LUSAKA, Zambia – Former Zambian President Rupiah Bwezani Banda, 85, died at home on Friday after a short battle with colon cancer, his family and the presidency said.
Banda, Zambia’s fourth president who was in power from 2008 to 2011, was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and had been receiving medical treatment.
“He died around 7PM today,” said Andrew, Banda’s second eldest child whoinitially confirmed the death to Reuters.
Addressing the nation in a special televised address, President Hakainde Hichilema paid tribute to his predecessor.
“We recognise with fondness his long and illustrious career in public service and we appreciate his service to the nation,” Hichilema said.
In capital city Lusaka, where Banda had his family home, a sombre mood hung over several restaurants and pubs as people tuned in to Hichilema’s address.
Banda, who was born in Gwanda in Zimbabwe, had held senior diplomatic posts under first President Kenneth Kaunda before being eventually namedas vice president in 2006 by then-President Levy Mwanawasa.
Banda served as acting president in mid-2008 when Mwanawasa suffered a stroke. Banda narrowly won October elections the same year on a ruling party ticket.
His tenure was marred by allegations of graft and in 2013, Zambia’s parliament stripped Banda of immunity from prosecution, clearing the way for investigators to arrest him for corruption-related offences.
Banda stood accused of abuse of office, corrupt acquisition of public property and misappropriation of public funds involving more than $11 million during his tenure as president, but was never convicted in a court of law and did not serve any jail time. – Reuters