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Zambia’s ‘King Cobra’ President Publicly Calls Ministers, MPs Fools

Recently, Zambian President Michael Sata called one of his senior ministers a fool on national TV for failing to repair a presidential guest house in the country’s second largest city Kitwe, about 400 kilometres from the capital Lusaka.

President Michael Sata addressing parliament. Picture used with permission from Lusaka Times.

President Michael Sata addressing parliament. Photo used with permission from Lusaka Times.

This incident came barely a few weeks after President Sata told off his Vice-President Dr. Guy Scott and some ministers in remarks that were also broadcast on national TV.

Below is a video posted by YouTube user Matongo Maumbi showing Sata rebuking one of his ministers:

Sata is known for his abrasiveness and disregard for protocol at both local and international functions, actions which seem to be sending Zambians cringing each time he appears in public.

But it is the president’s latest remarks on November 20 while on a campaign trail of a by-election in the provincial capital of Luapula, Mansa, about 1,000 kilometres from Lusaka where he insulted members of parliament from the region that have raised questions on the state of the 76-year old-leader who was elected into office two years ago.

Quoting community radio station Yangeni, the Zambian Eye reported:

President Michael Sata has said his Members of Parliament from Luapula Province are foolish.

Radio Ya[n]geni, a Community Radio station in Mansa reports that President Sata said this when he addressed a public rally to drum up support for the Patriotic Front (PF) candidate in Mansa Central Constituency by-election at Muchinka Primary School Grounds today.

President Sata said next year, 2014 [the next elections are scheduled for 2016] the people should give him Members of Parliament with brains because the current crop of Parliamentarians are foolish.

Commenting on social commentator Proud Aushi Musamba Mumba’s page, Barbara Chanda wrote:

we have doctors close to the president who cant tell the trruth because of fear of retribution this is not sata as hes known hes definetly not well yes he can rant but not to this extent unfortunately us africans too are a bit mental we will start jumping up and down like poisoned rats to encourage him and say hes proactive and encouaging [his members of parliament] to work when everyone is shaking like a leaf scared of being sacked they cant make any decisions because they might offend him! [all sic]

Before President Sata’s trip to Mansa, citizen media website Zambia Reports wrote about what was expected of the head of state:

The President, who is spontenous in his public appearances and produces some made-for-stage theatrics, is expected to address rallies with his first call set for Muchinka grounds in Mansa. Mansa residents may just enjoy a portion of the drama from their Head of State.

In the Kitwe incident, in which Communications, Works and Supply Minister Yamfwa Mukanga was lambasted, the Zambian Watchdog reported:

President Micheal Sata today again went ballistic when he publicly insulted Communications, Works and Supply Minister Yamfwa Mukanga over the presidential Lodge in Kitwe’s Ndeke township. […] Mukanga was blasted like a small boy in front of his juniors and television cameras as he (Mukanga) kept smiling without anything to do in front of the Zambian president nicknamed ‘king cobra’.

At an earlier function to commemorate Armistice Day, which falls on November 11 every year, President Sata laid into Mukanga and other officials. Mainstream media the Post reported the story:

Where is Yamfwa Mukanga? Why is there no water here and the grass is not green? Why haven't you done anything on Dr Chiluba's [Zambia's second president] grave…Kale sana nakweba (I told you a long time ago) […] I will do it myself if you can't put a house on Chiluba's grave.

Zambia's Vice-President Dr. Scott was yet again on the receiving end:

You the Vice-President are in charge of this place, why is it that the flowers and the grass are withering and there is no water? You Roland Msiska also, why is the grass here in this poor state and yet you operate from here?

At another function, Sata published admonished his vice president for sending a junior minister outside the country to officiate at a function of a company that imports second hand cars, asking:

“You sent your deputy minister to glorify second-hand vehicles. This was your speech which your deputy minister read. Why should we glorify second-hand vehicles, and you say we have a Vice-President?”

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