By Brigadier-General Miyanda
It is said that democracy is the Government of the People, for the people and by the People. The characteristic of such a government is that it is predictable as those in power respect and observe the Rule of Law, especially the Constitution. I regret that the current regime does not meet this description of democracy but should instead be called a “Government of Lies, for Liars and by Liars” until it confesses and tells Zambians the truth about the health of our President.
Although the Government has now indirectly admitted what we already know, it devoid of details and hence the matter must not be allowed to rest until the truth, the whole truth, has been unveiled. There are very serious implications in having in office a President who is completely incapacitated but alleged to be working.
Is it normal for a healthy person to undergo a 14-days medical check up? Further what medical check up must a healthy public servant undertake at public expense outside the country? Surely in Zambia the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) is capable of undertaking this routine task; in fact even our private hospitals and clinics are equal to this task.
The point of this statement is to demand of our Government full disclosure about our President’s health. The Cabinet is either hiding the truth or is completely incompetent to carry out its constitutional obligations. As public servants Cabinet Ministers are answerable and accountable to the employers, the people themselves. The Cabinet, led by Vice President Guy Scott, stand charged of lying, abuse of office, negligence of duty, even a possible conspiracy to subvert or disregard the Republican Constitution.
It is a lie by the Vice President and other ministers to have been persistently declaring that the President is well and performing his duties. It is also more revealing for Dr Scott to state that he is not President Sata’s wife to know whether he is suffering from anything. By these words Dr Scott has denied President Sata more than three times! Unfortunately Dr Scott is President Sata’s “political wife”. The Cabinet Handbook describes the VP as the President’s “Principal Assistant”. In the National Assembly he is the Leader of Government Business, essentially making him the President in the House when the President is not attending. The way out is for him is to file for a divorce and get out of this marriage of convenience. But before we grant him the divorce he and his Cabinet have a lot of questions to answer now or in the immediate future.
If the President has been sick and has been travelling all over on medical grounds at public expense, we need a full disclosure of the medical itinerary and expenses involved as well as the list of accompanying personnel, government or otherwise. The VP, the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, must surely have this information at his fingertips!
I have had a second look at Article 36 as read with other provisions and I have strong reasons to revise my position and contend that the article should be deemed mandatory. This Article states as follows “36(1) if it is resolved by the majority of all the members of the Cabinet that the question of the physical or mental capacity of the President to discharge the functions of his office ought to be investigated, and they so inform the Chief Justice, then the Chief Justice shall appoint a board consisting of not less than three persons selected from among persons who are qualified as medical practitioners under the law of Zambia or under the law of any other country in the Commonwealth, and the board shall inquire into the matter and report to the Chief Justice on whether or not the President is, by reason of any infirmity of body or mind, incapable of discharging the functions of his office”. I contend that the foregoing provision impliedly suggests that the Constitution bars any person who is not of sound physical or mental capacity from continuing to perform duties as President until this state is resolved.
I humbly submit that by beginning the Article with the words “IF IT IS resolved by a majority of all members of the Cabinet…” the framers of the Constitution intended for the Cabinet to view seriously the health of the President who is Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. The implication is that the office holder must at all times be physically fit and of sound mind to be able to personally discharge his duties and be able to coherently give directions to all government institutions as well as to be able to represent the country intelligently in foreign undertakings. You could have a president of unsound mind declaring war without realising what he is up to. Additionally the danger of other persons taking advantage of the office holder’s incapacity is ever present in this period of uncertainty. Cabinet should have carried out its duty without fear or favour, unless those in Cabinet are up to some mischief or are part of a conspiracy. It would be ridiculous to have a provision requiring the verification of the President’s state of health to be left at the discretion of those with narrow loyalties to their benefactor.
I thus assert that the Zambian Cabinet has reneged on one of their most important duties, that is the observance, application, protection and defence of the Constitution. The President has been incapacitated for a very long time, and the Cabinet has been aware of this. Zambians must now demand that Cabinet gives a full account of his condition. The account must state, inter alia, the President’s state of health, full disclosure of his itinerary to various parts of the world including India, South Africa, Israel, UK and USA, the list of those in the President’s entourage (government or otherwise), a bill of costs of each trip, and also the help or attention given by our own UTH.
Let us continue to pray for our President, his family as well as for the peace of our young nation, but let us not use the Jubilee season to refuse to observe the Constitution.
[22ND OCTOBER 2014]
Post Script: I commend the Malawi Government for a transparent investigation that laid to rest public speculation about the health of the late Malawian President Mbingu wa Mutharika (http://www.nyasatimes.com/