News / South Africa / Politics

Gopolang Moloko
4 minute read
28 Apr 2019
5:41 pm

Zuma, ANC wish Kenneth Kaunda a happy 95th birthday

Gopolang Moloko

The former president joined Zambian nationals in wishing their former statesman a happy birthday.

Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Michel Bega

Former president Jacob Zuma alongside the ANC sent well wishes to the former president of Zambia Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, who celebrated his 95th birthday on Sunday.

Picture: Jacob Zuma/Twitter

Zuma said on Twitter: “Today we celebrate the 95th birthday of one of the greatest leaders of our people in the struggle to liberate the continent of Africa from colonialism and imperialism.

“President Kenneth Kaunda led the sister people of Zambia to independence from Britain in 1964.

“His government embarked on an ambitious programme to raise the quality of life of his people especially in the field of education. He understood better that the freedom of Zambia was incomplete without the liberation of the rest of the region and the continent at large.

“At great cost to the country he did not flinch from providing material and diplomatic support and sanctuary to the liberation struggles.

“It was from Zambia that the combined forces of Umkhonto WeSizwe, the military wing of the ANC together with the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army of ZAPU infiltrated then Southern Rhodesia to fight the occupation army of the settler regime led by Ian Smith and supported by the Apartheid regime of South Africa in the Wanki and Sipolilo Campaigns in 1967 and 1968. Under his leadership the Zambian government embarked on a systematic program of nationalising key industries that were wholly owned by foreign companies.”

He joined the people of Zambia to wish good health to the former statesman.

The ANC issued a statement on Sunday morning sending praises to Kaunda.

Today his Excellency former President Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of the free Republic of Zambia, turns 95 years old.

It is a great milestone for one of the greatest sons and leaders to have been produced by our continent.

As we celebrate 25 years of freedom we recall that South Africa’s transition to freedom and democracy owes a lot to the contribution that President Kaunda made personally and the role that the Zambian people played to ensure that South Africa was finally liberated.

Lusaka, Zambia was the headquarters of the ANC for more than 30 years in exile. We owe the people of Zambia a great deal of gratitude for their support to the ANC in exile. The warm welcome and hospitality that South Africans received from the Zambian government and its people encouraged and inspired the fight against the scourge of apartheid and racism.

The name of President Kaunda will always be synonymous with that of freedom and liberation of Africa, particularly Southern Africa. Zambia supported the struggles of liberation movements including Frelimo of Mozambique, MPLA of Angola, ZAPU and ZANU of Zimbabwe and SWAPO of Namibia conducted their struggles against colonialism and apartheid. The hosting of these liberation movements came at a great price to Zambia. The country’s economy was sabotaged, with clear intent of discouraging the Zambians from supporting the liberation movements. However, this did not deter President Kaunda and the Zambians from supporting the liberation of Southern Africa.

The role that President Kaunda played in our liberation struggle is indeed immeasurable. When the ANC moved towards negotiations with the apartheid regime President Kaunda supported that initiative, and did not put pressure on the ANC to adopt a settlement at all cost. He took a principled stand and backed the ANC demands as spelt out in the Harare Declaration. This support was crucial at the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), which adopted those guidelines as preconditions for negotiations.

President Kaunda’s support of President OR Tambo was highlighted by President OR in his 1991 political overview when he opened the 48th national conference of the ANC in Durban, the first inside the country after the unbanning. He said:

“I must also thank His Excellency President Kenneth Kaunda who did everything possible to save my life – including paying all expenses relating to my illness and sending his best doctor and nurse to accompany me to London. Many comrades who visited me in Sweden and London were of great help towards my recovery as were the prayers many of you offered”.

As the ANC we salute you President Kenneth Kaunda and extend our deepest gratitude to you for having offered a hand of friendship and generosity when we needed it most.

Happy Birthday and may you have many more.

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