STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has described late President Michael Sata as a gallant and great leader.
President Sata died on October 28 last year at Londonâ€™s King Edward VII Hospital after an illness.
He was 77.
President Lungu said Mr Sata was a man of the people who accommodated everyone.
â€œPresident Sata was an inspirational man who was admired even by his opponents,â€ President Lungu said.
The President said this in a terse and sombre speech during late President Sataâ€™s memorial service at St Ignatius Catholic Church in Lusaka yesterday.
President Lungu said Mr Sata accommodated everyone and was loved by many people.
â€œPresident Sata had a rare drive for success. And this is evidenced by the many developmental projects he embarked on such as the Avondale Housing, the Merzaf flats in Chilenje and the flyover bridge in Lusaka,â€ President Lungu said.
He said Mr Sata was an architect of massive development and his desire was to see a better Zambia.
â€œIn his quest to see a better Zambia, Mr Sata founded the Patriotic Front, which later became a formidable party that offered proper checks and balances,â€ President Lungu said.
He said once Mr Sata became President, he embarked on an ambitious programme to completely turn around Zambia with projects such as Link Zambia 8000, construction of hospitals, schools and infrastructures and the creation of new districts to take services closer to the people.
â€œIt is a difficult task for me to remember President Sata. I am President today because of him. I am indebted to him. He groomed me to be a politician. He was a smart leader and an achiever,â€ President Lungu said.
Superior, Jesuit Community at St Ignatius Catholic Church Father Charles Chilinda advised the PF to keep its focus on the poor because it was formed on that premise.
â€œPeople will judge this Government on its concern for the poor. Have a heart for the poor,â€ Fr Chilinda said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu and United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema shook hands during the memorial.
The President also greeted other political party leaders who attended the memorial.
This attracted cheers from hundreds of people who converged on St Ignatius Catholic Church for late President Sataâ€™s memorial service.
â€œI want political party presidents to come in front and then shake hands with each other. Live in love for the sake of poor people,â€ Fr Chilinda said as people clapped and cheered.
Fr Chilinda said some people viewed Mr Sata as a dictator, yet he was a man full of love and compassion for the poor.
Family representative Guy Scott described Mr Sata as a marvel who knew politics very well.
â€œI met Mr Sata in 1991 at Mulungushi Rock of Authority and I am writing a book on his life titled â€˜In Black and Whiteâ€™, which will be ready in January next year,â€ Dr Scott said.
Later in the day, President Lungu led Dr Kaseba and others to lay wreaths on Mr Sataâ€™s grave.
STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka