dealings with Sata and disgraced Kabimba.

  5. Seems reports are true that Fred was a prominent cog in the “cartel”. Kabimba’s untimely departure has really devastated M’membe and his funereal editorials is proof of that. What the editorials have exposed so far is Fred’s incredible hypocrisy.

  6. Zambians Should Boycott The Post News Paper
    Any analytical Zambian who has been consistently reading the post newspaper in the past 4 months affirmatively hold the position that the post Newspaper has deliberately been trying to feed the Zambian public news biased in favor of Winter Kabimba. It is during this period that it became unfortunately clear to some of us that the Post Newspaper has seriously compromised and diminished their moral relevance to the Zambian public discourse.For the first time in Zambia, I saw a newspaper insult the Zambian people and suppose us to be fools by trying to peddle misinformation using hired and ignorant priests with the accusations that Finance Minister Chikwanda is double dealing and trying to disadvantage Zambians over lawful VAT refunds.

    What is…

  7. To all pf cadres who insulted and called the Zwd all kinds of names,for the past 5 days the once pf media ,post has summarized all what Zambians have been saying as regards to sata and govt corruption.the hands are now open for all to see.lets brave ourselves for more secrets and media fight now that the buffalo is wounded.’they,them,tribalist,corruption,’are new words being repeated by mmembe of late.

    • The ‘cartel’ has been injured and normally, the kicking of a dying horse are similar to Fred’s. Until Fred tells me what his interests are in Kabimba, then I will maintain my stance that he is a dying horse who has something to hide.

  8. Ivory coast had a similar situation in 1990 when their president was ailing,their constitution states that when the president is dead the speaker assumes the presidential duties but after the burial of their president,prime minister ouwatara misinterpreted the law and insisted that he be in charge ,this lead to in party wranglers,then couple by general Robert Guiye and the conflicts lasted for years till Bouble was Zambians don’t take this as a pf matter but a national crisis.

  9. Be careful with the sleeping Cobra. This Ngoshe Lupola should not be trusted together with the entire Panga Family. Anyway I have been told that he is on his way to Chitulika komboni, Mpika mukuyubula.

  10. the gang has lost control of there source of power and influence. kabimba, m’embe, amos malupenga, nchito and bernard chiwala are now lossing what they thot was the key to there corrupt practises

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