Zambia’s first president, Kenneth Kaunda, has died.
Cabinet secretary Simon Miti said in an address on public television that Kaunda “died peacefully” at 2.30pm at a military hospital where he had been admitted on Monday with pneumonia.
The news comes after he was admitted to Maina Soko Medical Centre on Monday, with his office saying he was “unwell” and his aide, Rodrick Ngolo, saying he was being treated for pneumonia.
Zambia’s former President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda has passed on. This is after he was admitted to the Maina Soko Military Hospital earlier this week. pic.twitter.com/98YPbQYxUR
— SABC News (@SABCNews) June 17, 2021
Kaunda, 97, was the inaugural president of Zambia between 1964 and 1990, after the country gained independence from Britain.
He was born on 28 April 1924 in Chinsali, in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia.
Kaunda, popularly known by his initials KK, was head of the main nationalist party, the left-of-centre United National Independence Party (UNIP) which led the country to freedom from British colonial rule.
Initially a popular leader, Kaunda became increasingly autocratic and banned all opposition parties.
He eventually ceded power in the first multi-party elections in 1991, losing to trade unionist Fredrick Chiluba.
While in power, he hosted many of the movements fighting for independence or black equality in other countries around the region, including South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC).
Later in life, he regained stature as one of Africa’s political giants, helping to mediate crises in Zimbabwe and Kenya.
Compiled by Siyanda Ndlovu
Additional reporting by AFP