President Cyril Ramaphosa has learned with great sadness of the passing of Kenneth “KK” Kaunda, Founding President of a post-colonial Republic of Zambia and unwavering champion of South Africa’s own liberation .
On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, President Ramaphosa extends his condolences to the Kaunda Family and the government and people of the Republic of Zambia.
President Kaunda passed away on Thursday, 17 June 2021, at the age of 97.
In remembrance of this great leader the South African Government has declared a period of mourning for 10 days with immediate effect.
Flags will be flown at half-mast at all flag stations.
Paying tribute to the fallen leader, President Ramaphosa said:
“This evening we bow our heads in grief at the passing of a beloved and rightfully revered father of African independence and unity – President Kenneth “KK” Kaunda.
“We are united in our sadness with the Kaunda family and the government and people of the Republic of Zambia.
“We are united in our sadness with the people of our region and continent, to whom Kenneth Kaunda’s leadership was a source of inspiration and resilience.
“President Kaunda dedicated his 97 long years to the liberation and service of the people of Zambia.
“He devoted himself and the Zambian people to supporting liberation movements around our region in their quest for independence and freedom.
“Steadfast against the intimidation of the apartheid state, he offered Lusaka as the headquarters of the African National Congress in exile.
“Under his leadership, Zambia provided refuge, care and support to liberation fighters who had been forced to flee the countries of their birth.
“He stood alongside the people of South Africa at the time of our greatest need and was unwavering in his desire for the achievement of our freedom.
“It was in honour of this remarkable contribution that the South African government bestowed on President Kaunda the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in 2002.
“Kenneth Kaunda was a pioneering champion of a decolonised, united and prosperous Africa. He represented his country and continent with distinction on global platforms.
“Today we recommit ourselves to building the Africa of KK’s vision – an Africa of peace, justice, prosperity and innovation.
“President Kaunda was at our side to comfort us when we lost our leaders.
“We remember his moving tribute as we laid Madiba to rest in Qunu.
“Today, we place ourselves alongside Kenneth Kaunda’s family and the Zambian nation as they mourn this deep loss.
“As the South African nation, we will never be able to repay the debt of gratitude that we owe to President Kaunda.
“Nor will we ever forget that it was with the help of this extraordinary leader’s care and solidarity that our freedom and our democracy was won.
“May his soul rest in peace.”
ISSUED BY THE PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA