Guy Scott gave a rather blatant indication that His Excellency Michael Sata will be missing this week from the Jubilee festivities when he made it clear that the presidential duties would have to be shared. Reuters the world-renowned news source also noted this development as President Sata’s health has become a news story that attracts international attention, particularly following last month’s UN Summit.
Sata has missed numerous events in recent months. His Excellency missed the investiture of Mugabe as Chair of SADC in August; he missed the US African Summit the same month; and he missed the UN Summit in September, despite travelling to New York for the occasion. It has also been reported that he now misses a considerable amount of his day-to-day duties, such as the charing of Cabinet meetings.
The President nevertheless stunned critics by emerging for the opening of parliament on September 19. However, due to restrictions on journalist attendance at the event many different sources have given contradictory accounts about just how well he looked. Some have gone as far as to say he fell and barely read even part of his speech, whilst others have claimed he fulfilled his duties well enough.
This time around State House has at least come clean about the President’s absence, if not his whereabouts. It is commendable that they have finally acknowledged the need to share some information with the public regarding the President’s health. However, whilst they have admitted that he has to see a doctor, they stopped far short of total disclosure and the explanation provided in this week’s press statement issued by George Chellah that he is merely receiving a check-up, raises more questions than it answers. If it were merely a check-up then why would he not schedule it for the week before or after the Jubilee celebrations; if it were merely a check-up then why would he not go to UTH or any hospital in Zambia? It is unlikely that the 200% surge in domestic medical prices put him off!
The fact that President Sata has once again travelled for medical treatment and at such a time as the week of the Jubilee suggest the seriousness of his current health. Our prayers and thoughts are with him and his family.