NANCY SIAME and PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has described late former Minister of Health Joseph Kasonde as a diligent medical practitioner with a rare sense of commitment to duty.
The head of State says Dr Kasonde should be emulated by all medical personnel and civil servants.
President Lungu, who led hundreds of mourners during a requiem mass for Dr Kasonde at St Ignatius Catholic Church yesterday, said the late former minister played a pivotal role in transforming the health sector.
“Dr Kasonde served this country with distinction. He greatly contributed to the development of the country’s health policies,” he said.
President Lungu said the medical fraternity has lost an individual who had great passion for serving communities.
The head of State, who was accompanied by First Lady Esther, said Dr Kasonde’s commitment to the medical profession was evident in the various capacities he served.
“He did not seek narrow interests or defend his privilege, but he always wanted to spread privilege and I am glad that his successor, Dr Chitalu Chilufya, is taking after him,” he said.
Earlier, St Ignatius Parish priest Charles Chilinda said Dr Kasonde was a God-fearing man who was passionate about everything he did.
Fr Chilinda said death is a special moment when individuals encounter something greater than themselves and it helps those who remain to reflect on their lives.
“No-one has power over life apart from God. We will all die one day and we must thus endeavour to live upright with God,” he said.
In her tribute, Dr Kasonde’s wife, Mary, said she will always remember the 47 years she spent with the late former minister, who she said was her best friend.
She said Dr Kasonde was a loving and caring husband who always spoiled her with good things in life.
“I was a spoiled wife who got everything I asked for whether small or big,” Mrs Kasonde said.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Lusaka Apex Medical University vice-chancellor Evaristo Njelesani said Dr Kasonde achieved so much in life which the family is proud of.
“He was one of the few first black people to study medicine abroad,” Professor Njelesani said.
Meanwhile, a sombre atmosphere characterised the burial of Dr Kasonde at Leopards Hill Memorial Park.
Among those who attended the burial were the First Lady, ministers, senior government officials, family members and friends.
And Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Peter Kasanda thanked President Lungu for according Dr Kasonde a State funeral.
Mr Kasanda, a family member, said President Lungu did everything possible to ensure that Dr Kasonde received the best medical attention both within Zambia and abroad.
“I stand here to acknowledge the support and love which the family has received during the illness and demise of our late brother. We want to thank his Excellency President Lungu, who has been there for Dr Kasonde until his death,” he said.
Dr Kasonde, 79, died on Friday at the University Teaching Hospital after an illness.
He is survived by a wife, five children and seven grandchildren.