Clerics from different faith groups led prayers in parliament, in a ceremony attended by diplomats and politicians, including the country’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda and Sata’s predecessor Rupiah Banda.
The public had until Sunday been streaming in to view the body of the 77-year-old leader who died on October 28 in a London hospital while undergoing treatment for an undisclosed illness.
“His wish and desire was to develop this country. His wish and desire was to bring economic development,” said Bishop Alick Banda.
Bishop Banda called on the country’s new leader to fulfil Sata’s wish of enacting a new constitution, a process which has been marked by delays.
Sata had promised to deliver a new draft in the run up to his election in 2011.
The leader, nicknamed “King Cobra” for his acerbic tongue will be buried in Lusaka on Tuesday, in a graveyard reserved for heads of state.
The funeral is expected to be attended by regional leaders. Sata is Zambia’s second leader to die in office, in 2008 former president Levy Mwanawasa died in France after an illness.
Vice President Guy Scott has taken over as acting president until an election is held within 90 days.
Scott – born of British parents and Africa’s first white leader since South Africa’s apartheid era — cannot run because Zambia’s constitution bars candidates of direct foreign lineage.