Thabo Mbeki Foundation hails Kenneth Kaunda as a rare human being

The former Zambian president passed away on Thursday at the age of 97 in Lusaka.

Former President of the Republic of Zambia Dr. Kenneth Kaunda arrives for the inauguration of the newly re-elected South African President, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, 24 May 2014. Picture: IHSAAN HAFFEJEE / POOL / AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Thabo Mbeki Foundation has described Kenneth Kaunda as a rare human being and self-effacing African patriot who leaves behind a legacy of exemplary leadership, which should serve as a benchmark for all of the continent's leaders.

The former Zambian president passed away on Thursday at the age of 97 in Lusaka.

Flags are flying at half-mast in the country as it marks 10 days of mourning in honour of Kaunda, who supported efforts to liberate South Africa from an oppressive minority government.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation said South Africans owed a great deal to the now late icon and his people.

It has lauded him and his party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP), for positioning an independent Zambia to serve as the home for liberation movements in the entire southern region.

READ:

- OBITUARY: Kenneth Kaunda, a great African icon and patriot

- Late Kenneth Kaunda was a servant to all, says ANC's Mac Maharaj

The patron of the foundation Mbeki - during his tenure as president of South Africa - bestowed on Kaunda the National Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in gold for his exceptional contribution to the struggle against apartheid.

On Thursday night, Mbeki told SABC News that Kaunda really had the total liberation of the continent close to his heart.

“It was part of his agenda; it was not a by-the-way thing, which he can attend to tomorrow.”

Zambia has declared 21 days of mourning where all entertainment and election campaigns have been suspended in honour of its founding president.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.