Guy Scott: Wrong on Rights

Just when you thought that the Patriotic Front government of President Michael Sata couldn’t be worse, his Vice President Guy Scott went out there and proved that yes, it can be worse.

Scott’s now infamous interview with the Guardian in which he spewed hate speech toward the South African people will go down as one of those transformative moments we can look back on when the PF began falling apart.

For what is Scott’s purpose in the party if not be a token curiosity to sing and dance before the media? Any discussion of possible successors tends to focus on the obvious characters like Wynter Kabimba, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, or even for the the dreamers, Given Lubinda. The duties of Dr. Scott’s office are at best ceremonial, performing absolutely no services of governance despite drawing a hefty salary from the taxpayers along with more than 70 other members of President Sata’s bloated cabinet.

We hear that President Sata is very upset with Dr. Scott and asked him to deliver a report on the matter detailing how many cocktails had loosened his tongue. “If someone is going to humiliate Zambia, that’s my job!” – I can imagine President Sata bellowing before Dr. Scott.

The most hypocritical aspect of Scott’s hateful attack against the South Africans was the idea that the current leadership seeks to imitate their former white rulers. This, coming from a guy who works for Michael Sata, a former colonial policeman – a man who actually took a salary from the British to wield a baton over the heads of his brothers and repress the independence movement.

The drunken interview was not an isolated event. Over and over again, Scott has been put in charge of covering up the PF’s unlawful conduct and whitewashing their many abuses of the democratic rights of the opposition.

On Monday May 6, the Post even ran a story quoting Scott, who said that “there were no violations in Zambia warranting international intervention because the country was a functional democracy, where the rule of law, respect for property rights and a free political space were guaranteed in the Constitution.”

Obviously Scott is suffering from delusions. Perhaps he should take a moment to read the recent 2012 Country Report for Human Rights Practices on Zambia by the U.S. State Department, which lists, among other abuses, the repeated arrests of Hakainde Hichilema, Nevers Mumba, as well as the attempted censorship of the Daily Nation through the abuse of libel laws.

We’ve lost count of how many lawsuits and how many millions of dollars President Sata is demanding in order to silence his critics. Is that really “a functional democracy” where rights are respected, Dr Scott?

The reality is that Zambia under the brutal grip of the PF has witnessed a steady deterioration of rights, little to no tolerance for the existence of democratic opposition, and a clear pattern of authoritarian abuses that appears to be leading toward the reconstruction of a one-party state.

Dr Scott should be ashamed for playing a sideshow role in the destruction of the country.

This op/ed by Robert Amsterdam was originally published in the Friday May 12 edition of Daily Nation.

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