Zambia President’s Visit to Israel Raises Questions About Health

Zambian Vice President Guy Scott was questioned in Parliament about President Michael Sata’s unannounced trip to Israel amid reports that he is seeking medical treatment there.

Lawmakers in the capital, Lusaka, today asked Scott why the government failed to provide details of Sata’s visit until two days after he left the country. Scott said Sata, 76, is on a “working holiday” in Israel, declining to respond to rumors of ill health.

“If you wish to believe some other fantastical tale then go ahead and enjoy it,” Scott said in Parliament, when asked to provide video proof that the president is in Israel. “But he is in Israel.”

Local media have questioned why Sata would visit Israel when that country’s leader, Shimon Peres, is in the U.S. on a state visit. Zambia Watchdog, a newsblog, said on June 23 Sata is receiving medical care at a cancer treatment center in Tel Aviv.

“The Israeli president is aware of President Sata’s presence in Israel and may in due course meet him when it is convenient for both presidents,” Scott said. “That is all I can say, sir, without venturing into the fantasy world of the Zambian social media and its necrophiliac correspondents and editors.”

Sata was elected as president of Africa’s second-largest copper producer in 2011. His waning health has led to a succession battle within the ruling Patriotic Front before general elections in 2016, Clare Allenson, an analyst at Eurasia Group Ltd., said in a note to clients on Jan. 8.

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