Succession Battle Heats Up As President’s Health Fades

As President Michael Sata’s health appears to be taking a turn for the worse this week, the battle for succession from within the Patriotic Front (PF) ruling party has again spilled out into the public.

Well placed sources inside State House tell Zambia Reports that the past 24 hours have been very difficult for President Sata, and that he is not stable.

PF infighting usually intensifies in response to the president’s health, and the latest turn has made matters particularly bad.

“Since Thursday has been suffering uncontrollable vomiting and failure of bodily functions, and his weight is down to 50kg from his previous weight of 110kg,” said the source. “The family is very sad, and all State House staff are worried as things are not OK. We are expecting anything right now, which is part of the reason why Kabimba is going after ABC.”

The two key figures in the succession struggle at this stage appear to be PF Secretary General and Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba, representing the so-called “cartel” including Prosecutor Mutembo Nchito and Post Newspaper Editor Fred M’membe, who are fighting for the removal of Finance Minister Alexander B. Chikwanda (ABC).

Chikwanda, who himself is in his mid-80s, reportedly has no desire to stand as a presidential candidate, however he has maintained the closest, most loyal relationship with President Sata and would likely be the default Acting President in the event that the head of state were incapacitated. Sources say that Chikwanda represents a major threat to the cartel, and that they are determined to purge him from the government at any cost before he can assume the powers of Acting President.

“The Cartel wants ABC out by all means, and they are trying to engineer a way for Kabimba to become Acting President,” the source said. “The two senior PF members became enemies when Chikwanda blasted Kabimba and told to ‘stop campaigning for an office that isn’t vacant,’ which then resulted in Kabimba reporting the issue to Nchito and M’membe. That’s why the Post Newspaper is relentlessly attacking Chikwanda, and possibly the DPP could ring up a bogus criminal charge against him.”

According to sources informing Zambia Reports, since returning from Israel President Sata has only allowed visits from a handful of ministers, including Chikwanda and Defence Minister Edgar Lungu. Chikwanda is the only minister that can meet with President Sata one-on-one, as press aide George Chellah is not allowed to attend these meetings, which has panicked the cartel. The source additionally alleges that Chikwanda has passed an intelligence briefing to President Sata revealing the cartel’s plans to seize power, and that they are wishing for his death to campaign on public sympathy.

“Kabimba decided to attack Chikwanda after the minister went to visit H.E. last week and told him all about the cartel’s plans,” the source said. “After the meeting with Chikwanda, President Sata called Kabimba and told him to watch himself, and not to think that he would be president even if he has to die. ‘I will not fire you now, I will let you be and pretend I know nothing but the people shall deal with you,’ Sata told Kabimba.”

There is also a tribal element to the Kabimba-Chikwanda dispute, as was revealed during the last period of infighting in July, when President Sata was abroad in Israel receiving medical treatment. The President’s son, Mulenga Sata, began raising his profile as a potential successor with the support of Chikwanda and other cabinet members from Northern Province who want to ensure that the next president is a Bemba. Shortly thereafter, Vice President Guy Scott attacked Mulenga Sata on behalf of the cartel, arguing that he couldn’t stand for president under the parentage clause.

The cartel’s campaign to remove the Finance Minister began with the leaking of a classified government earlier this week which purported to accuse Chikwanda of violating rules by refunding value added tax (VAT) to mining exporters. This was followed by a number of “calls for resignation” from quasi-independent figures with known links to the cartel, such as Fr. Richard Luonde, Bishop John Mambo, and Edith Nawakwi.

The source says Finance Bank Chairman Rajan Mahtani who is a key financier of the cartel has also been involved, instructing his employee Bishop Mambo to join the attack against Chikwanda. Bishop Mambo was co-opted by Mahtani earlier this year and given a well paid position on the board of Zambezi Portland Cement – a company whose original owners say was stolen from them by Mahtani.

On behalf of his charity Chikondi Foundation, which usually focuses on childrens’ issues, Bishop Mambo attacked the Finance Minister over the VAT refund issue, remarking, “Chikwanda has clearly been exposed and he must step down.”

Then only two days after Bishop Mambo’s attack against Chikwanda, Mahtani attempted to distance himself from his proxy, publishing a notice on his website Zambian Intelligence News saying that he would “castigate” Bishop Mambo for his actions and that he had “respect” for the Honourable Minister Chikwanda. At the time of publishing, there was no indication that Bishop Mambo had been removed from his position at Zambezi Portland Cement.

“Mahtani is trying to play it both ways because he has so much to lose,” a source close to the Mahtani Group of companies tells Zambia Reports. “He needs the cartel to seize power, because any other government might revisit his illegal shareholding in Finance Bank and reopen the money laundering and forgery cases that were set aside by Nchito.”

In response to the attacks over the VAT issue, Chikwanda has issued statements defending himself, but appears not to be worried as he is counting on the support of state media outlets such as the Times of Zambia and Zambian Daily Mail.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Nation, People’s Party President Mike Mulongoti slammed Fr Luonde and Bishop Mambo for their uninformed comments: “It would appear that there is a war of attrition in the PF either as a result of the struggle for political power, contracts or succession and the clique that has launched the hate and slander campaign against Mr Chikwanda is in fact fighting President Sata. There is a government in this country under the administration of the PF and it is our expectation that those aspiring for power should have respect for the Sata administration. I am also wondering whose interests Fr Luonde and Bishop Mambo are serving in all this because that is not their jurisdiction.”

As for M’membe and Nchito, there is a strong interest to install Kabimba as president in order to avoid paying a K14 million that the two men owe to the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) following the bankruptcy of Zambian Airways. The issue of the unpaid DBZ debt has been one of the most controversial legal issues in the country, as the cartel has succeeded in forming a special judicial review commission with the power to fire judges who ruled against them on the matter.


  1. Stan

    End of an era for many involved, whichever way the wind blows, Chikwanda, Nchito, Kabimba, Mahtani and Sata’s family are marooned with no hope of a savior.

  2. Dr. Lawrence Mwamba

    Critical times such as this one that Zambia is facing do come to many nations of the world. It is important for the Zambians who are the custodians of the great land to have facts before they go to the polls and vote for a leader. From the off set Wynter Kabimba has some good credentials under his belt such as his law Degree that makes him a favorable Candidate to take the Presidency of the Republic Of Zambia. An individual who is a qualified attorney has a better leverage in interpreting the law of the land. It pays great dividends in Government when you as a leader is well groomed and grounded in law as a profession. President Obama of The United States Of America and President Bill Clinton are all lawyers by profession. Having a good grasp of Governmental law or it’s other off shoots enables an individual interpret and implement the law of the land cautiously, intelligently and accordingly.
    Mr. Wynter Kabimba has not only got the education but he also has been on the run in Government and as such has the needed experience to be a good and capable President Of the Republic Of Zambia. To my knowledge he has faithfully carried out his duties with good success. He has been one of the strong men in Government, he is young and physically capable to execute the duties of President. Mr. Chikwanda is 80, this leaves him with very little wiggle room to perform at the same pace as that of Mr. Kabimba. Age is a plus, and the older you are the more wiser you become , however we need new blood in Zambia we need a much younger President like here in the United states where our President is only 53. He is physically fit, he plays Basketball and is very active. I do believe 80 is a good age to step aside and give advise to the younger generation. Let us consider Mr. Wynter Kabimba For President, if at all the unexpected had to happen to our current President.

    • qyuo

      we cant afford two funerals consecutely. We better get one who is health with a higher stiock of helath. Just my thots. Silva of Brazil was not a lawyer but he led his country well. The Botswana president is not a lawyer but makes a sane president. I suggest we consider others

    • jack

      I have no problem with winter taking over but his character leaves much to be desired.this guy has hatred for certain people and can not easily forget about them.vengeance with instruments of power is not required he has no wisdom that the problem.to me he is not good material for a leader I think the president should appoint edger lungu as VP he looks matured of late then start selling him now

    • Ricky Bobby?

      Dr Mwamba – It seems to me to a certain extent that you acknowledge that all is not well with Sata for you to be pushing for Kabimba’s succession. You then proceed to extol his virtuous.
      But you seem to forget that this self-same ‘noble’ lawyer is part of the collective (Cabinet) cabal that is failing to uphold (or interpret) the constitution towards convening a medical board to ascertain Sata’s state of health.
      It took 3 years before Guy Scott could realize that he is eligible to act as President and yet this ‘great’ lawyer is working closely with him.
      How then do you consider this man as an upright man good enough to take over after Sata despite such blatant failure?
      Your analysis leads me to wonder if you’re a doctor – or if you are, what kind of doctor.

    • Cabbage -Barotseland

      The fomer president of Brazil had no serious education background but he is the best president Brazil had this law thing is just a qualification any one can have but leadership is devine

    • Wanzelu

      HH and UPND the only answer to all this PF madness.

  3. Wantanshi

    Sata should act wisely and fast if still got a little strength left to do one positive thing, if it’s the last thing he has to do, i.e not allow criminals to take over the country.

  4. binwell kunda

    We will not only be lookng at education,but other attributes that makes a good leader.
    Currently zambia lucks in the ways of obama, micheal has tried his best and i wish him
    to continue until such a time. What we may be lookng for should not just a leader with
    education or lawyer but a wise leader free frm coruption and a man who will unite the
    country not a party cadre mentality president. For now sata is the front rider, al else is
    rubbish. Gentlemen lets unite and pray for sata’s good health chapwa.

  5. pascale fonko fonko

    Pray for who,,,..Ba sata….Hell no i would rather pray for mother zambia


    Ba Zambia reports do not lie Sata is very well and exulting his duties very well . the wife who shares the bed with him , who is the father of her children is been telling Zambian that her husband is well very fit . Now who is telling the truth . Ba pamafi akufiseni . Ifyakulya ubushiku fikatulikila kumalushi . chilomo changulube chikaipeneka. Winter is busy campaigning while his master is in bed , no remorse , Mushota and chitutuma busy praising the unseen master . what is wrong with this bamakaka . they have taken Zambans for granted < God is watching

  7. Blago

    Sata has destroyed the country. Because of Sata, Zambia is now marinated in tribalism. I no longer think of going back to Zambia because of Sata.

  8. Daywalker

    Our Beloved Grandpa’s Sata, Scott and Chikwanda have squandered an opportunity to take us forward. They are like a soldier who has been surrounded and he is only left with a hand grenade. Will they choose to ‘ ukufilila munsenga ‘ and pretend they will take us to Canaan. God has already spoken on these things, you years shall be three score and ten. These are not their years, they have been blessed with second, third and N.th chances. Instead of defending a position our beloved Grandpa’s have already lost to gods will these old men should annoint a young disciple to take over. Wynter was good enough for them when they were in opposition how has he soured now. He is the only one with balls to challenge the wisdom of our beloved Grandpa’s and in a normal,society thats worth more than idle popularity. Mr Sata ‘ Amano ya Chifyaliwa ‘ have been exhausted and taxed to their limits and have proved that more is required for Zambia to progress. This is generation X where a good education is critical. #Standard 7, my foot! It doesn’t take rocket science to realise that Guy and the guys have ran their course and are now tempting fate. Michael Sata mistrusted the advice of his more educated friends the same way academically challenged FTJ suffered not having been part of ‘ Ba Monku’ and secretly despised them because he was the one who had been chosen President and not them. Note that both of them had made a name in Victoria and KMB station as sweeper, driver, conductor etc.The next president should come from Unza or CBU (UNZANDO), that in itself will deal with half of our national problems. In this respect Wynter, HH, et. al should up their game by courting the army of graduates out there for Zambia to recoup its investment in our education. Our mothers, fathers,brothers and sisters in the markets, bus stations and vending on the street must accept that they should now follow the sons and daughters they have educated at great expense. ‘Ba Nkote’ and ‘Amano ya Chifyaliwa ‘ are no longer enough for a modern Zambia to develop. Abash ubututu!

  9. Bemba Bimbo

    Zambia needs to get out of this hole Sata has put us in.

    The current PF liars, cheats, crooks, conmen should have no place in the next Government. Let us learn from this recycling of MMD politicians to PF that just bring the CORRUPTION into the next Government.

    We have heard their LIES, do not be fooled TWICE!

    CLEAN GOVERNMENT is the way forward. A new CONSTITUTION that PF has lied about with Satas 90 day promises is what we need.

    And no more AUTNTIES as Chief Justice!

    Rule of LAW must prevail.

  10. Lukulu

    ZR, you need to change your source in statehouse. Sata is much better than what he was a month ago. He is preparing for September, gradually recovering, pracising speech therapy.

  11. Rob

    MMD, ABZ, ADD and all other opposition parties shall join hands and make RB interim president with clear agreement that a free and fair elections will be held in 2016 with all opposition parties allowed to contest on an even platform. New constitution shall be in place within 6 months as recommended to the PF government and denied to the citizens. If HH in his usual greed does not agree, no time wasting on him and his short-sighted cadres. Ignore him completely and go for it. Common agenda shall include the following- arrest of Nsanda willie, Kabimba, Kaseba, Mulenga, Chikwanda, Mahtani, RDA thieves, Police torturers and repeal of Public Order Act, removal of immunity of Sata, whether dead or alive.

    • maman

      All the small parties can gang up and still lose to PF or UPND. Stop day dreaming. The race is between PF and UPND. The total sum of Zero + Zero is Zero. Those junck Parties bring Zero to the Alliance which in itself is a Zero. I would encourage UPND and PF never to again consider these useless alliances. They are a waste of time.

  12. Daywalker

    Amnesty would help ecourage leaders to step down. The threat of jail keeps some of these guys hostage even when they want to resign. Zambian christianity must learn to forgive as well if we are to progress.

    Having had a muzungu VP, we might as well have an motlantle style RB interim presidency with a woman VP this time, e.g. Dora or Edith. The 50%+1 and the clauses regarding presidential succession and powers maybe amended, the rest of the draft constitution is gobbledygook to me.

    In 2016 we will then pick an afrocentrically educated youth with an inspiring vision to lead. E.g. Barack was highlighted at the democratic convention.

    How many of these political parties have conventions, they are just like their NGO friends and have ‘owners’ instead of leaders who never want to give chance for freedom of choice from their own organisations. It’s taboo to talk about maintenance of human capital in Zambian organisation.

    If I was the magnanimous RB who gave up the pusuit of Presidency willingly I would even consider Wynter as a VP or HH, this would show they have humility to serve the zambian people. After all even a football team brings in the best coaches, player, manager, sponsors and supporter groups, why can’t we do the same in our politics for team Zambia.

    Our leaders have ‘full stop’mentality (they think everything ends with them with no future after them). This way of thinking often ends up bring out a ‘fool stop’ reaction.

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