PRESIDENT Michael Sata is fit and the demands for the establishment of a medical board by civil rights campaigner Brebner Changala are frivolous and vexatious, Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska has declared.
Dr Msiska, in his submissions in a matter where Mr Changala has applied for judicial review in a matter where Judge Isaac Chali has refused to recuse himself on allegations of being biased said the successful opening of the fourth session of the 11th National Assembly by President Sata was an indication that the Head of State was fit.
But the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) has cautioned President Sata’s handlers to ‘‘do the right thing’’ in dealing with the health of the Head of State.
Dr Msiska said Cabinet could not therefore be compelled to constitute a medical board to examine the physical and mental status of President Sata.
Mr Changala had asked the Lusaka High Court to commence judicial review to his demand so that a medical board could ascertain President Sata’s physical and mental capacity.
In his application, Mr Changala said he had been forced to seek judicial review following the President’s recent frail appearances coupled with his incoherent public speeches that have fueled speculation and innuendoes about the health of the Head of State.
In a letter to Wynter Kabimba who was then acting president while President Sata travelled to Israel captioned ‘‘Establishment of a medical board-Article 36 of the Constitution of Zambia, Cap 1,’’ Mr Changala had stated that while President Sata appeared to enjoy good health and was of reasonable health appearance in stature and coherent in speech soon after ascending to the presidency, he had noted with grave concern that the appearance of the Head of State in the recent past had raised public concern and speculation as to his physical and mental capacity to discharge the functions of the office of the President.
But Dr Msiska said President Sata had demonstrated that there was no need for a medical board to examine his physical and mental health by undertaking a trip to the United State for the United Nations General Assembly.
In his affidavit in opposition of ex-parte summons, Dr Msiska said the civil rights campaigner’s application was vexatious because according to him, the Constitution dictates that it was the discretion of the Chief Justice to ask Cabinet to constitute a medical board.
He said that he had been advised that the existence of wide discretionary powers under the Constitution suggested that there was no mandatory requirement for Cabinet to act judiciously. Dr Msiska said there was no need for High Court Judge in-charge Chali to hear Mr Changala because the grounds advanced that the judge was biased as well as his letter to the Judicial Complaints Authority were unreasonable.
“In any case, His Excellency the President has been conducting his duties as is exemplified in the fact that he opened Parliament on the 19th of September, 2014 and also undertook an official trip to the United States of America for the United Nations General Assembly,” Dr Msiska said.
He also said there were no reasonable grounds for Judge Chali to recuse himself from presiding over the matter as there was no evidence of actual or perceived bias.
But ZEC spokesperson Father Cleopas Lungu said the Patriotic Front (PF) government and President Sata’s handlers should exercise civility in discussing the Head of State’s health that had dominated public discourse after Mr Sata opened Parliament.
Fr Lungu said President Sata was in a frail state when he opened the fourth session of the 11th National Assembly.
President Sata travelled to New York for the United Nations General Assembly but failed to address the global meeting and delegated Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba to deliver his speech on his behalf.
“Doctors, the people around the President, the family and everyone should do the right thing which is in the interest of the nation.
There should be a lot of sensitivity around the discussion and not push the debate to the limit where it will amount to the intrusion on his right of privacy, Fr Lungu said.