It is with deep sorrow that I have learnt of the passing of H.E. Dr Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda, former President of the Republic of Zambia from her independence in 1964 to 1991. On behalf of SADC, I wish to convey our deepest condolences to the family of Dr Kaunda, and the people and Government of the Republic of Zambia and indeed to the entire region and continent.
A Pan Africanist at heart, Dr Kaunda was the last surviving founding father of SADC and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the fore-runner of the African Union (AU). In this regard, we remember him as a father of the liberation struggle, a visionary who embodied the true values of Pan Africanism, freedom, non-racialism, democracy and the regional integration of Southern Africa.
Through his Philosophy of Humanism, which espoused man-centredness in all spheres of human endeavour, Dr Kaunda symbolized a selfless life ranged at freeing the peoples of the continent from the yokes of colonialism, neo-colonialism and apartheid – and in uplifting their livelihoods, dignity and self-worth.
At tremendous cost to the Zambian economy and the security of the country’s people, Dr Kaunda braved the predations of the white minority Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa regimes to host the liberation movements including the African National Congress (ANC), the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the South West African Peoples Organisation (SWAPO), the Zimbabwe National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), that would eventually bring independence to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and majority rule in South Africa in 1975, 1980, 1990 and 1994, respectively. Dr Kaunda’s vision also greatly contributed to the founding of the Frontline States, the fore-runner of SADC, which was conceived along and established with the late H.E. Sir Seretse Khama of the Republic of Botswana and H.E. Julius Kambarage Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania (URT), H.E. Samora Moises Machel of the Republic of Mozambique, H.E. Dr Agostinho Neto of the Republic of Angola in the early 1970s to lead the liberation struggle for Southern Africa. With the wider involvement of other leaders in Southern Africa, the Frontline States would later transform into the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (SADCC) and eventually into what we today know as SADC, seized with promoting the human development of the peoples of the region through a shared political and economic vision.
In ushering multi-party democracy in Zambia in 1991, and in humbly and peacefully handing over power following the electoral defeat of his United National Independence Party (UNIP), Dr Kaunda provided an important example to future leaders in his country and on the continent on the need to respect the principles of democracy in victory or defeat. This, no doubt, laid a firm foundation for the vibrant democracy that Zambians enjoy today, as well as for the consolidation of multi-party democracy on the African continent. It is hence befitting as Zambians hold their General Elections on 12th August 2021, to not only remember Dr Kaunda’s indelible legacy, but to celebrate it by observing peace and calm in the context of democratic elections, and thus foster the fundamental premise of his Philosophy of Humanism.
SADC wishes to take this opportunity to inform the peoples of the region that in recognition of the sacrifices and their commitment to African political freedom, regional integration and regional economic development, a Mechanism in Honour of the Founders of SADC, which will include a Museum, has been established. In this respect, Dr Kaunda’s legacy, and that of his peers, is being curated in the context of this Mechanism to inspire and model our youth who represent the core and the future of the more than 250 million citizens of the SADC Region.
SADC joins the rest of the continent in celebrating the life and achievements of this great African luminary, and in his honour, the flags at the SADC Headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, shall be flown at half-mast for seven (7) days as a mark of respect for the memory of the former President.
Excellency Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, and Chairperson of SADC
Maputo, Republic of Mozambique, 18 June 2021