The leader of Zambia's main opposition Patriotic Front (PF)
party is calling for a thorough investigation into the health of President Levy
Mwanawasa to determine whether is he is fully fit to govern. Soon after the
government reported that President Mwanawasa was in stable, but critical
condition, Michael Sata urged the Mwanawasa cabinet to appoint a medical team
immediately to travel to France to examine the Zambian leader. The government,
however, dismissed Sata's pronouncement describing it as unfortunate and
fraught with political malice.
President Mwanawasa is in intensive care in
Paris where he was taken after suffering a stroke two weeks ago during an
African Union meeting in Egypt. From the capital Lusaka, Zambia's minister for
information Mike Mulongoti tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition
leader's call is fraught with political undertones.
the first place, you would appreciate he is a politician. He is playing
politics because he knows very well that under our laws a person for instance
when employed in government, is allowed to be on full salary for 90 days before
you can go on another 90 days of half-salary. And only thereafter, would there
be need to ask a medical board to examine the suitability to continue in
employment. The president has only been away for only two weeks or so. I do not
think there is any need at all to begin to look into that area," Mulongoti
said the government has so far been functioning well, despite the absence of
any case, the constitution provides for the vice president to act in the absence
of the president. And so far, there is no vacuum that has been created," he
said the government has been disseminating information about the condition of
the president when it receives it from the hospital in France.
government passes on the information as given to it by the medical authorities,
starting from Egypt, and then the current status in Paris in France. And it
would not be appropriate for government to create extra information, which
would not be in the interest of the people of Zambia. So, at most and as
possible, the information passed on to the people of Zambia is being received
from Paris," Mulongoti noted.
said there was need to keep some aspects of President Mwanawasa's health
any case, medical authorities always consider the privacy of the individual
patient and the matters that are unethical would not be brought for public
consumption because at the end of the day, the fact that he is president does
not mean he ceases his right as a human being. So, as far as we are concerned
as government, we pass on to the people of Zambia the information made
available by the medical authorities," he said.
questioned the rationale behind people who wanted more information than the
government is providing.
anybody would want to have information beyond that, the question asked is for
what purposes? Because at the end of the day the medical authorities are giving
information that we think is adequate to keep the people of Zambia informed about
the status of the president," Mulongoti pointed out.
denied the government is misleading Zambians about the current condition of
think the information that is being given is intended to keep the people of
Zambia aware that the president is alive and he is recuperating. And as to the
specific medical details, I do not know whether it is to be shared with the
general public because information given to you as a medical person, you would
understand it different from a person who is not a medical person. So, as far
as we are concerned, we are satisfied that the information being passed on is
adequate for the general public to appreciate," he said.