The President of Zambia, Michael Chilufya Sata has died in a London hospital on Tuesday, it has been reported in the media. The ‘ King Cobra’ as he was affectionately known in Zambia, had gone to the United Kingdom to receive treatment for an undisclosed illness. According to a private television station, Muzi Television Station, the country’s cabinet was preparing to meet to consider the effect of the news on the nation. However, government officials refused to give a comment about the state of affairs in the landlocked country.
Michael Sata has been ill for some time and there have been instances when the government officials have disputed the fact. The rumours mounted to a crescendo following the incident when he missed a scheduled UN address in New York. There was speculation that he had fallen ill in his New York hotel. On returning to Zambia, he officiated at the opening of the parliament and jokingly told those gathered that he was not dead. Apart from this one time, he had not been seen in public since the return from New York. However, on 19 October, it emerged that he had travelled to London accompanied by his wife and family members. He was admitted to London’s King Edward VII hospital. The illness was, however, not disclosed.
Back home, there has been a huge media blanket over the issue of Sata’s health or lack thereof. The country’s deputy president, Mr Edgar Lungu has been in charge, leading the country’s anniversary celebrations to mark 50 years since their independence from Britain.
Born in 1937, Michael Sata was brought up in the Mpika province of Zambia and worked as a policeman, railway man and trade unionist in the pre- independence era of his country. He also worked briefly in London, sweeping railway platforms. He started his political career with the party that wrested rule from their colonial masters, UNIP before joining the trade union inspired party, the Movement for Multi-party Democracy, which was headed by Fredrick Chiluba. At the time of his death, he was the leader of the Patriotic Front. He headed several ministries like health, local government and labour. He is survived by his wife, Christine Kaseba and several children.