Zambian ex-president Rupiah Banda’s burial set for March 18

By MICHAEL CHAWE

Zambia’s former president Rupiah Banda, who died Friday, will be buried on March 18 at the Presidential Burial Site, Embassy Park, in the capital Lusaka, the government has announced.

The government will hold a State funeral on March 17 at the Lusaka Showground. Foreign heads of state and government are scheduled to attend.

President Hakainde Hichilema declared a seven-day period of national mourning in honour of Banda for his contribution to the nation.

Banda, Zambia’s fourth president, ruled the country between 2008 and 2011 before the late Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front took over.

Banda was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago.

Born in the then Southern Rhodesia, Banda entered the political fray at a tender age, and participated in Zambia’s struggle for independence.  

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He used to tell a story of how colonial masters cornered him and imprisoned him for delivering mail to liberation fighters.  

After Zambia’s independence from Britain in 1964, he held a series of diplomatic posts.  

The country’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda appointed him Zambia’s first Ambassador to Egypt at the age of 27.

At 30 years of age, he was appointed Zambia’s ambassador to the United States.

After the 2006 general election, he was appointed Zambia’s vice-president by the late Levy Mwanawasa.

He would ascend to Mwanawasa’s presidential responsibilities after the then incumbent suffered a stroke in June 2008 while on assignment in Egypt.

Following Mwanawasa’s death in August 2008, Banda became acting president. He then narrowly beat Michael Sata in a snap election. Sata, however, beat him in the September 2011 presidential polls.

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