Zambia’s Michael Sata – Biography

 

 

After ten years in opposition, Sata defeated Banda, the incumbent, to win the September 2011 presidential election with a plurality of the vote.

Early years

Michael Chilufya Sata was born and brought up in Mpika, Northern Province. He worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during colonial rule. He spent time in London working on the railway sweeping the platforms. Among other things, he was a porter at Victoria railway station . Sata began actively participating in the politics of Northern Rhodesia in 1963. Following independence, he worked his way up through the rough-and-tumble rank-and-file of the ruling United National Independence Party (UNIP) to the governorship of Lusaka in 1985. As Governor, he made his mark as a man of action with a hands on approach. He cleaned up the streets, patched roadways and built bridges in the city. Afterward he became a Member of Parliament for Kabwata constituency in Lusaka. Though once close with President Kenneth Kaunda, he became disillusioned by Kaunda’s dictatorial style and he left the UNIP to join the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) during the campaign for multi-party politics in 1991.

After Frederick Chiluba defeated Kaunda in 1991, Sata became one of Zambia’s most instantly recognizable faces. Under the MMD, he served as minister for local government, labor and, briefly, health where, he boasts, his “reforms brought sanity to the health system”.

In 1995, he was appointed as minister without portfolio, the party’s national organizing secretary during which his political style was described as “increasingly abrasive”.

Formation of Patriotic Front

In 2001, President Chiluba nominated Levy Mwanawasa as the MMD’s presidential candidate for the 2001 election. In frustration, Sata left the MMD and set up a new party, the Patriotic Front (PF). He contested the 2001 election but did not do well—his party only won one seat in parliament. Sata conceded defeat and continued campaigning.

2006 election and afterwards

Sata contested the September 2006 presidential election as a populist championing the causes of the poor in the face of Mwanawasa’s economic reform policies. While the slate of candidates contesting the election frequently resorted to personal attacks and insults, Sata’s remarks were at times quite equally scathing. At one campaign event in particular, Sata was reported to have ripped apart a cabbage in front of his supporters. The cabbage was a reference to Mwanawasa’s speech impediment, which was the result of an injury sustained in a 1992 car crash. He has also accused Mwanawasa of “selling out” Zambia to international interests, and at one event, he referred to Hong Kong as a country and Taiwan as a sovereign state. In response, China, which is interested in Zambia’s copper reserves, threatened to cut off relations with Zambia if he was elected. Sata’s right hand man in the campaign was Dr. Guy Scott, the Patriotic Front secretary general. Scott is a white Zambian politician. He served a number of ministerial positions during the Chiluba government. Sata also received the public backing of Chiluba.

Initial results from the election gave Sata the lead, but further results put Mwanawasa in first place and pushed Sata into third place. Interim results released after votes from 120 of 150 constituencies were counted put Mwanawasa on just over 42% of the vote; Hakainde Hichilema had 28%; and the Michael Sata had slipped to 27%. When opposition supporters heard that Sata had slipped from first to third place, riots erupted in Lusaka. On 2 October, the Zambian Electoral Commission announced that Mwanawasa had officially won the election; final results put Sata in second place with about 29% of the vote.

Sata was arrested in early December 2006, accused of making a false declaration of his assets when applying to run for president in August, along with other charges. He was questioned by police and released on bail. If convicted, he could have received a prison sentence of least two years. As a convict, he would also be unable to hold public office. Sata said the charges were politically motivated, and in court he pleaded not guilty to them. On 14 December, the charges were dropped on the grounds that the declaration of assets was not made under oath.

On 15 March 2007, Sata was deported from Malawi shortly after arrival. Sata said that he was only there to meet with the business community, and alleged that the Zambian government had effected the deportation by falsely claiming that Sata was in Malawi to assist that country’s former president, Bakili Muluzi. The Zambian government denied this, while the Malawian government gave no explanation for Sata’s deportation. On 6 April, Sata’s lawyer said that he had initiated a lawsuit against the Malawian government for violating his rights.

After losing his passport in London in late 2007, Sata was issued another; however, on 10 November 2007, Minister of Home Affairs Ronnie Shikapwasha announced that Sata’s passport was withdrawn temporarily because he had obtained the new passport without following the necessary procedures and proving that he needed a new passport. Shikapwasha said that an investigation would follow, that Sata had been interrogated, and that he could face arrest.

Sata suffered a heart attack on 25 April 2008 and was evacuated to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he was said to be in stable condition on 26 April. He reconciled with President Mwanawasa in May 2008.

On 31 March 2010 he was interviewed by Christopher Hopkins from Oxford University.

Mwanawasa’s death and the 2008 election

After Mwanawasa suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in France, Sata questioned the official claims about Mwanawasa’s health on 15 July 2008, and he called for a team of doctors to be sent by the Cabinet to examine Mwanawasa; this team would then disclose Mwanawasa’s actual condition. Mwanawasa died in office in August 2008. On 25 August, Sata attempted to attend funeral proceedings for Mwanawasa at Chipata in Eastern Province; however, Maureen Mwanawasa, Mwanawasa’s widow, ordered Sata to leave, saying that he was politicizing the event and that he had never reconciled with Mwanawasa’s family. Sata, who was removed from the scene by security, said that he was only there to mourn Mwanawasa and that he had hoped to escort the body while it was taken to provincial capitals across Zambia; he maintained that his reconciliation with Mwanawasa himself was sufficient to justify his presence. He also said that Maureen Mwanawasa had acted inappropriately.

Sata was unanimously chosen as the PF’s candidate for the presidential by-election at a meeting of its Central Committee on 30 August 2008. Accepting the nomination, he expressed the need “to scrub this country and wash it”; he also said that he would refrain from campaigning until after Mwanawasa’s funeral. Despite his April 2008 heart attack, Sata said that he was healthy and in good condition.

Sata said that he would not accept a victory for Banda because there was “no way MMD can win”, and he alleged that the Electoral Commission and the police were working together to rig the election. Although he held the lead in early vote counting, which reflected his strong support in urban areas, his lead grew smaller as votes from rural areas were counted. In the end, Banda overtook Sata, and final results on 2 November showed Banda with 40% of the vote against 38% for Sata. Sata subsequently stated that he had not been defeated and accused Banda of fraud.

2011 election

Satan ran for President for a fourth time in the election held on 20 September 2011. In the early stages of the campaign the catholic church helped him alot with his campaigning which resulted in him winning the elections in 2011.

 

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