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ZAMBIA’S fourth President Rupiah Bwezani Banda has left an indelible mark on the country as a man of the people.  He died at his home in Lusaka on Friday night.

Mr Banda, Zambia’s fourth President, who was in power from 2008 to 2011, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and had been receiving medical treatment.

He had lived a life of service to the nation, from the early days of the country’s independence as one of the youth whom former President Kenneth Kaunda nurtured alongside with Dr Vernon Mwaanga, Mr Sikota Wina and his late brother Arthur Wina, the country’s first minister of Finance

His, is a life that must be emulated by the country’s youth, who often cry about being marginalised.

At an early age, he was the country’s ambassador to Egypt and also served as Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Mr Banda also served in the parastatal sector, and was General Manager of the defunct National Agricultural Marketing Board – NAMBOARD.

Under President Kaunda, he also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

After retiring from politics, Mr Banda agreed to come out of retirement in 2006 to serve the nation by late President Levy Mwanawasa who appointed him as Vice President.

When President Mwanawasa suffered a stroke at the African Union summit in Egypt in 2008, Mr Banda took over the presidential reins in an acting capacity.

Mr Banda was elected President in October the same year under the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, which he joined after becoming Vice President.

He lost the presidency to Michael Chilufya’s Patriotic Front in 2011.

Although his presidential immunity was removed to answer corruption-related offences ranging from abuse of office, corrupt acquisition of public property and misappropriation of public funds, he was acquitted.

It is to his credit that he remained the ever jovial and unifier as epitomised after the divisive August 12, 2021 tripartite elections when he brought the incumbent President Lungu and then President-elect Hakainde Hichilema together that helped reduce tension in the nation.

As Dr Mwaanga said, the country has lost one of its greatest sons, at a time when his vast experience and knowledge, were most needed in various spheres of the nation.

Vice President Mutale Nalumango described Mr Banda as a statesman, who not only preached unity but also ensured that peace was maintained in the country.  She said he would be remembered as a jovial man who embraced everyone.

The nation, will also remember him, as Mr Lungu said, a role model of peaceful transition of power whose adherence to democracy must be emulated by present and future African leaders.

The values by which Mr Banda lived his life, ought to be an inspiration to the youth, to love and be of service to their country.

It should be his legacy.

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