When a Vice-President works in the dark: Guy Scott and the vacuum from Tel Aviv
E. Munshya, LLB (Hons), M.Div
Never in the short history of our republic have we had a vice-president who is as marginalised as Guy Lindsay Scott. Effectively, this Patriotic Front government has managed to reduce the vice-president of our republic to a non-entity. As if it is not enough that Scott has no clue of much of the stuff happening in a government in which he is number two, the Speaker of our parliament ordered him to release a statement about the whereabouts of President Sata. The people of Milenge would call this “uku tumfya”. Kutumfya to ask Scott to release a statement when the gentleman is in the dark, as always. The statement Scott released to parliament is notoriously honest, scandalously ironic and goes to prove just how out of the loop Scott has been. That Scott has not resigned in spite of this rampant snubbing deserves an analysis of its own. But it certainly takes a lot of steel to be a Veep in a cabinet, which shamefully ostracises you.
Scott supplemented his parliamentary statement with a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview he had on Wednesday June 25 2014. In this interview he accused a “small tribe in the south of Zambia” as the source of lies, innuendo and rumours about President Sata’s health and controversial visit to Tel Aviv. Without, dwelling too much on the demerits of his insult of this “small tribe”, it seems that Dr. Scott seems to project his own insignificance in the Patriotic Front on to others.
Guy Scott, in spite of having the Zambian constitution on his side, has never acted as president. Foremost, the job of any vice-president is to act as president in the absence of a president. Additionally, a Veep is supposed to manage an executive transition in the event of a vacancy in the office of president. As an acting president, a Veep is supposed to call for fresh elections within ninety days. It is quite fascinating though that Scott has never, at any time, fulfilled his constitutional job description. Sata always leaves power in the hands of Dr. Scott’s unelected juniors. This should hurt. An explanation has been cooked up, that tries to justify this disregard of procedure by stating that Scott cannot act as president because he is a muzungu. I have searched the constitution of our republic, and it does not bar a Whiteman from acting as president. The decision to sideline Scott within the realms of the don’t kubeba power structure does seem to me that it is informed by racism or tribalism. What else could explain this clear preference for black Zambians over a white one? The irony is that this very tribalism that victimizes Guy Scott is the same one he is projecting on to others when he characterises those wanting information about his boss as a “small tribe” from the south of Zambia. This is the problem of racism and tribalism: it turns its victims into vicious tribalists themselves. The only way to help Dr. Scott, perhaps, is for the PF government to stop its policy of a racist embargo on Scott solely because of the colour of his skin.
It was on Sunday, June 22 that Hon Mwansa Kapeya released a government statement explaining that President Sata had arrived in Israel at “the invitation of President Shimon Peres.” This was surprising because the trip had not been previously announced. In fact, Kapeya seemed to have released the statement only after rumours had surfaced about the whereabouts of President Sata. Kapeya stated that Sata left Zambia on Friday June 20. So between Friday and Sunday, there was no word from the government about Sata’s whereabouts. This was a serious lapse in the judgment of presidential handlers. An invitation of our president by the president of Israel should never be a secret.
Kapeya also stated that Zambia’s Honorary Consular-General Ms. Ronit Hershkovitz received President Sata. This should make this trip quite official and it buttresses the reasons why the Zambian public should have been informed of it in the first place. After this statement from Kapeya, social media went into overdrive particularly when it became apparent that Peres would in fact be in Washington, DC and not Tel Aviv to host Sata. The response from Kapeya was to threaten jail for those doubting Thomases. Kapeya enjoys jailing, it seems.
And then parliament intervened. It was a Member of Parliament from Southern Province who raised a point of order requesting the Speaker to direct the PF government to clarify this Sunday statement. This honour fell on the leader of government business in the house – the vice-president. Unsurprisingly, Dr Scott’s statement seems to have contradicted Kapeya’s central assertion:
Unfortunately, it is also asserted that he is doing this at the invitation of the Israeli President Mr Shimon Peres. This is misleading because President Sata is not there on a State Visit but on a Private Working Holiday…Sata will be combining sight-seeing, relaxation and business meetings.
Scott then concluded by stating that this is all he could say without entering “into the fantasy world of the Zambian social media and its necrophiliac correspondents and editors.” Obviously, Scott is very ruthless with words. He is of British heritage after all. It is sarcastic that he could label social media in these insulting words when his boss runs a very popular Facebook page that has nevertheless not been updated for weeks. Sata’s Facebook page came with a lot of cimwela and was a reliable source of ZNBC main news. Surprise, surprise, Guy Scott today calls social media “necrophiliac”.
After this statement in parliament BBC asked him about whether President Sata has cancer. He answered, “I can’t know because I am not his wife”. Asked further about the rumours about Sata’s health, Scott answered it is only a small tribe in the south stoking these rumours.
Guy Scott could be right, he has no idea about President Sata’s health. In fact, he has no idea about many things going on in government. The reason is not really because he is not Sata’s wife. But rather that, in spite of being a vice-president, he has been erroneously marginalised based on the colour of his skin. While Scott salutes his unelected subordinate Kabimba as acting president in Lusaka, I hope Scott’s boss enjoys his time in the Jewish state “sight-seeing, relaxing and having business meetings”. The Jewish state has confirmed that President Sata is in Israel at the invitation of President Peres. This is a welcome reprieve coming half a week later. Nevertheless, while all this is going on, I hope Scott will not think that the health status of President Sata is a manufactured rumour by a small tribe. If that were the case, all of us, will then be that small tribe. Scott should make no mistake, if this small tribe decide otherwise come 2016; he and his boss will never go sightseeing in Tel Aviv at taxpayers’ expenses. Never again.