Saturday, April 21, 2012
By Kombe Chimpinde, Salim Dawood, Roy Habaalu, Bright Mukwasa a
Sat 21 Apr. 2012, 13:30 CAT
CADRES yesterday clashed at the funeral service for former vice-president George Kunda at the Cathe-dral of the Child Jesus in Lusaka. And President Michael Sata has accused MMD presidential aspirant Pastor Nevers Mumba of ferrying thugs to Kunda's funeral to fan the confusion. But Pastor Mumba said he would not respond to President Sata's accusation.
While the mood was solemn inside the Church, tension and rivalry hang outside the cathedral, where PF and a combined group of opposition MMD and UPND cadres squared off, exchanging invectives.
The PF cadres had seemingly been incensed by some MMD and UPND cadres believed to be Pastor Nevers Mumba's supporters and wearing T-shirts with inscriptions "Don't kutina", an apparent mockery of the PF's "Don't Kubeba" slogan.
The PF cadres continuously taunted the MMD and UPND cadres about their loss of last September's general elections, creating extra work for security, which included army and police officers outside.
Their chanting and singing even subdued the the proceedings inside the cathedral.
The situation nearly turned nasty when the PF cadres surged to the entrance of the cathedral, where the MMD and UPND cadres had taken up vantage point in order to dislodge them.
The cadres hurled insults and disparaging remarks at each other, with the PF side boasting that they were now in power.
Security personnel, who were visibly overwhelmed by the multitude of the ruling PF cadres, eventually managed to bring the situation under control after re-enforcement.
Irate MMD cadres complained to the media and the police of harassment, while PF cadres entertained themselves to spirited music and dance.
The cathedral grounds had been filled with PF, MMD and UPND cadres as early as 09:00 hours, with PF cadres outnumbering the MMD and UPND.
Their singing and chanting, punctuated by the feuding overwhelmed the sizeable number of police officers deployed outside the cathedral and even those inside.
At some point, President Sata abruptly ordered Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani to sort out party cadres that were causing the commotion.
This was when President Sata got incensed by the behaviour of PF and MMD cadres shortly after he gave a brief speech.
When President Sata was about to take his seat after his speech, in which he thanked Zambians and defence chiefs for the service rendered to the Kunda family, and Cardinal Merdado Mazombwe rose to the last ritual before the Mass could conclude, President Sata made his way back to the podium and ordered Inspector General Libongani to sort out those that were causing confusion.
"These self-ordained pastors, have printed T-shirts ‘Don't kutina'and have put thugs outside, who are provoking trouble. Can Zambia Police… Madam Libongani get outside and sort them out. We have come here to mourn and not entertain the thugs," President Sata demanded.
At that point, Inspector General Libongani and a few other officers left the service to go and take charge of the situation.
When contacted after the service for his comment, Pastor Mumba said he found President Sata's attacks against him and the pastors during the service as
"I was in the service myself. I was there myself. There are many things that he said and that he would sort me out. I can't answer the President. We went there to mourn my brother and I would rather keep the honour of Kunda. That was an inappropriate thing to say at that time," said Pastor Mumba.
Earlier in his speech, President Sata said he was amazed that some circles of society were wondering why Kunda was the first former vice-president to be accorded three days of national mourning.
"Madam (Irene) Kunda, on your behalf, I would like to thank the Zambian people who have come to escort you to this unbearable celebration… It's not easy. Some of us have gone through this," said President Sata, who also took time to recognise the presence of several individuals in the audience.
"Don't listen to self-ordained reverends because in this country, we have self-ordained pastors; all they think of is ‘Oh, George Kunda was neglected, he was not evacuated' but last week we evacuated Mrs Nakatindi. Where is she? The same self-ordained pastors, are not saying ‘thank you to government for Mr Robiana who is now walking."
President Sata said that death was God's will that could not be defeated by science.
"They condemned me, (saying) why have I treated Kunda as if he is President, saying ‘this man (Kunda)has been given three days of national mourning and when Gen (Christon) Tembo died, they did not treat him the way they are treating him (Kunda)'," President Sata said.
" I do not want to mention them. I was not President when General Tembo died. Rupiah was President when General Tembo died. I do not know if Rupiah read the regulations of state funeral."
He said Kunda deserved to be respected because he was once vice-president of the country.
President Sata said he was aware of a lot things being said about him but that he had learnt the art of listening rather than just responding to anything being thrown at him.
"Dr (Kenneth) Kaunda has taught me something. When you speak, I treat you as if I am not listening to what you are saying because my tongue can be very sharp," he said amid ululations.
President Sata also thanked the security and defence forces for the services rendered during the mourning period.
And Giving a eulogy, Lusaka lawyer Sunday Nkonde hailed Kunda as a hard worker and defender of his beliefs.
"His work as minister of justice, he constantly resisted revealing what he had advised government as its client even if it meant him shouldering public anger and criticism. He at all times jealously upheld lawyer-client confidentiality even when others would tell him it was to his own detriment. The late honourable Kunda was very steadfast in his advice to government," Nkonde said.
He said Kunda was a man of virtue and who was not tied to political affiliation and status in life.
MMD acting president Michael Mabenga said Kunda's demise was a heartbreaking episode in the MMD's history.
He, however, said the party had to accept God's will.
Meanwhile, in his homily, Cardinal Mazombwe acknowledged various contributions made by Kunda to the country's development.
Cardinal Mazombwe said that every death was painful but that love was bigger than death.
"Love is stronger than death. We are able to endure and accept any pain in life when we love God," he said.
Vice-President Guy Scott, Chief Justice Ernest Sakala, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini and opposition party leaders joined mourners from all works of life at the cathedral, which was filled to capacity.
Leader of the opposition in the House Felix Mutati sat next to President Sata and first lady Dr Christine Kaseba during the service, and were occasionally seen chatting.
Tributes wre also said by the late Kunda's sons during the service.
And Vice-President Scott said Kunda believed in the diversity of humankind.
During the burial at Leopards Hill Memorial Park yesterday, Vice-President Scott said Kunda spoke openly about the responsibility and duty of all citizens to contribute to the well-being of their community.
He said Kunda believed that there was no magic formula to achieving development and national success.
He said Kunda set high personal standards of discipline and hard work.
"Which included essential elements of integrity and self-sacrifice for the common good of society. It required a brave person like him to stand and eloquently defend the things he believed in and cared for," said Vice-President Scott.
He said Kunda held the view that both lawyers and ordinary citizens had a cardinal duty to contribute and commit themselves to law reforms that would guarantee personal freedoms, peace, national unity and human dignity.
"Even at a time his health appeared to be failing, Kunda never slowed down his work rate and continued his quest for accountable governance and for the need to guard against the abuse of power. He sounded constantly the warnings against the dangers of manipulating by ambitious, dishonest and selfish men and women. He always stressed that for any society to succeed, the citizens had to play a pivotal role and that for this to become a reality and of benefit to them, much would depend on their contribution to it," he said.
Vice-President Scott said Kunda was a very private person in more ways than one.
He said his views on a number of issues did not earn him acclaim among his adversaries but he remained fearless, resolute and forthright in stating them.
He said he was a highly principled man, who made a huge contribution to Zambia's constitutional and law development process.
And Chief Justice Sakala said Kunda had left a mark on the justice system in Zambia, which even his harshest critics would find difficult to erase.
During a valedictory session at the Supreme Court in honour of Kunda, justice Sakala said Kunda had left a legacy that whatever office one holds as a lawyer, the tenets of the legal profession, ideals of justice and the rule of law should never be sacrificed.
He said Kunda, who also once served as Law Association of Zambia president, was a strong supporter of the Judiciary's autonomy and independence and that he did all he could to provide support to the Judiciary.
Justice Sakala said Kunda stood out as a landmark and a beacon for the old as well as the new generation of lawyers.
He said Kunda served the country selflessly and was a strong defender of the separation of powers, good governance and the rule of law.
"Truly Kunda in his coolness of mind, was a paradigm of a good lawyer, a good politician and a perfect specimen of humility," he said.
Justice Sakala further described the late Kunda as a brilliant lawyer who contributed not only to the legal profession but the country as a whole.
He said Kunda would be remembered as a prolific and great legal mind who contributed a lot to Zambia's jurisprudence.
He said in his capacity as a private lawyer and as Attorney General, Kunda made his submissions with clarity, respect, dignity and with a smile.
"We shall also remember him for the various laws he initiated to improve the administration of justice in the country as legal affairs minister," Justice Sakala said.
He said Kunda would be fondly remembered for supporting and ensuring that over 100 new local courts were built in all the nine provinces of Zambia in the last three years.
He further said Kunda introduced and supported legislation which increased the establishment of the Supreme Court and High Court benches.
And Solicitor General Musa Mwenye said Kunda would be remembered as a courageous member of the Zambian bar.
Mwenye said he found Kunda to be a fearless opponent as he had the extremely important attribute of courage.
He said the passing of Kunda had saddened the legal profession as he was the second lawyer in the last 21 years to serve as vice-president of Zambia.
LAZ president James Banda said Kunda was a dedicated member of the association.
Banda said Kunda's death had also created a void in his family and prayed that God would comfort them.
Meanwhile former Attorney General Abyudi Shonga said Kunda spoke his mind and called a spade a spade.
Shonga also described Kunda as an exemplary lawyer.