World Bulletin/News Desk
The son of deceased Zambian President Michael Chilufya Sata has signaled his readiness to run for president, drawing rebuke for not waiting until the end of the 14-day national mourning declared following his father's death last week.
"I have heard that my name is being proposed and I am not going to say no to the people that want me to contest the forthcoming presidential by-election following the death of my father," Mulenga Sata, who is also Lusaka Mayor, told journalists on Sunday.
"This is politics, but I have to follow the normal adoption process for presidential candidates as stipulated by the Patriotic Front (PF) constitution," he added.
The Zambian government on Wednesday officially confirmed Sata's death in London one day earlier, naming Vice-President Guy Scot as acting president for a 90-day period pending new presidential elections.
Mayor Mulenga hopes to be among the shortlisted candidates the ruling party would line up for the forthcoming elections to choose a successor for his father.
"As you are aware, 70 percent of registered voters today are young people," he told reporters.
"These young people are looking forward to have a youthful presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections," he added.
"This means that the electoral college of the party has a task of choosing a candidate who will appeal to the interests of the youthful electorates," said Mulenga.
He noted that his late father was the last old generation figure to run for president.
"I, therefore, expect the next candidate for the PF ahead of the presidential by-election to be quite young," said the Lusaka mayor.
Sata, 77, became Zambia's fifth president on September 23, 2011, after defeating incumbent president Rupiah Banda of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, which had ruled Zambia for 20 years.
Former tourism minister Sylvia Masebo, a leading PF figure, was the ruling party is yet to decide on who to field in the forthcoming presidential by-election.
"The death of the president caught us unaware," she told Anadolu Agency.
"Although we were not prepared for this to happen, we will have to choose a candidate anyway," she added.
Masebo said the party would choose its candidate after the end of the late president's funeral.
"Besides, no one has proposed a name not even that of Mr. Sata Jr as a possible candidate," she told AA. "If Mr. Sata feels he is a preferred candidate, then, he needs to prove he is worth to the party."
Macdonald Chpenzi, the executive director of the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), a local NGO, wondered why Mayor Mulenga was in hurry to call a press conference to announce his willingness to contest the presidential poll.
"It is the duty of the party to announce the candidates that qualify for the vacant seat and as the acting president announced this will take place after the funeral," he told AA.
"It is, therefore, in bad faith for Mr. Sata Jr. to announce his candidature during this national mourning period," he added.
Acting President Scot had directed all ruling party organs to refrain from holding what he termed dark corner meetings where issues of who succeed Sata will be discussed until the 14-day national mourning ends.
The announcement came in the wake of infighting among senior party members, including cabinet ministers, jostling for power.
Boniface Chembe, the executive director of the Southern Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Dispute (SACCORD), another NGO, accused Sata's son of not honoring the national period.
"My advice to this young man is that let him allow the people to mourn the president with dignity," he told AA.
Chembe advised the late president's son to concentrate on mourning his father and not to begin campaigning for his candidature.
"He should be mindful that people are very emotional and he should not take these emotional lightly," he said.Last Mod: 02 Kasım 2014, 16:14