FOUNDING Zambian leader President Kenneth David Kaunda, who died yesterday at the age of 97, is said to have written a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa but failed to sign it when his health deteriorated a few days ago.
Kaunda succumbed to pneumonia at at Lusaka military hospital and Zambia has since declared 21 days of mourning for the liberation hero.
The letter in question was hand delivered to President Mnangagwa by Vermon J Mwaanga at the time Kaunda was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Centre in Lusaka.
According to a report by the State-owned Herald, 82-year-old Zambian diplomat and former Ambassador to the UN, Vermon J Mwaanga, handed the letter to President Mnangagwa in its unsigned form.
Not much is revealed about the contents of the letter, except that Kaunda affectionately referred to Mnangagwa as his “nephew” and wished him “heavenly blessings in everything that he does for Zimbabwe and its people”.
The unsigned letter is said to be dated 9 June.
“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.
“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,” President Kaunda said in his letter.
Kaunda ruled Zambia from 1964 to 1991. He was among the last giants of Pan-Africanism who were at the forefront in fighting colonialists.
In his condolence message to Zambian President Edgar Lungu, President Mnangagwa 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.
Kaunda hosted Zimbabwe’s liberation war armies Zanla and Zipra in the 1970s as they wages guerrilla war against the Ian Smith colonial government. However, the Zanla which was under Zanu was subsequently kicked out of Zambia and its leaders jailed following the assassination of Hebert Chitepo in 1975.