PF Most Disorganised Party – Simutanyi
In an interview with Agence-France Press (AFP), political analyst Neo Simutanyi comments on the power struggle taking place within the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) government as President Michael Sata’s health status becomes a matter of increasing concern.
“There is a power struggle because those that are close to him know that he is not strong enough to live much longer, and they have advanced their preparations for elections,” Simutanyi told AFP.
Two main camps have formed within the Patriotic Front leadership in preparation for the succession, Simutanyi said.
One group of mainly Bemba-speaking officials includes Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, former defence minister Geoffrey Mwamba and Sata’s son Mulenga, who is Lusaka mayor and PF chairperson for Lusaka province.
Chikwanda, a veteran finance minister, is given presidential powers when Sata leaves the country because of Scott’s ineligibility for the post.
The second group comprises Scott, Justice Minister and PF secretary-general Wynter Kabimba, former tourism minister Sylvia Masebo and others. Kabimba, in particular, is seen as close to Sata.
“The PF is the most undisciplined party and very soon we will see these two camps fighting each other badly because they know the state in which the president is,” Simutanyi said.
Finance Minister Chikwanda on Tuesday told state run radio that “a cartel” wanted to usurp power.
His remarks appeared to be aimed at The Post newspaper which is seen as offering positive coverage to his perceived rival Kabimba.
“The Bemba group feels they are losing the fight,” Simutanyi said. “They might lose because Kabimba as party secretary general can determine the list of delegates to the convention at which the party would endorse his candidature.”
Zambian authorities have in the past cracked down on political opponents and journalists who have reported on the president’s long-suspected illness and frequent “working trips” abroad, apparently for medical treatment.