Guy Scott, who was Sata’s vice president, takes over the reins from his boss and close friend after Sata died in London while undergoing treatment for an unknown illness. Scott is the first white president in Africa since 1994, when South African President Frederik W. de Klerk lost to Nelson Mandela.
Since the Zambian constitution calls for a new election within 90 days and says a candidate’s parents must have been born in Zambia — Scott’s parents were born in the UK — it’s not clear whether he can run to keep the seat. Scott, 70, was born in 1944 in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia, which became Zambia after the nation won its independence from Britain 50 years ago.
Of a population of 13 million people, there are only about 40,000 whites in Zambia, a land-locked country in southern Africa surrounded by Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. But The Telegraph describes the Cambridge-educated Scott as “genuinely popular,” whose choice as Sata’s deputy was not considered a surprise. Still, there were many Zambians who weren’t pleased by the idea that the country could possibly be led by a white man if the president died.
When Scott was agriculture minister in the 1990s, he is credited with rescuing the nation from a food crisis caused by drought.
“I don’t think Michael thought it was a racial thing, he just thought it was a good idea,” Scott told The Telegraph in 2012 about his selection as Sata’s deputy. “I’ve been involved in politics here for a long time. As a schoolboy I was involved in the liberation movement.”
“You see people’s jaws drop, they think there’s been a mistake with the seating plan or something,” he said, describing a common reaction to him. “A white Zambian but not representing white interests, that’s the point.”