Zambia: Ex-president Kaunda’s burial commences despite court challenge

The burial of Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, started on Wednesday despite a court challenge by one of his sons against his burial site.

Kaunda ruled Zambia from 1964, when the country gained independence from Britain, until 1991 when he was defeated in an election. On June 17, he died at a military hospital in Lusaka. 

Kaunda’s son, Kaweche, filed a lawsuit in court on Tuesday, claiming that the government’s decision to bury his father’s remains at a presidential burial site was contrary to the African statesman’s wish.

He claimed that the government wanted to bury his father against his desires at Embassy Park, then exhume and rebury him at his chosen location. 

Kaweche Kaunda said his father’s final wish was to be buried close to his late wife, Betty, who passed away more than a decade ago. 

Late Tuesday, government solicitor-general Abraham Mwansa said no court order had been served against the planned burial at the presidential burial site.

“We are all law-abiding citizens and if there was any order stopping the procession, we could have abided by that particular order,” Mwansa said.

John Sangwa, Kaweche Kaunda’s lawyer, said a high court judge will rule on the motion by Wednesday lunchtime, but that no restraining order had been imposed preventing the burial. 

On Friday, African leaders and diplomats joined Zambians in mourning the death of Kaunda, the country’s liberation hero, who died at the age of 97 from pneumonia. 

Despite the fact that Zambia’s copper-based economy struggled under his leadership, Kaunda will be remembered as a fierce African nationalist who stood up to white minority-ruled South Africa.

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