Levy Mwanawasa warns ‘King Cobra’

Mwanawasa sounded the warning at a State House Press conference on Monday during which he announced his new cabinet.

The last few weeks, before and after the elections, have seen the two politicians issuing threats and counter-threats.

As votes poured in at Zambian Electoral Commission central counting centre, Sata, emboldened by his early lead, warned Mwanawasa and his camp against any possible tinkering with the votes.

However, by the time the last vote was counted, Mwanawasa was leading by a wide margin.

Sata, who had scooped most of the local government seats, announced that he would run a parallel government through the councils where he intended to have several local government laws repealed and new by-laws passed.

“What Sata is saying is treason. Let him not push his luck too far. I will sort him out. There is no such thing as independent local government,” warned Mwanawasa.

He further threatened to dissolve the same councils Sata was bragging about.

According to the Local Government Act, the Local Government Minister has powers to dissolve any council without any notice. In that case, Mwanawasa would instruct the new Local Government Minister Sylvia Masebo to terminate the tenure of whichever council.

In the previous government, Masebo suspended some councils before she was moved to the Health portfolio.

This is not the first time Mwanawasa and Sata have crossed each other’s paths.

Early last month, the two politicians had some memorable exchanges at the Electoral Commission of Zambia where they had gone for a briefing.

Upon meeting Mwanawasa, outspoken Sata uttered words suggesting that he (Sata) would be taking over from him very soon.

This infuriated Mwanawasa, who retorted by saying in Bemba:

“Kuti fyakubipila apa pene nga uleyangala (If you are not careful, things can turn sour for you right away)” as his security moved between the two.

When in 2001 former President Frederick Chiluba opted for Mwanawasa instead of Sata to take over from him, Sata had sworn: “Mwanawasa can only go to State House over my dead body.”

Notwithstanding this threat, Mwanawasa proceeded to occupy State House and there was no dead body to jump over.

In the 2001 elections, Sata was one of the presidential hopefuls whose performance was disastrous.

When the Movement for Multiparty Democracy wrestled power from the then ruling United National Independence Party in 1991, Sata was one of the people Mwanawasa failed to work with as republican vice president under Chiluba.

Three years later Mwanawasa resigned as vice president, citing malpractices in the Chiluba government.

A number of ministers followed suit and resigned thereafter, but Sata stayed put until he and Chiluba fell out in 2001.

October 2006
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