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FLASHBACK: Acting President Guy Scott with PF central committee members

Edgar Lungu back

ACTING President Guy Scott has reinstated Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Edgar Lungu whom he dropped from the position on Monday.
Dr Scott said that after a PF Central Committee meeting at his farm in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Lungu will retain the position as party secretary general.  Mr Lungu is also Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice.
“In the context of the agreement of the foregoing, the interim President of the Patriotic Front has stated the position of secretary general will remain with Edgar Lungu,” he said.
Dr Scott said that after the burial of the late President Sata, the PF Central Committee will meet as laid down in the party constitution.  Burial is scheduled for Tuesday November 11.
He said that any member of the Central Committee who intends to stand for election as party president, republican presidential candidate for the PF and for the position of secretary-general or holder of any other position will be required to step down from their current positions.
Dr Scott said it is critical that the PF leadership respects the mourning period and that the party and the government should remain united.
On October 31, Dr Scott instructed that all campaigning and consultation around the up-coming presidential by-election should be halted until after Mr Sata’s burial.
He said party leaders are united in an appeal for peace, adding that all party members must immediately desist from any other form of unrest or violence.
Dr Scott said that it is unacceptable that grief and mourning should be marred by violence and disorder.
Earlier, Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda said the unfolding events in the ruling party are compounding the First Lady Christine Kaseba’s anguish and that of the children.
“Suffice to say, Dr Kaseba and the children have been under severe agony for the entire period that Mr Sata was unwell.  She [First Lady] is currently facing the devasting loss of her most affectionate spouse. We do not deserve this,” Mr Chikwanda said in a statement yesterday.
He said the decision by acting President Dr Scott to relieve Mr Lungu as PF secretary general was untimely and had the potential to alarm not only Zambians but also the international community.
The minister had implored Dr Scott to rescind the decision and enable Mr Lungu to facilitate smooth operations of the party as chief executive officer.
Mr Chikwanda, who is a senior member of the PF  and confidant of  the first family, said the decision to drop Mr Lungu could cause a massive cultural shock among mourners countrywide, fracture the smooth preparations for burial and impair the image of the ruling party.
Mr Chikwanda said the prevailing circumstances in the ruling party could force heads of state of neighbouring countries to cancel plans of attending Mr Sata’s burial.
“Going forward, I also appeal to the acting President to embrace consultation and reconciliation; the hallmark of our departed President,” Mr Chikwanda said.
Earlier, Mr Lungu had contested his dismissal as PF secretary general, describing the decision as illegal and without foundation or support of the PF constitution.
He said he is also aware that there is an attempt to usurp state and party powers by a group now commonly known as the “cartel”.
And PF national chairperson Inonge Wina has appealed to all party members to mourn President Sata in a sincere and dignified manner.
Ms Wina said at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that any schemes aimed at positioning or campaigning for any person for candidacy in the presidential by-election should be rejected.
“Any attempt to circumvent the obligation to mourn our president with dignity is alien, untraditional and should not be condoned by all well-meaning citizens and friends of Zambia,” she said.
Meanwhile, some cadres yesterday blocked Dr Scott from accessing Belvedere Lodge, the mourning venue for late President Sata’s close relatives.
Dr Scott’s motorcade, which arrived at the lodge around 14:30 hours, was forced to drive off after cadres who were chanting  slogans in support of  Mr Lungu blocked the entrance.
The cadres vowed not to allow Dr Scott to visit the lodge during the mourning period.
And the late President’s son, Mulenga, has denied media reports suggesting that he is campaigning to succeed his father instead of mourning.
He has also told party members to stop campaigning for him to contest the presidency.
Mr Sata, who is also Lusaka mayor, said at a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday that he did not sanction the campaign that includes the printing of campaign T-shirts.
“I want to make it clear that I did not at any time request the attention that has been given to me by some people that I was seeking higher office,” he said.