Zambian President Michael Sata has been ill for some time now, he had a heart attack in 2008 and left the country for a “health check” earlier this month. When he missed the country’s 50th independence anniversary (October 24th) the people were saying that it was only a matter of time before he died.
Well that day was yesterday, where he died in a London hospital at the age of 77. This story is not very notable as African leaders often leave their countries for emergency care in European hospitals (for example Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi died in a Belgium hospital 2 years ago). What is interesting is that the vice president Guy Scott is now the new leader of Zambia.
Guy Scott is a born and raised white Zambian (when it was then “Northern Rhodesia”), which makes him the first white leader of an African democracy…ever.
Actually, it’s not clear that this is so. Zambia’s Vice-President doesn’t automatically assume the Presidency upon the death or disability of the President; further, the Defense Minister had been running the country during Sata’s illness, and there may be a constitutional bar to Scott serving as President. See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29813612
Well, yes that is a matter of debate as racial categories are social constructions thus dictated by personal norms. However neither the King or Morocco nor the President of Egypt had European born parents but locally born ones (unlike Guy Scott).
This all depends on who you talk to. Jerry Rawlings, former president of Ghana, had a Scottish father. Where we in the States consider someone half-black to be black (Obama, for example), in Africa, it’s sort of the reverse. Rawlings’ detractors used to call him “that white bastard.” Ian Khama, the new president of Botswana, is also half-white, on his mother’s side.
Zambia is a stable country with no coups, but Scott is only “acting-President” so he’s in charge just until an election is held (within 3 months). An election he cannot run for due to both his parents being born outside the country.