By Farirai Machivenyika recently in LUSAKA, Zambia
The body of former Zambian first lady Ms Betty Kaunda (83) who died in Harare on Wednesday was yesterday repatriated to Zambia.
It was accompanied by Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Ndiyoyi Mutiti, relatives, a representative of the Mozambican community in Zimbabwe Ms Esmeralda Masingue and senior Zimbabwe Government and Zanu-PF officials.
The body was received at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport by Zambian President Mr Michael Sata, his deputy Mr Guy Scott, senior Zambian government officials and hundreds of mourners.
The Zimbabwean delegation comprised Zanu-PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche. Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo, Politburo members Kumbirai Kangai, Oppah Muchinguri and Victoria Chitepo also accompanied the body.
In his condolence message to Dr Kaunda, Khaya Moyo said Zimbabwe shared with the Zambians and the Kaunda family their loss.
“On behalf of my delegation, this development has disturbed all of us. Our President (Mugabe) left (for New York) last night (Wednesday) a very disturbed man and he thought it prudent that we accompany you with the body of our mother across the Zambezi (River). This burden is not an easy burden to carry that is why we want to assist you in carrying it,” he said.
Khaya Moyo said a lot of Zimbabwean leaders grew under Kaunda’s mentorship.
“A lot of us grew up under your guidance in this country and she was always there for you. What has happened here are the actions of the almighty and as they say he gives and he takes. We know you taught us a lot of things to do and not to do and our mother as a loving person was not only a mother to your family, but to all of us. She gave you strength to propel the struggle against oppression for your country and the rest of Africa.”
Dr Kaunda thanked Zimbabwe and Sadc for its assistance during the bereavement.
“On behalf of my family, I want to say how grateful we are about how my dear lady has been treated by the whole of Southern Africa. In South Africa they sent the Speaker of the province (Gauteng) where I was when she died, (Mrs Thandiwe Maseko) and provided a plane for me and my delegation and President Mugabe came to console me and my colleagues at the airport before he left.
“All of you have provided a lot of things including the plane that brought us here (Air Zimbabwe). This is an amazing expression of genuine love for our people. You have spent so much time and so much money to bring her body here,” he said.
Dr Kaunda urged Zimbabweans not to be swayed in their pursuit for self determination.
“I am grateful Cde National Chairman (Khaya Moyo) please continue to do what you are doing. I am very proud of what you are doing in Zimbabwe. They tried to divide you but you fought hard and now you are united so please continue,” he said.
He said burial arrangements would be announced in due course. Before the body left Harare, a church service led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chaplain General Colonel Joseph Nyakudya was held at a local funeral parlour.
Minister of State Security Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu, acting ZDF commander Air Marshall Perrance Shiri and other senior military officers also attended the service.
At the service, Dr Kaunda thanked Zimbabweans for their good neighbourliness and sang a song for his departed wife.
He said she had provided for their family during times he was jailed during their struggle for independence. Mrs Kaunda died at her daughter’s house in Borrowdale Brooke in her sleep on Wednesday morning. She is survived by a husband, 10 children, 30 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. The Herald
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