The attempt to trivialize and at worst politicize the debate on the transfer of instruments of power from President Michael Sata to Mr. Wynter Kabimba is both disingenuous and a grave affront to good governance.
It must be understood that the Presidency is a creature of statute. The office is created by the supreme law of the land- the constitution and we cannot therefore afford to be sloppy and slovenly in the manner constitutional matters are treated.
For example there is no reason why Vice President Dr. Guy Scott has not acted. He is entitled and nothing stops him from doing so. Nothing in the constitution nor any other law stops him from doing so and if indeed , God forbid, there was a vacancy in the Presidency he would have to act.
The constitution must be respected because it forms the basis on which this country is founded. For the sake of good governance, propriety and orderliness the constitution must be followed to the letter and spirit. These attributes of governance are not cosmetic but form an essential and vital part of statecraft and good governance, without which there would be no order.
Zambia is bigger that the Patriotic Front and the Presidency. The Presidency is an adjunct of and collective will of the people. That is why the constitution in Article 39 (1)states very clearly that whenever the President is absent for reasons of illness or any other reason, “ he may by directions in writing, authorize the Vice President, or where the Vice President is absent from Zambia or is incapable of discharging the functions of the office of President as he may specify, and the Vice President or such other person may discharge those functions until his authority is revoke by the President.”
It must be understood however that this provision will only apply where the President directs in writing. Such direction will usually take place in the presence of Secretary to the Cabinet who is custodian of such instruments of power.
The situation is however different in circumstances where the President is unable to direct in writing because of physical or mental infirmity.
In this case the Vice President or in his absence “Such member of the Cabinet as the Cabinet shall elect.”
Herein lay the problem.
If the President was conscious and therefore capable of delegating written authority, he should have done so in writing.
However if he was not, a different procedure would have been followed. This would have involved the entire cabinet who would have elected one of their own to act.
That is why people are concerned and have demanded for the signed instruments of power. This is not an idle request; it goes down to an issue of governance and more specifically the constitution.
The President does indeed have the power to choose anyone to act in his place- if this is done in writing. However if he is not able to choose, then the Vice President must act. In this case Vice President Guy Scott should act because nothing stops him from doing so. He may not stand as a Presidential candidate but he has every constitutional right to act until such time as the President resumes office or if indeed another person is elected to the position.
It is very important that Cabinet endeavors to put in place the various constitutional safeguards that protect the country from unnecessary man made crisis.
We should not tempt fate.