Zambia’s former president Rupiah Banda dies

By MICHAEL CHAWE

Former Zambian President Rupiah Banda, 85, died at his home in Lusaka on Friday after a battle with colon cancer.

Banda, Zambia’s fourth president, who ruled the country between 2008  and 2011 before the late Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front took over, was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago.

His son Andrew Banda told a local radio station that his father succumbed after a struggle with colon cancer. The death was also confirmed by President Hakainde Hichilema.

Mr Banda had asked Zambians to pray for him in the last few days he appeared in public.

Struggle for independence

Born in the then Southern Rhodesia, Banda entered the political fray at a tender age. He 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 mails to liberation fighters.  

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

Zambia’s founding late president Kenneth Kaunda appointed him Zambia’s first Ambassador to Egypt at 27. At 30, he was appointed Zambia’s ambassador to the United States.

Locally, he served as the country’s chief for the grain marketing company then called National Agricultural Marketing Board.

In 1974, he became the country’s permanent representative to the UN. He also served as foreign minister from 1975. 

He also served as president of the UN Council on Namibia. He also served as Member of Parliament for Munali in Lusaka as well as senior district governor for the capital.

After the United National Independence Party-UNIP lost power to MMD in 1991 in a multi-party election, Mr Banda and his associated mounted opposition to the new party in power. The independence party, however lost steam before he retired.

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 narrowly beat Mr Micheal Sata in a snap election. Sata, however, beat him in the September 2011 polls.

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