By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA and PETER SICHALI
LATE President Kenneth Kaunda should be left to rest at Embassy Park which is a Presidential burial site and is readily accessible to citizens wishing to pay respect and not at State Lodge which is a private property, only accessible to the family or whoever owns title deeds, stakeholders have advised.
Kaweche, one of Dr Kaunda’s sons unsuccessfully challenged the burial of his father at Embassy Park on the late President’s wish to be buried next to his wife Betty at State Lodge.
Stakeholders however said Dr Kaunda was a national leader whose burial must be accessed by all freely.
Bemba chiefs said they would have loved to see Dr Kaunda buried in his motherland, Chinsali but considering his status as a national treasure, it was better for him to lie at Embassy Park.
It was also the wish of 3rd republican President Levy Mwanawasa to be buried at his Palabana farm in Chongwe but being a national leader, his family agreed to bury him at Embassy Park.
Dr Kaunda was laid to rest at Embassy Park yesterday.
“Don’t assault Dr Kaunda’s legacy by trivializing the issue of his burial site, he was not a father to one family but to the nation and the region and it is therefore important that the public has access to his resting place,” Evangelical Youth Alliance Executive Director Reverend Moses Lungu said.
And Bemba chiefs have reaffirmed their support for the burial of Dr Kaunda at Embassy Park, even though they would have equally loved to let him rest in Chinsali, his birth place.
Chief Mpepo said the remains of the former head of State are state property therefore Government is on firm group to bury the late KK at the presidential burial site.
He said the burying of the former head of state at a private property would be unreasonable because it would restrict public access.
He said even traditional leadership in Muchinga would have loved the former head of State to buried in Chinsali where he hails from but have allowed that remains of the former head of state to be buried where other heads of state have been buried to allow for public access.
“The late Dr KK originates from Chinsali and traditional leaders would have loved that he is buried there but because there is already a place designated for sitting and former heads of state we have not made any demands,” Chief Mpepo said.
He said the it was important to understand that public interests overrides personal and family interests.
“Even me as Chief Mpepo when I die there is already a place designated for me where they bury Bemba chiefs and not even my family can change that,” he said. And Rev Lungu said that Embassy Park is a public place where Zambians can pay tribute to the nation’s founding father whereas State lodge is a private property, which is inaccessible.
On Tuesday, Kaweche commenced legal action in the Lusaka High Court against Government’s decision to bury his father at Embassy Park, which he claimed was against his wish.
Kaweche wants Dr Kaunda buried at his farm next to his late wife Mama Betty.
He is seeking a declaration that the government’s decision to bury his father’s body at Embassy Park and later exhume it and bury him at his farm next to Mama Betty at State Lodge as the late president had wished was null and void for want of authority on the part of government.
He wants an order of certiorari to quash Government’s decision.
He is also seeking an order of mandamus compelling government to release the remains of Dr Kaunda to the family so that they can honour his wish to be buried next to Mama Betty.