ANC salutes Kaunda for giving refuge to fellow Africans
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Pretoria – South Africa’s ruling ANC has paid tribute to former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, saluting him for opening up his country’s borders for countless fellow Africans and giving them refuge when they fled from oppressive regimes at home.
The revered African statement died aged 97 on Thursday after being hospitalised with pneumonia.
In a statement, ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said his death was a sad moment for the continent at large.
“A giant of the liberation struggle of South Africa and the continent has fallen. Dr Kaunda holds a special place in the hearts of our movement, our country and the South African people,” Mabe said.
“He opened up Zambia and made it the home and headquarters of the ANC for over 30 years. This was a demonstration of his belief that Zambia would not be free until sister countries in the continent that were still under the yoke of colonial oppression were free.”
The ANC said southern Africa’s story of liberation from colonial rule could never be complete without a full acknowledgement of the central role played by Zambia and Kaunda.
“The ANC and many other liberation movements, including Frelimo of Mozambique, the MPLA of Angola, ZAPU and ZANU of Zimbabwe and SWAPO of Namibia, conducted their struggles against colonialism and apartheid hosted by Zambia. The hosting of these liberation movements came at a great price to Zambia,” Mabe said.
South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party hailed Kaunda for his stance against xenophobia, which has often reared its head in the country in recent years as locals lash out against foreigners from the continent, accusing them of crime and “stealing jobs”, among other grievances.
“Zambia accommodated several of Africa’s liberation movements, including South Africa’s governing African National Congress, giving them a home away from home because Kaunda firmly stood against xenophobia,” EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said in an interview on local television.
Kaunda was the first democratically elected president of Zambia after gaining independence from Britain in 1964. He was in power for 27 years before ceding power to Frederick Chiluba in the southern African country’s first multi-party elections in 1991.
“The education that Zambia was providing was not for Zambians only. There are so many people who went to the University of Zambia.
’’There are so many professors here in South Africa who had a relationship with the University of Zambia – people like Professor Magubane from South Africa had a role at the University of Zambia because it was a home for all Africans, and all freedom fighters,” Shivambu said.
“Everyone who went to Zambia felt at home. That legacy is still there in Zambia. You will never have incidents of xenophobia in Zambia.
’’Everyone is welcomed in Zambia. They accommodate everyone in Zambia and appreciate that we are one people in Africa and on the entire continent.”
In announcing Kaunda’s death on Thursday, Zambian President Edgar Lungu declared 21 days of national mourning in honour of the country’s founding father.
During the mourning period all activities of an entertainment nature will be suspended and all flags will fly at half mast.
African News Agency (ANA)