EDITORIAL: The good and bad of Kenneth Kaunda

18 June 2021 | Opinion

Zambia’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda passed away yesterday – and Namibia owes him a debt of eternal gratitude.

Kaunda was a witty politician, revered statesman and – perhaps most importantly – a true African nationalist.

Zambia became independent from British rule in 1964 and Kaunda, upon resumption of power as president that year, created a platform for many African liberation movements to wage their wars from Zambian soil.

Swapo was accommodated in Zambia, out of Kaunda’s goodwill, from 1964 to 1975. Swapo started its armed struggle in 1966, with its soldiers coming to attack colonial South Africa’s strategic facilities in Namibia and retreating back to Zambia when the enemy advanced.

Other liberation movements in southern Africa, such as ANC of South Africa and Zanu-PF of Zimbabwe, also used Zambian soil to attack occupiers of their own countries, thanks to the now departed Kaunda.

His sense of Africa solidarity has never been replicated by anyone else that comes to mind. In Angola, for example, Swapo was only allowed to fight from there because its government was under siege from its own internal rebellions and used Swapo as an extra hand in the battlefield.

While Kaunda is head and shoulders above many African liberators, he had a dark spot on his legacy - his destructive economic policies, while his one-party state policy also stifled basic political freedoms.

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