Namibia’s former Presidents Samuel Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, and Botswana’s former President Festus Mogae have returned to their respective countries after attending Dr. Kenneth Kaunda’s 95th birthday.
ZANIS reports that the visiting former presidents were seen off by Zambia’s fourth republican president Rupiah Banda and other senior government officials.
Earlier in the day the visiting former Presidents who were led by former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano who is the Chairperson of the Africa Forum laid wreaths at the mausoleums of Zambia’s fallen Presidents.
This was at the Presidential burial site at the embassypark and later paid a courtesy call on President Edgar Lungu at State house.
And Former South African President Jacob Zumba has described Zambia’s Founding President Kenneth Kaunda as a symbol of dedication to the complete decolonisation of Africa.
Mr Zuma said Dr Kaunda put the country on the path of development and peace.
On the occasion to celebrate Dr Kaunda’s 95th birthday, Mr Zuma said Dr Kaunda inspired all the freedom fighters in the region and beyond.
Below is Mr Zuma’s full statement
Today we celebrate the 95th birthday of one of the greatest leaders of our people in the struggle to liberate the continent of Africa from colonialism and imperialism.
President Kenneth Kaunda led the sister people of Zambia to independence from Britain in 1964.
His government embarked on an ambitious program to raise the quality of life of his people especially in the field of education.
He understood better that the freedom of Zambia was incomplete without the liberation of the rest of the region and the continent at large.
At great cost to the country he did not flinch from providing material and diplomatic support and sanctuary to the liberation struggles led by the African National Congress of South Africa, Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, South West African People’s Organization, as well as the Zimbabwe African People’s Union and Zimbabwe African National Union.
It was from Zambia that the combined forces of Umkhonto WeSizwe, the military wing of the ANC together with the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army of ZAPU, infiltrated then Southern Rhodesia to fight the occupation army of the settler regime led by Ian Smith and supported by the Apartheid regime of South Africa in the Wanki and Sipolilo Campaigns in 1967 and 1968.
Under his leadership the Zambian government embarked on a systematic program of nationalizing key industries that were wholly owned by foreign companies.
These measures for full national sovereignty were however disrupted by a sharp drop in the international price of copper which was by far the main source of foreign exchange.
The economic transformation of the country was dealt a mortal blow as Zambia was force-fed with the poisonous prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund, including the requirement to scale back on investment in human development.
To minimise dependence on South African ports and harbours the government of Zambia was compelled to construct the TAZARA rail line to Dar es Salaam with the support of China.
President Kaunda inspired all the freedom fighters in the region and beyond.
He is a symbol of dedication to the complete decolonisation of Africa and putting on the path of development and peace.
Zambia was home from home for many leaders and combatants of Umkhonto WeSizwe between various deployments. Late President Oliver Tambo operated from Lusaka for over two decades.
Together with Presidents Muwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana President Kaunda founded the Frontline States that were later joined by Angola an Mozambique in 1975 and Zimbabwe in 1979.
Such was the stature of President Kaunda that the Apartheid regime of John Vorster tried to win him over in its plans to maintain its grip on South and South West Africa/Namibia. He made it clear that his support for freedom for the sister people of these countries was unshakeable.
President Kaunda is a recipient of the South African National Order of Companions of Oliver Tambo in Gold for exceptional contribution in the struggle against apartheid and for justice in the southern African region.
We who come after him have benefited and continue to draw from his wisdom, generosity and steadfastness in belief in humanism and building a better Africa and a better world.
Unity, peace and development in the Southern African Development community and indeed the continent as a whole is an achievement of great statesmen like President Kaunda and his peers.
As we confront the relentless attempts by imperialistic forces to defeat our revolutions in the region we are happy to have you President Kaunda as a guide and fountain of inspiration to resist their machinations.
We shall continue to strive to silence the guns and build a prosperous Africa.
We join the leaders and sister people of Zambia to wish Good Health!
Long may you live and inspire many