MESSAGES of condolences and tributes have continued to pour following the death of First Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda who died in Lusaka on Thursday after an illness.
Dr Kaunda died aged 97. He was admitted to Maina Soko Military Hospital after an illness.
President Edgar Lungu led the way in paying tributes to the iconic leader who ruled Zambia for 27 years after the country’s independence in 1964.
“I learnt of your passing this afternoon with great sadness,” President Lungu said. “You have gone at a time we least expected but we are comforted that you are now with Our Father, God Almighty in heaven.
“On behalf of the entire nation and on my own behalf I pray that the entire Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn our First President and true African icon. May the soul of Dr Kenneth David Kaunda Rest in Eternal Peace.”
President Lungu has since declared 21 days of national mourning in honor of the iconic leader.
Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to Dr Kaunda whom he described as a champion of South Africa’s liberation.
Dr Ramaposa who declared 10 days of the national morning in honour of Dr Kaunda, extended his condolences to the Kaunda family and the government as well as the Zambian people.
“We are united in our sadness with the Kaunda family and the government and people of the Republic of Zambia,” President Ramaphosa said. “We are united in our sadness with the people of our region and continent, to whom Kenneth Kaunda’s leadership was a source of inspiration and resilience.”
The South African President said President Kaunda dedicated his 97 long years to the liberation and service of the people of Zambia.
“Steadfast against the intimidation of the apartheid state, he offered Lusaka as the headquarters of the African National Congress in exile. Under his leadership, Zambia provided refuge, care and support to liberation fighters who had been forced to flee the countries of their birth,” he said.
And Botswana President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has described Dr Kaunda as his country’s best friend during the worst moments when the country was battling to find itself during the hard times of early independence.
Dr Masisi said in a statement issued by his Communications Permanent Secretary Andrew Sesinyi that Dr Kaunda was an iconic statesman of the highest credentials and selfless dedication to the interest of his own country as well as the wellbeing of neighbours and humanitarian at large
The Botswana leader has since declared seven days of national mourning in honour of the late Dr Kaunda.
And Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera says Dr Kaunda was a great statesman who championed the spirit of togetherness.
In a post on his official Facebook page, Dr Chakwera said Kaunda’s life is intertwined with the history of Malawi’s independence from the time Kaunda, alongside Malawi’s first President Kamuzu Banda fought against colonialist.
“Through his passing we have lost a part of history, a renegade, a pan-Africanist, and a friend of our country who never tired in wishing us well through his counsel and goodwill.
“I therefore join all Heads of State and citizens of Africa and beyond in mourning the loss of this great statesman, who championed the spirit of togetherness, and represented the last of his generation of pioneer freedom fighters in Sub-Saharan Africa through his mantra “tiyende pamodzi ndi mtima umodzi”,” President Chakwera said.
Meanwhile, President Emerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwean has described Dr Kaunda as a renowned pan-Africanist, astute politician and leader not only to Zambia but the rest of Africa.
“The passing on of this renowned pan-Africanist and elder stateman, has robbed the Kaunda family and the people of Zambia and indeed the rest of Africa of an exemplary father and astute politician and leader, whose immense contribution to the liberation of Southern African countries from colonial rule is documented and acknowledged by the international community.
“On behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to convey our most sincere condolences to you, and through you to the Kaunda family, the Government, and people of Zambia, on this sad loss,” said the President.