Apart from Zambia’s new President Michael Sata’s faux pax (his nomination of more members of parliament than are allowed by the constitution, which largely went unnoticed) it was the shocking, but not entirely unexpected, appointment of Vice President Guy Scott that has been creating a buzz online. Guy Scott is an indigenous white Zambian.
Scott who is ruling party, Patriotic Front's (PF) vice president, first held a ministerial post between 1991 and 1995 as Minister of Agriculture.
Some Sub-Saharan African countries including Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa have had whites and people of Asian origin as ministers but none of them have occupied a the high position of national vice president, which in the case of Zambia, is just a heartbeat away from the presidency. The constitution provides that in case of vacation by death or other prescribed means, the vice president takes over in an acting capacity until elections are held within 90 days of such vacation.
The constitution also states that only a Zambian whose both parents were born in Zambia qualifies to occupy the office of president but this clause was invalidated by the Supreme Court in a case involving Zambia’s first President Kenneth Kaunda who ruled Zambia for 27 years but was barred the second time when he attempted to contest the elections after his successor amended the constitution. The Supreme Court held that Zambia did not exist prior to independence but was known as Northern Rhodesia.
Tweeps immediately took to their keyboards when it became known who was included in President Sata's cabinet:
Zambia is the only African country with a white VP. Wonder how that will be received by “anti-white African” militants.
She declared further:
We don't care, Guy Scott is Zambian FULL STOP
@Kamukwape retweeted the same Scott announcement:
RT @zambiaelections: Zambia has white vice president, as Sata creates another ministry – Zambian Watchdog: bit.ly/rm7A4a #bantuwatch
@yowela stated the general feeling of many Zambians:
In our Zambia, it does not matter what tribe you are, or what race you are. All that matters is that you are… (Zambian and we will all get along. It even gets beyond that, as visitors from abroad come into Zambia we make them feel at home. Zambia: Let's explore!) fb.me/LgmODBzo
On the Facebook group, Zambian Peoples Pact, which largely supports the PF and its presidential candidate, questions, comments and banter were posted by members on the appointment of Dr Scott.
In a political dispensation where someone’s political fortunes are marked by the ethnic group one hails from, Mambo Phiri asked, tongue-in-cheek:
What tribe is Vice President Guy Scott?
Chilapa Chanda ascribed Scott to the Bemba ethnic group to which President Sata also belongs. Scott is said to have coined the PF’s slogan, “Dochi Kubeba” (Donchi, a corruption of the English word Don’t and Kubeba which means tell, an instruction to party supporters to get materials the now opposition MMD was dishing out to people during the campaigns but not to tell them who they would vote for):
All those complaining that there are too many bembas in cabinet, don't leave out Guy Scott! White bemba dude!
On the Zambian Watchdog website there varied responses to the appointment of Guy Scott. Bullman had this to say:
Zambians are a funny lot. You are prepared to stop someone on tribal bases and accept some who’s origin is from a different continent. Its only been 47 years guys. Please educate me of a European country which has an African origin leader? America is a totally different case that’s a country of immigrants. The land owners were wiped out and same case with Australia.
A reader by the name of Integrity rubbed it in:
I think a lot of zambians are fascinated by white people! It does not matter whether the person has qualifications or not, they just have to be white! By nature Zambians think they deserve it. How easily we forget that his ancestors were the ones selling our grandfathers and raping our grandmothers in the name of Christianity and civilization. Have the jews forgotten holocaust, no, even now they are still demanding reparations for something that happened years ago. Zambians on the other hand, “we need to show the world that we have no prejudice” America deserves Obama as a black president because the blacks make up the majority. Do whites in Zambia make up any percentage? When the whole world is recognizing achievements and the the progress of black people, we on the other hand are making headlines for sidelining our own race.
Asher defended the appointment:
From my understanding you choose a team you trust and are confortable with to work with you and is a right a president in our Country enjoys. I congratulate his excellency for being so brave as to pick beyond peoples expactation and colour. By the way the USA has a black president and not a vice from Kenya!
On Lusaka Times, Observer had this to say:
thank God Guy Scott is VP, this man is seen PF sail through difficult times and I for one I am happy that is now VP. I wish him all the best.
That proves that racism is no more..
are blacks more racist than whites? we can teach the whites how not to be racist. If OBAMA can make the white house have a different pigmented skin family as its occupier, then allow SCOTT to be.
Guy Scott is a Zambian. Sata is a genius. You know he is breaking down tribal inclinations by appointing dr. Scott! We as Zambians want a ZAMBIAN in power not a such and such a tribe president. Face it tribalism is DEAD!
I am really pleased to see that Zambians have a white Vice-President, who could be among the best candidates for the next presidency. We should remember that in Ghana, Jerry Rawlings has been one of the best presidents of the country since independence? He is a very light skinned-black! In the neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, they had to fight almost 10 years because of tribalism before electing President Ouattara.
Bravo Zambians!!! This appointment is the greatest political event the world has witnessed since Obama election. It brings to my mind the hit by Louis Satchmo Armonstrong: “http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1aw81_louis-armstrong-what-a-wonderful-wo_music”
Abdoulaye Bah, I don’t think Zambians have your “Rawlings light skin colour concept” in mind. To most Zambians, Guy Scott is that politician they know very well who knocks on their doors and asks what their problems are just like the now president Michael Sata who is a grassroots person. So if to Ghanaians a good politician must be light-skinned, to Zambians a politician must listen to them and pay attention to their problems regardless of his skin colour. There have been several white and Asian MPs and ministers in Zambia although Guy is the first to be appointed VP.
Gershom, maybe I expressed myself wrongly, but I think you didn’t understand me properly. I didn’t have the intention to speak for the Ghanaians nor to say that it was good or bad to elect a person only on the base of his race or colour of skin. I am black, with a white wife for the last 42 years, children light-skinned and grand daughters even clearer. I have worked in an environment where you could meet people from all over the world. Furthermore, it happened that among my friends, there were black and white Zambians too.
I’m a Zambian and I dont see Dr. Guy Scort is white. I see him as a Zambian.
Congratulations to Zambia for choosing a white VP!
As I read, the man has always militated for interests of Zambia, he is Zambian by all ways no matter what! Please, dear black Zambians, put aside race divisions and allow this for-Zambia-dedicated man to serve you more because he has already done that all his life. As a black African, I am proud of your good judgment in this choice, and I wish Guy all success in his duties for the good of Zambia in particular and of Africa in general.