JUST before he was hospitalised, founding Zambian leader President Kenneth Kaunda, who died yesterday at the age of 97, penned an emotional letter to President Mnangagwa whom he affectionately referred to as his “nephew” wishing him heavenly blessings in everything that he does for Zimbabwe and its people.
However, after falling sick, the late veteran nationalist could not sign the letter that is dated June 9, which was subsequently hand-delivered to President Mnangagwa by Mr Vermon J Mwaanga recently.
“First and foremost, let me send greetings and convey my best wishes to you and your family members. I pray the Good Lord Almighty to keep you safe and healthy in this difficult time of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Thank you for your happy birthday message and for the generous cash you made available to me through my young man, Vermon J Mwaanga, whom I have charged with the responsibility of hand delivering this letter to you in person. I can never thank you enough. I can only ask God our Creator to continue blessing you abundantly and guide you in everything you do for your country and people,” reads the letter in part.
President Mnangagwa, who was deported to Zambia after his release from Khami Prison in 1972 because records showed that he was supposed to be in that neighbouring country, is fond of Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour where many liberation war movements were sheltered as the nationalists intensified efforts to remove minority white rule in the region.
“I have fond and proud memories of your dedicated fight against colonialism and oppression. This will remain part of your lasting legacy. My warm regards to my daughter-in-law Mrs Mnangagwa,” Dr President Kaunda said in his heartfelt letter.
The Zambian founding father who ruled Zambia from 1964 to 1991, died at a hospital in Lusaka where he was being treated for pneumonia.
He was among the last giants of Pan-Africanism who were at the forefront in fighting colonialists. His death triggered an outpouring of grief from across the globe.
In his condolence message to Zambian President Edgar Lungu, the President said Africa has been robbed of an exemplary Father who selflessly helped liberate Southern Africa.
“It was with a sense of shock and deep sorrow that I learnt of the passing on of His Excellency Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the founding President of the Republic of Zambia. The passing on of this renowned Pan Africanist and elder statesman has robbed the Kaunda family of an exemplary Father, an astute politician, and leader whose immense contribution to the liberation of Southern African countries from colonial rule is well documented and acknowledged by the international community.
“On behalf of the people of Zimbabwe, and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to convey our most sincere condolences to you, and through you to the Kaunda family, the Government, and people of Zambia, on this sad loss,” said the President.
Zambia declared 21 days of mourning for the liberation hero, who was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka on Monday.