The leader of Zambia’s Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has expressed concern about the ongoing power struggle within the ruling Patriotic Party (PF) even before the burial of deceased President Michael Sata.
Leonard Hikaumba said the power struggle is an affront to the people of Zambia, and undermines the cultural sensibilities and respect that should be accorded the late president.
“It’s very disappointing that leaders at that level can ignore and put aside our values customary traditions,” said Hikaumba. “According to our traditions, we give a lot of respect to the dead and during this mourning period, people should have concentrated on ensuring that the late president is given a dignified funeral and send off, rather than engaging in this power struggle, which we are seeing now.”
Local media reported that the PF power struggle led Interim President Guy Scott to suspend all cabinet meetings until after Sata’s burial. Scott also warned that there would be no official campaigning until after the burial, following a declaration of a14-day national mourning period for the deceased leader.
The constitution empowers the electoral commission to organize fresh presidential election within 90 days after a sitting head of state dies in office.
Hikaumba said it appears that since the current constitution prevents Interim President Scott from becoming an elected president, senior members of the PF are elbowing each other to become the candidate of the governing party.
“There are a number of people who think this is their chance now to take up that position, and each one wants to be the frontrunner, as they prepare to select a presidential candidate. So that’s why they are in such a hurry because each one wants to be the frontrunner in the race,” said Hikaumba.
Some Zambian workers have warned politicians to desist from campaigning ahead of the election, since they said the late president has yet to be buried. They called on the security agencies to crack down on any opposition or members of the ruling party that campaign before the burial.
Hikaumba concurred with the workers.
“It is true it’s not fair, it’s not good traditionally and morally for people to prioritize getting into this political office without due regard for the current situation we are in,” said Hikaumba. “So, it is s better we concentrate on the issue of mourning, and after the mourning period, then they can sit down and see who they can present as a candidate for the party.