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Zambia: Appointment of White Vice President Causes Online Buzz

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. Guys 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.

Zambia's new Vice President Guy Scott. Image from the ruling Patriotic Front website.

Zambia's new Vice President Guy Scott. Image from the ruling Patriotic Front website.

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:
@missbwalya wondered:

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.

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