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Zambia’s Vice President Denies President Sata Underwent Surgery

Zambia's new President Michael Sata, right, takes the oath of office on the steps of the supreme court in Lusaka, Zambia, Friday Sept. 23, 2011. Sata defeated incumbent Zambia's President Rupiah Banda in Tuesday Sept. 20 elections.

Guy Scott says President Sata might have gone to India for routine medical checkup

Zambia’s Vice President, Guy Scott, said President Michael Sata is on a planned private visit to India and not for medical treatment as reported in both Indian and local media.

The Times of India newspaper reports that the 75-year-old Zambian president underwent laser procedure at Samved Urology Hospital Saturday.

Citing unconfirmed reports, the paper said Sata was expected to leave the city of Ahmedabad Monday after being discharged.

But, Vice President Scott said it is normal for the president to go on a private visit and undergo a medical checkup.

“He went to India for a personal visit and, whenever I make a personal visit, I have a checkup, and maybe he is having a checkup, too. It was planned for quite long time ago. There have been many times that he [Sata] has been pronounced dead. So, we are a bit used to it here,” he said.

Scott accused members of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) of jubilating over Sata’s supposed health problems.

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema entered into a coalition with Sata’s Patriotic Front party prior to last year’s election. But, it fell apart before the election.

Scott appealed to Zambians and outsiders not to speculate on the health of Sata.

“There is no good reason to suppose our boss is sick. He might have gone for a checkup. You expect to have a checkup, and I would certainly have a checkup because, when you passed 50, it’s best to watch the gauge on the dashboard,” Scott said.

Scott and Sata were in opposition for a long time before winning last September’s election. Scott said governing is different from being in the opposition.

“One of your New York mayors once said that you campaign in poetry, and you govern in prose. So, there is a lot of detail and a lot boring stuff to deal with in governing, but the basic issues on which we fought are still alive, and we will do what we can about them,” he said.

The Zambian vice president said the biggest challenge for the Sata government is reducing the country’s high youth unemployment.

“You are phoning from the United States where the problem of youth unemployment is an issue. All over Africa, all over the Middle East, it’s a problem,” Mr. Scott said.

He said the Sata government is doing what it can to get a grip on the country’s high youth unemployment.

“We are changing our economic variables, we are fighting corruption, we are getting interest rates down, we are making things better for the investors,” Scott said.