An acrimonious power transition process has reportedly started within the ruling PF government that might soon see president Michael Sata appointing his uncle Alexander Chikwanda as republican vice-president.
Sources say if all goes as already planned and agreed, the biggest losers will be the cartel of vice-president Guy Scott, Fred Mmembe, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba, Gender Minister Inonge Wina, Silvia Masebo, DPP Mutembo Nchito, the young man George Chellah and others.
Of late, this cartel has gone flat out to discredit Chikwanda after several leakages of highly classified government documents from Chellah and Kabimba to Post newspaper editor Fred Mmembe.
Highly placed insiders say, as days for the constitutional presidential requirement of opening parliament draw near, president Sata will most likely step-down and lead a quite life to take care of his failing health.
“In fact, these changes to government might come as soon as this week. Already Chikwanda is the defacto president even his security has been beefed-up to the level of the vice-president,” highly placed government sources have disclosed.
The other option that has so far been discussed and is on the table is president Sata appointing Chikwanda as vice-president, then dissolve parliament, and later steps-down to allow for a presidential and parliamentary general election so that whoever wins starts a fresh 5-year term of office.
According to highly placed government sources this option has been considered and favoured as the most cost effective because then the elections cycle in Zambia will change and there will be no need for another election in 2016.
Sources say president Sata might not be in a position to officiate at the opening of parliament on September 19th, and the law is very clear that he cannot delegate these presidential duties.
“The idea is that Chikwanda will be made vice-president and later Sata will step-down. But with Chikwanda as Acting president when Sata steps down, there will be no constitutional crisis with him (Chikwanda) opening parliament,” sources say.
As usual presidential elections will be held within 3 months as per constitution, when a sitting president steps-down or dies, as was the case with late Levy Mwanawasa’s era.
And since Chikwanda will not have powers to shake cabinet during the 3-month transition period, Sata is likely to make several other changes and leave him (Chikwanda) with friendly people to work with.
This might see a few casualties such as dismissal of the likes of Kabimba that have been antagonizing government through the Post newspaper.
Sata and former defence minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) have also reportedly reconciled and are in talking terms, which might even result in GBM bouncing back in cabinet and help Chikwanda fight the powerful unwanted Kabimba and Mmembe cartel.
Sata’s healthy has reportedly deteriorated with multiple complications, and is currently on chemotherapy treatment of the throat cancer which has resulted in severe loss of his hair and weight.
While he can delegate some presidential powers, the government and private constitutional experts have studied it and it is clear that, according to Zambian constitution and Commonwealth practices, opening of parliament is a reserve of the sitting president or in the event where the president has resigned or dies, the Acting president during the transitional period can perform certain functions.
But the Acting president will have no powers to reshuffle cabinet or dissolve parliament.
The president can also not delegate functions such as pass-out parades for military wings as this is the reserve of the elected Commander in Chief.