The South African government has declared 10 days of national mourning in honour of late Zambia’s first president Kenneth Kaunda, who died yesterday at Maina Soko Military hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.
In a statement to the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria South Africa last evening, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said all flags in his country will fly at half-mast to pay tribute to the fallen leader.
President Ramaposa said South Africa was united with the Zambian people and the Kaunda family during this time of sadness and mourning.
He noted that not only did Dr. Kaunda dedicate his 97 long years to the liberation and service of the people of Zambia, but that he had an unwavering desire for the achievement of South Africa’s freedom and stood with that country during its greatest time of need.
“He devoted himself and the Zambian people to supporting liberation movements around our region in their quest for independence and freedom. Under his leadership, Zambia provided refuge, care and support to liberation fighters who had been forced to flee the countries of their birth,” President Ramaphosa said.
He added that it was in honour of this remarkable contribution that the South African government bestowed on the late president Kaunda the ‘Order of the Companions of OR Tambo’ in 2002.
President Ramaphosa further commended the late Dr. Kaunda for being a pioneering champion of a decolonised, united and prosperous Africa who represented his country and continent with distinction on global platforms.
“Today, we recommit ourselves to building the Africa of KK’s vision-an Africa of peace, justice, prosperity and innovation, today, we place ourselves alongside Kenneth Kaunda’s family and the Zambian nation as they mourn this deep loss,” President Ramaphosa said.
“As the South African nation, we will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude that we owe to President Kaunda,” he said.
And Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Jackson Miti has thanked President Ramaphosa for the 10 days national mourning.
Major General Miti described the gesture as a humbling gesture to the people of Zambia and the family of the late Dr. Kaunda.
Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) group of Ambassadors in Brazil, has described the late Dr. Kaunda as a true liberation icon and selfless leader who sacrificed for the peace and security which the region is enjoying today.
The group, that included ambassadors from Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana, made the remarks at a virtual monthly meeting in Brasilia.
The meeting was chaired by group Chairperson Gamiliel Mungwambe of Mozambique.
The ambassadors said they have learnt with sadness the death of Dr. Kaunda, noting that Africa will live to remember and cherish his immense contribution to the freedom and stability of the continent.
Ambassador Mungwambe further described the death of Dr. Kaunda as a great loss to Africa as he was a gallant leader who played a pivotal role in liberating the SADC region and coordinated all efforts of states to value its freedom.
And Zambia’s Ambassador to Brazil Alfreda Mwamba has described the late Dr. Kaunda as a great leader who worked tirelessly to free Africa from colonial rule.
Dr. Mwamba said Dr. Kaunda had run a good race and his labour and sacrifice for Zambia, the entire SADC region and Africa remain a legacy in world history.
The SADC Ambassadors in Brasilia are expected to visit the Zambian Chancery to sign a book of condolences in honour of the late Dr. Kaunda who died at the age of 97 yesterday.