By NANCY SIAME and TEDDY KUYELA
PRESIDENT Sata has declared today as a day of national mourning for academician and former Cabinet minister Peter Matoka.
And Vice-President Guy Scott has described Dr Matoka as a distinguished citizen who diligently served the country in key Government positions.
According to a statement released by Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska in Lusaka yesterday, the day of national mourning will be observed today from 06:00 hours to 18:00 hours.
Dr Msiska said during the day of national mourning, all flags will fly at half-mast and activities of entertainment nature shall be postponed or cancelled.
Dr Matoka, 84, will be put to rest in Chief Kanongeshaâ€™s chiefdom in Mwinilunga.
Dr Matokaâ€™s public service career dates back to 1964 under the UNIP government when he served in various portfolios.
At the time of his death, Dr Matoka was chancellor at Copperstone University.
Dr Matoka died on Friday around 04:00 hours at University Teaching Hospital after an illness.
He is survived by a wife, Grace, several children and grandchildren.
And Dr Scott described Dr Matoka as a distinguished citizen who diligently served the country in various government positions.
Dr Matoka served as first Minister of Information.
Speaking during a funeral church service at the New Apostolic Church Central Congregation in Lusakaâ€™s Longacres yesterday, Dr Scott said Dr Matoka will be greatly remembered because he dedicated his life to bettering Zambia.
He said Dr Matoka,Â who also served in various government portfolios including that of ambassador, played an important role in shaping Zambiaâ€™s post-independence economy.
Dr Scott, who led scores of mourners in bidding farewell to Dr Matoka, said Zambians should remember him as a pride to the country both as a politician and academician.
â€œDr Matoka served in key Government positions. He was a very distinguished man and he contributed greatly to Zambiaâ€™s development agenda. The country will miss him,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Copperstone University vice-chancellor Sitwala Mundiya described Dr Matoka as a true academician who contributed greatly to Zambiaâ€™s education sector.
â€œWe are saddened at the untimely death of Dr Matoka, who was a knowledge library to us and his death has left a huge gap in our organisational structure,â€ he said.
And Dr Matokaâ€™s nephew, Leonard Kantumoya, thanked Government for the support rendered to the bereaved family.
â€œWe want to thank President Michael Sata for according Dr Matoka a State funeral as well as the support that his government has rendered to this family during this trying moment,â€ he said.
Veteran politician Vernon Mwaanga also described Dr Matoka as a true veteran politician, freedom fighter and academician.
Mr Mwaanga said in an interview shortly after the funeral church service that Dr Matoka rendered great service to the country across many spheres where he showed exemplary skill and talent.
â€œHe was a great man to me and indeed to many other people and he served the country diligently. His contribution to this country should be remembered by all well-meaning Zambians,â€ he said.
His body was yesterday flown to Mwinilunga, where it will lie in state in readiness for burial today.
By NANCY SIAME and TEDDY KUYELA