Vice-President Ansari calls on ex-Zambian President Kaunda

January 7th, 2010 - 5:49 pm ICT by ANI  

By Ashok Dixit,
Lusaka (Zambia), Jan.7 (ANI): Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari called on Zambia’s first President Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda at the Kabulonga Office here on Thursday morning.

During the meeting, which lasted about half-an-hour, the two leaders discussed issues of bilateral, regional and multilateral importance.

Vice-President Ansari also recalled the warm association between India and Zambia, and in particular, Dr. Kaunda’s close ties with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and New Delhi.

The two leaders reportedly reviewed the outcome of the Indian Vice-President’s current visit to Zambia, and also assessed ways in which the two countries could further create a conducive environment to facilitate investment by Indian business entities.

Ansari reiterated the view that the time was ripe for re-energising Indo-Zambian ties in various spheres of mutual interest. He said Zambia should take advantage of the new initiatives announced during the India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008. India has particularly laid stress on Zambia using the concessional credit lines offered to it by New Delhi to promote trade between the two countries.

Affectionately known as KK, Dr. Kaunda was born April 28, 1924 and served as the first President of Zambia, from 1964 to 1991.

Starting his career as a teacher in April 1949, Kaunda joined politics in 1951 when he became Organizing Secretary of the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress for Northern Province. In 1953, he moved to Lusaka to take up the post of Secretary General of the ANC, under the presidency of Harry Nkumbula.

In 1955, Kaunda and Nkumbula were imprisoned for two months and the experience of imprisonment had a radicalizing impact on Kaunda. The two leaders drifted apart as Nkumbula became increasingly influenced by white liberals and was seen as being willing to compromise on the issue of Black majority rule. Nkumbula’s allegedly autocratic leadership of the ANC eventually resulted in a split.

Kaunda broke from the ANC and formed the Zambian African National Congress (ZANC) in October 1958. ZANC was banned in March 1959. In June Kaunda was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, which he spent first in Lusaka, then in Salisbury (now called Harare).

When Kaunda was released from prison in January 1960, he was elected President of the United National Independent Party (UNIP). In July 1961, Kaunda organized a civil disobedience campaign in Northern Province, the so called Cha-cha-cha campaign, which consisted of burning schools and blocking roads. Kaunda ran as a UNIP candidate during the 1962 elections. This resulted in a UNIP-ANC Coalition Government, with Kaunda as Minister of Local Government and Social Welfare.

In January 1964, UNIP won the General Election under the new Constitution beating the ANC under Nkumbula. Kaunda was appointed Prime Minister. On 24 October 1964 he became the first President of independent Zambia.

As President of Zambia, Kaunda was an outspoken supporter of the anti-apartheid movement and opposed white minority rule in what was then Rhodesia. Kaunda allowed several African liberation fronts such as ZAPU and ZANU of Rhodesia and African National Congress to set up headquarters in Zambia. Simultaneously, he pursued a programme of development for Zambia with external assistance from countries such as India.

After demitting office in 1991 in the face of strong resistance from opposition parties, Kaunda faced a period of uncertainty in his own country. Attempts were made to deport him to Malawi on the grounds that he was a Malawian. The then MMD-dominated government had the constitution amended, barring citizens with foreign parentage from standing for the presidency, to prevent Kaunda from contesting elections in 1996. Kaunda retired from politics after he was accused
of involvement in a failed 1997 coup attempt. In 1999, Kaunda was declared stateless by the Ndola High Court in a judgment delivered by Mr. Justice Chalendo Sakala. Kaunda however successfully challenged this decision in the Supreme Court of Zambia, which declared him to be a Zambian citizen in the year 2000.

Octogenarian Kaunda has been a recipient of many national and international awards.

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