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Mnangagwa attends Rupiah Banda's funeral

by Staf reporter
18 Mar 2022 at 05:35hrs | Views
President Mnangagwa yesterday attended the State funeral of former Zambian President Rupiah Banda, whom he described as a regional icon and a pan-Africanist who wanted to see illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West being lifted.

The President returned home later in the day and was welcomed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Public Service Commission chairperson Dr Vincent Hungwe, Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution Oliver Chidau, service chiefs and Government officials.

Before addressing the mourners, President Mnangagwa signed the Book of Condolences that was opened at Lusaka Showgrounds, the venue of the State funeral, and was then welcomed by Zambian President Hikainde Hichilema.

After his address, President Mnangagwa participated in viewing the body of former President Banda that was placed at the centre of the stadium at the showgrounds.

There was a 21-gun salute in honour of President Banda.

In Zambia, President Mnangagwa was accompanied by Zanu-PF Politburo member Dr Sydney Sekeramayi whose entry into the University of Lund in Sweden was facilitated by former President Banda who was at the time the International Secretary of the Zambia Students' Union.

Former President Banda was also studying at Lund at the time Dr Sekeramayi enrolled.

Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Professor Amon Murwira was also part of President Mnangagwa's delegation.

Addressing the mourners, who included current and former heads of state and government, President Mnangagwa said the people of Zimbabwe shared with Zambia the grief and sorrow over the passing away of former President Banda.

"I wish to say a bit of background," he said. "The late dear brother and former President Rupiah Banda was born and brought up in Zimbabwe, in the same manner that I was brought up in Zambia.

"And he became President of Zambia as I became President of Zimbabwe. While his passing on maybe particularly felt by you, his fellow countrymen and women for whom he worked so hard with distinction, the people of Zimbabwe also honour his legacy and mourn his loss alongside yourself."

In Zimbabwe, President Mnangagwa said, former President Banda was being remembered as someone who fought against illegal sanctions imposed by the West.

Former President Banda understood that Zambia could not be an island of peace and prosperity if its neighbours like Zimbabwe still battled with instability under Western sanctions, said President Mnangagwa.

"He was indeed dedicated to the beliefs that as members of this great African continent we must develop together with our neighbours and share a prosperous future," he said.

"The late former President's fame and unequivocal call for the unconditional removal of the illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed by some Western countries on Zimbabwe will always be honoured and cherished by the people of Zimbabwe."

President Mnangagwa said former President Banda's "astute leadership will remain a source of inspiration and encouragement to all of us".

"I remember in the early 60s when we were in the youth league of UNIP (United National Independence Party of Zambia), under Dingiswayo Banda, I learnt that my dear brother Rupiah was so humble, but his sophistication was embedded in that simplicity," he said.

"We will forever cherish the extraordinary life of this remarkable statesman who devoted his life to serving Zambia, our region and the African continent."

President Mnangagwa said former President Banda was a pan-Africanist and "among the rare breed of leaders in our region".

"We pay enormous tribute to his active role in the politics and advancing the social economic development of our people, dating back to his days as a member of the United National Independence Party," he said.

"It was UNIP which played an instrumental role in independence and decolonisation of Southern Africa, including Zimbabwe. We also treasure and revere the late former President Banda for the vast knowledge and experience you shared with many of us in the region with regards international relations and economic development."

President Mnangagwa said former President Banda's rich legacy of selflessness and dedication to one's country should be cherished.

"Very few of you are privileged to know that the late former President Rupiah Banda played a significant role behind the curtains in the transition from my learned brother Edgar Lungu to my brother-in-law Hichilema," he said.

"He knew no region, gender, age and class. He was a man of the people and an embodiment of Africa's spirit of Ubuntu. These are traits that must be emulated as we continue in our quest to build the Africa we all want."

President Mnangagwa said the passing on of former President Banda during Zambia's National Youth Day should serve as a constant reminder to the young people in the region of the importance of serving one's country, taking pride in it and advancing its development and prosperity for the people.

"On behalf of the Government and people of Zimbabwe, and indeed on my own behalf, I express my deepest condolences to you Your Excellency and dear brother President Hakainde Hichilema, the bereaved Banda family and the people of Zambia on the untimely passing on of the 4th president of this great nation," said President Mnangagwa.

"My dear brother Rupiah, go well son of Africa, go well son of the soil, go well revolutionary, go well a unifier. May your dear soul former President Rupiah Banda rest in eternal peace."

Also addressing the mourners, President Hichilema urged youths to learn from Africa's founding generation.

"The founding generation is depleting," he said. "The younger generation can only learn from this generation that endured.

"For us as the leaders and to the young people, there can never be any better way of celebrating than embrace peace, unity, love and patriotism that he stood for, and make sure those values are ours."

President Hichilema thanked the leaders who travelled for the State funeral, saying their gesture was a sign of oneness, regional unity and continental unity.

He said former President Banda's 60 years in the public service meant that he had a lot to offer for his country and the continent.

Other speakers at the State funeral included Namibian President Hage Geingob, former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi, former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano and former Botswana President Khama Ian Khama.

Representatives from the African Union, South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Angola also gave their countries' condolences.

Source - The Chronicle