A TWENTY-ONE gun salute reverberated as the National Anthem solemnly played. The casket was lowered into the grave and the presidential flag was lowered…President Michael Sata’s era had ended, but only three years after forming Government with the Patriotic Front (PF) with which he had spent 10 years in the opposition.
President Sata had a long illustrious political career but his presidency had been the shortest, having been cut by the cold hand of death before he could meet his dreams and the pledges he made to Zambians.
A fly past above Embassy Park, was watched by hundreds of mourners even as the body of President Sata was lowered into the grave. It was goodbye to a man fondly known as King Cobra because of his bold style of dealing with the truth.
Despite the heat the people gathered at Embassy Park waited patiently for the body of their late President following an almost 3-hour delay in the burial programme.
Conspicuously missing from President Sata’s requiem mass at the Heroes Stadium and burial however was former secretary general Wynter Kabimba, who time and again claimed was the true disciple of President Sata.
Mr Kabimba was also not at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport when the body of the late President arrived in the country two weeks ago.
Zambians are still in shock at the death of President Sata whom Government officials, State House and family members insisted was in the best of health despite persistent rumours to the contrary.
Several African heads of State led by Africa’s last strongest anti-imperialist leader, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe who is the Southern African Development Community chairman witnessed the solemn send-off of the President.
President Sata died two weeks ago in a London Hospital after a trip reported as a medical check-up by family and State House sources.
Controversy over who should act as President has consumed the Patriotic Front and the country as a whole with legal minds differing over the interpretation of Article 38 and 39 of the Constitution.
The differences in opinion led to the unceremonious dismissal of PF Seretary General Edgar Lungu, an action that led to widespread protests, forcing the Vice-President, Dr. Guy Scott, who is also acting President to quickly rescind his decision.
“When President Sata left for Israel, we were told that Mr Wynter Kabimba was acting president but there was a lot of debate about his appointment as Acting President. When the President came back, he fired Mr Kabimba as Justice Minister and secretary general of the party. He then appointed Mr Lungu as the secretary general and also gave him the ministry of justice. President Sata could have appointed any other person in the PF to be Justice Minister but did not and that is why we strongly believe Mr Lungu was the chosen one by President Sata,” one cadre said.