Politics

Zambia first president Kenneth Kaunda dies aged 97

The first president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda died on Thursday,17 of June, after being previously admitted in the military hospital in the Zambian capital Lusaka on Monday


Kenneth Kaunda who ruled Zambia for 27 years is widely regarded as a hero in Africa as he played a big role in helping Zambia (then known as north Rhodesia) gain its independence from Britain in the 1960s, he became the first president of the country after she gained her independence in 1964 and he remained in power until 1991 when he stepped down after losing multi-party elections, Kaunda was imprisoned twice by the former colonial masters as a result of his radicalism in the struggle for independence, in 1960, he became the head of the united national independence party(unip), in Oct 1964 the country gained independence, she was renamed from north Rhodesia to Zambia and Kaunda was announced as her president, he ruled with a one-party system type of government
Kaunda didn’t only fight for freedom in his country but other African countries too, he helped with the revolution in south Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and in south Africa, he helped in to harbour exiled unionist from south Africa to his country, he often clashed with Margaret Thatcher over her disposition to apartheid, he advocated for a united and free Africa, he believed that all Africans irrespective of colour should be treated equally. in 1962, he released his autobiography, “Zambia shall be free”, in the book, he condemned the colonial rule and narrated his rise in the nation political hierarchy

When he assumed power in 1964, Zambia was economically strong, by 1986 Zambia was the country with the second highest debt in relative to its GDP in the world, while he was president the country’s economic slipped, his rule was somewhat dictatorial, implementing one-party state rule government in Zambia helped to legalize his autocracy approach to government, he was the president of the ruling party UNIP as well as the president of the state, the party only presented one candidate for the presidential elections – Kaunda, he also pressurize the media and other sectors in to extort the public to give him votes, this system worked well for him as he was confirmed president in 1978, 1983 and 1988, with the official results showing that over 80 percent of voters approved him, being the president of UNIP Kaunda also controlled the parliamentary elections. Eventually the economic crisis, internal and external pressure caused Kaunda to lose his grip on power, in 1990, riots stated to happen all over the country and although he tried to get around it, he couldn’t. he eventually announced an election in 1991, where he was swept out of power by trade union leader, Fredrick culliba of the MMD party
Zambian President Edgar Lungu said the country was mourning “a true African icon”.

“I learnt of your passing this afternoon with great sadness,” he wrote on Facebook. “On behalf of the entire nation and on my own behalf I pray that the entire Kaunda family is comforted as we mourn our first president and true African icon.”
The country has declared three weeks of national mourning in his memory

By David Adeleye

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