Saturday, July 20, 2024

Simon Zukas has died aged 96


Simon Zukas, one of Zambia’s independence heroes and most admired figures, has died aged 96. He passed away at 21:05 pm. Zukas was one of the proponents of the reintroduction of multi-party politics and held several positions in the MMD government.

His family state that funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Mr Zukas and his family came from pre-war Lithuania to what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia because it did not employ quotas limiting Jewish settlers — unlike South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe.

He later joined the territory’s struggle for independence and today remains a standard-bearer for its small Jewish community as chairman of the Council for Zambian Jewry, an umbrella organisation.

Mr Zukas’s schooling took him to the University of Cape Town, where he studied civil engineering. His time there coincided with the inauguration of apartheid, which thrust him into radical student politics and inspired him to join the main nationalist movement, the African National Congress, when he returned to Northern Rhodesia.

An active participant in the country’s struggle for independence, he was eventually deported to Britain but, following statehood, was invited in 1965 to return by the new country’s president, Kenneth Kaunda.

By now a qualified engineer running a successful consultancy in England, Mr Zukas said he moved back to offer his professional expertise in major infrastructure projects.

A career in politics also followed: his efforts to persuade Mr Kaunda and his United National Independence Party to abandon a one-party state failed and, in 1990, he joined the drive towards multi-party politics, playing a leading role in its subsequent return.

Mr Zukas was most recently leader of the Forum for Democracy and Development, an opposition political party. He retired from politics in 2005.


  1. Transition for the old lion. Died peacefully in his sleep at the ripe age of 96. Will be missed by his family but remembered lovingly by fellow engineers and lovers of history for his memior INTO EXILE AND BACK. Condolences to Cynthia his wife of many, many years and msy his soul rest in peace.

  2. Death is always painful, no matter the age. Condolences to the family. The life is worth celebrating as it was lived to the fullest

  3. Simon Zukas deserves a hero’s send off. I can say he was a man caught in between. At the time he decided to join hands with blacks to fight colonialism, many black folks didn’t trust the whites and whites considered colleagues like Simon as traitors. As a Jew, he was a hunted man. He always watched his back. So you can imagine what he withstood. I urge Bally to grant him all the honours befitting his status. Simon Zukas was a great compatriot, a son of the soil. Rest in peace gallant soldier. You never dithered when it came to stand up for what was right. Condolences to the family, your legacy shall live on. Was he involved in the Chilufya Sata School of Medicine? Very likely

  4. A great man and a pillar of Zambian democracy.
    A staunch fighter against British colonial rule.
    Fled as a boy with his family escaping antisemitism .
    Africa gave him a shelter without which he would be murdered by the Germans in the Holocaust.

  5. Condolences to Cynthia and family on this sad episode. Simon Zukas was a great but softly spoken man who bravely dedicated his life to justice, fairness and was always on the side of the down trodden. He fought violations of human rights, racism, tribalism, tyranny and other social vices right to his last breath. MHSRP. Lets hope government will name a national entity of significance after his name so as to remaind generations to come on what he stood for.

  6. Jigga Kayama Simangulungwa (formerly Corruption scandals: 48 Houses Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans Honeybee) Jigga Kayama Simangulungwa (formerly Corruption scandals: 48 Houses Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans Honeybee)

    Rest In Peace Simon Zukas… integrity and honour. You knew much earlier that segregation based on skin colour and ethnic background was wrong and you fought for equality when others did the opposite. We have a lot to learn from you Mr Zukas.

  7. Zamaya hande Simon Zukas. Your contributions to Liuwa constituency and the government will forever be remembered.

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