The US Embassy in Lusaka last week briefed senior officials from Western Embassies and UN agencies based in Zambia that they should anticipate a violent and bloody presidential by-election in Zambia, the Zambian Watchdog has been told.
The US intelligence system, which has good relations with Israel, is said to have obtained details of the condition of President Michael Sata directly from Israel and does not expect that he has many more months to survive as his condition is degenerative.
More worrying is that apart from Sata who has been the glue holding the ruling PF together; the party is a welter of confusion and without any discernible individual who can give leadership in times of crisis.
This situation sharply contrasts with the time when Zambia lost President Mwanawasa but had a viable Vice President, a fairly rational Minister of Justice and a relatively united cabinet. None of these conditions exist at the moment.
The US is worried that there are desperate factions within the PF who are intent on capturing power at any cost. It has noted that each of these factions has been grooming unemployed youths into reserve militias. More seriously, it has noted that there has been an increase in the importation of machetes in the country. Importation of machetes has in recent times in Africa preceded genocide and mass slaughters. It believes that the situation gifts the opposition to wrestle power from the ruling party, but it is unlikely that the election will be free and fair as it will be colored by mass violence.
Due to these worrying developments, the US has called a confidential meeting of all its ambassadors based in the SADC region to alert them of the development and discuss how they can help resolve the tension. The meeting will be held in the next few days. At the same time they would like to raise the issue with various SADC heads of state to persuade them to help diffuse the situation.