FORMER Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda who died on June 17 stood against all odds in the fight for the liberation of southern African nations including Zimbabwe which came at a cost to the economy of Zambia and also inspired the youths to be patriotic, President Mnangagwa said.
In his message in the book of condolences for Dr Kaunda, which he signed yesterday at the Zambian Embassy, the President described Zambia’s founding father as his mentor who inspired young people in the 1960s to stand up against colonial injustices.
The relationship between President Mnangagwa and Dr Kaunda was so close that the former Zambian president affectionately referred to his mentee as a nephew.
In recognition of the role that Dr Kaunda played, President Mnangagwa declared 14 days of mourning with the country’s flags flying at half-mast during the period.
“On behalf of the people and Government of Zimbabwe and indeed my own and family behalf I wish to express my deepest grief and sincere condolences on the passing on of my political mentor and leader, the last surviving father of the OAU (Organisation of African Union) and first President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, known as KK.
“Dr Kaunda was an iconic Pan-Africanist and statesman on our African continent who inspired us, the young generation in the early 1960s, to be patriotic about our countries and be proud that we are Africans.”
The President, who cut his teeth in politics as a youth in the Zambian liberation party UNIP, which was led by the late Dr Kaunda, as he pursued his studies in Zambia, wrote about his early days as a politically conscious young man.
“I joined UNIP in 1959 when I was at Hodgson Technical College and had the rare opportunity from then on to work very closely with Dr Kaunda until I left Zambia joining the liberation movements of then Rhodesia.
“I am happy that Dr Kaunda’s last letter to me was written on June 9, 2021, calling me Dear Mr President and my dear nephew, just before he went to the hospital. I shall forever cherish this letter.
“For us Zimbabweans, Dr Kaunda stood against the odds of the Ian Smith regime and South Africa at the cost of the economy of the Republic of Zambia. I am happy that this sacrifice resulted in the freedom and independence of southern Africa.
“Zimbabwe has declared 14 days of mourning in honour of Dr Kaunda, our continental Pan-African icon. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” said President Mnangagwa.
In his letter to President Mnangagwa, Dr Kaunda wrote that he had “fond and proud memories of your dedicated fight against colonialism and oppression. This will remain part of your lasting legacy. My warm regards to my daughter-in-law, Mrs Mnangagwa.”
After gaining its independence from the British in 1964, Zambia which was known as Northern Rhodesia with Zimbabwe being Southern Rhodesia offered liberation movements such as ZANU and ZAPU a platform to launch their offensive against the white settler minority government.
In the process, its towns and infrastructure were bombarded but Dr Kaunda never wavered in his steadfast support for the liberation cause.
Dr Kaunda will be buried on July 7 at the country’s presidential burial site situated opposite the Cabinet office in Lusaka.
The burial will be preceded by a State memorial to be held at the city’s 60 000-seat National Heroes Stadium on July 2.
Ahead of the funeral, Dr Kaunda’s remains will be transported to the country’s 10 provinces starting Wednesday for people to pay their last respects to Zambia’s founding president, who ruled from 1964 until 1991.