Namibian President Hage Geingob has declared three days of national mourning in honour of the late former President of Zambia Rupiah Bwezani Banda.
Flags of Namibia and the African Union will fly at half-mast until Friday, when Banda’s body will be buried in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka.
“Indeed, with his passing, Namibia has lost a dependable friend,’’ Geingob has said previously.
“But, we are comforted by his indelible contributions to the liberation movements of our region and the socio-economic development of its people.’’
Geingob extended sympathies to Banda’s wife and children, and the fraternal people of Zambia.
“May his soul rest in peace,’’ he added.
Banda, who served as Zambia’s fourth president from 2008 to 2011, died at his home on March 11 of colon cancer after more than a year of fighting.
Banda was vice president when the sudden death of former president Levy Mwanawasa in 2008 propelled him to the top job, making him the fourth president of the country following independence from Britain in 1964.
A narrowly-elected ruling party candidate in October 2008, Banda served three years in the position.
During his tenure, the economy grew rapidly, but widespread corruption was alleged.
In the midst of rising copper prices and a flood of Chinese investment, the former leader oversaw major infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals, and roads.
Despite much wealth generated during his time in office, Banda was defeated by opposition leader Michael Sata in his 2011 reelection bid, largely because the cash generated never reached the people but instead ended up in the hands of a few powerful individuals.
As an example, he was criticized for allowing the acquittal of former President Frederick Chiluba to stand without appeal, and was described by Sata as a “friend of thieves.” Banda was accused of embezzling more than $11 million (€10.08 million) of state funds during his tenure.
In 2013, he was stripped of his immunity but was never convicted of any crimes.
Banda was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2020 and had been receiving medical treatment at the time of his death.
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