It has been another day of drama today in the chaotic Patriotic Front (PF. New PF president Edgar Lungu held a press briefing where he fired Bridget Atanga, as expected, and appointed Davies Chama the new SG. It is an interesting move. Perhaps Mulenga Sata was sidelined for this role because his loyalty is yet unproven. He also now has the adoption certificate.
As Lungu was announcing the changes a parallel “illegal” PF conference hurriedly cobbled together from Kabwe residents and cadres from the streets were led by Guy Scott. We say “illegal” because it turns out the Lungu camp had already obtained an injunction against the purported conference. The injunction was served on Scott and his friends.
The media recognised the injunction with MuviTV and ZNBC quickly cancelling the live coverage of the conference [who paid for this?] after seeing the court order. Scott on the other hand pleaded shocking ignorance. But he still carried on despite the Court order. Perhaps being “acting President” means he has a different sort of immunity. Only Zambians can answer that question for themselves.
It seems Scott does not understand what we call the "broken windows" theory. If the "acting President" behaves like a hooligan with no regard for the law, what do we say to criminals on our streets? Scott's behaviour sends the wrong message and undermines rule of law. Perhaps there's another definition of rule of law Scott uses. What is more illegal and deserving of impeachment than rejecting a Court order?No wonder we have corrupt judges because people like Scott who swear them in only recognise the law of the jungle.
Further shocks followed from the Scott camp. Given Lubinda, who lost his job under Sata because of Scott and the Cartel briefing against him, has cut a lonely figure in Scott's company. He now appeared to have remembered his troubles and headed back to Lusaka to meet Lungu and the press.
Lubinda announced that Scott was presiding over a “highly questionable practice”. In partiicular, there is evidence that Scott’s “delegates did not qualify and were not even PF party members”. Lubinda now is stranded and hoping to go back to his friends in the Lungu camp. Or is he headed back to UPND? Only time will tell! To be fair to Lubinda he also did question Lungu's election. But clearly the reversal was calculated to embarrass Scott.
Lubinda was followed quickly by Simuusa. At the moment it is not clear what has happened to GBM. The rumour was that he had danced with the Cartel who he spent the last three years fighting. But now he could not raise the number of supporters demanded by the Cartel to take part in their "illegal" conference. An embarrassing accusation from his new friends. Only GBM knows the real truth.
There is no such ambiguity with Chishimba Kambwili. A man now fighting for his political life, he quickly discovered in the morning that the PF ship had sailed captained by Lungu. He quickly wrote to Scott a letter stating that he was pulling out because Scott’s new conference "did not meet the constitution requirements of the party".
Simuusa, Kambwili and Lubinda all pointed to the fact that they did not want PF to split. This perhaps the first acknowledgement by anti-Lungu forces that the horse has indeed bolted and that Lungu is now the candidate given that he has the adoption certificate. Nothing can stop him contesting now. Any move in the opposite direction would only split PF. For Lungu it's campaign time.
There is another sub plot to all this. Former First Lady Christine Kaseba seems to have pulled out prematurely. Mulenga Sata, the son of Margaret Sata [the senior wife of President Sata - notice that she never gave up her surname so we can legitimately infer that she never divorced and this accords with other information circulating], appears to have thrown his weight fully behind Lungu.
So Scott has been left with Miles Sampa and the man who says Scott is useless, Bob Sichinga (aka Bashi Nono). There is also a certain former captain whose name escapes us. The word is that Scott is pressing ahead with Miles Sampa as the candidate. Sampa had withdrawn from the race two days ago but experienced a second financial awakening.
What of hapless Scott? We are witnessing a sad end to his political life. He has tried to be like Sata but without the gravitas and respect. Today has been another day in which Scott has been all over the place. He is virtually booted from the party. He is now left with Sampa. A man who was moved from Ministry of Finance for gross incompetence and insubordination. We also said Sampa does not understand economics. But then again, who in PF does?
The only thing left for Scott now is to frustrate Lungu and ensure that PF loses the election. To Scott he would much rather have Lungu lose to HH or NMS than allow him to govern. Lungu said today that Scott hates him. In truth what Scott hates is not Lungu but the alleged deeds that Scott and Sampa seems to have done and are worried may come to roost if Lungu wins. Zambians, especially economists, cannot afford to be deluded that there's something more than self interest here. It is perhaps comes as no surprise that the self declared master of the "politics of the belly" Daniel Munkombwe has been overseeing Scott's conference.
And what of PF? PF under Lungu with the support of all provinces and 70 plus MPs should be good competitors. He has the adoption certificate and has started campaigning. His candidacy is unstoppable. Sampa may stand as an independent without a certificate of adoption. But where will he go? He has zero base even in Matero.
Lungu is not assured of the presidency by any means. HH is now learning what he needs to win : a credible plan of governing with a miniority and a clear message. We are happy to see more detail from HH. Though scrutiny of all candidate is coming. In general, HH stands a good chance of climbing the mountain if he continues on the current path.
As for PF president Edgar Lungu Zambia needs him now more than ever. He needs to help pass the Budget. He is now the defacto president. 70% of ministers now answer to his tune. He has 70+ MPs. He is calling the shots now. In short Zambia must now demand Lungu shows leadership. He must do more than run campaigns. That includes working with the ceremonial Scott on general issues of national concern. It is called leadership.
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2014