The remains of Zambia’s deceased President Michael Sata are scheduled to arrive Saturday in the capital, Lusaka, as the government unveils funeral plans. The event is expected to attract foreign heads of state across Africa and beyond, according to information Minister Joseph Katema.
Sata will be buried on November 11, said Katema.
He outlined the funeral arrangements for the late head of state, which includes the laying in state of his remains in parliament. Sata served as a legislator for two decades.
“We do have a couple of funeral houses here in Lusaka, where mourning will be done… There would be mass prayers on the grounds of the national assembly [parliament] … then his body will lay in state in Mulungushi Conference Hall, where people would be given the chance to pay their last respect,” said Katema.
He said Zambia’s foreign ministry is working closely with international partners and other colleague heads of state and government who want to be part of the funeral proceedings before the burial of the late president.
“At the government house, there would be a book of condolence where foreign dignitaries and diplomats will go and sign in the book of condolence. That provision is definitely there,” said Katema.
The government in Lusaka has called for calm as the country mourns the loss of its leader.
Katema said Zambians have always demonstrated unity when faced with challenges, including death.
“That is the spirit of Zambians when we are hit with tragedy or gross challenge. We always surmount that challenge because we gather and rally together to face those challenges, which we face… We almost always come out of it more united and resolute to go forward,” said Katema.
He said Sata’s dream before his demise was to improve the lives of Zambians regardless of their ethnic, socio-economic background or political affiliation. Katema called on Zambians to ensure Sata’s vision is carried forward.
“Let us unite and mourn our beloved president in an honorable and respectful manner,” said Katema. “This is a man who was loved across the breath of the country he was the man for the people and he deserves that. And going forward, we would want that spirit that he had, the spirit of having a big heart for the people of Zambia, especially the marginalized and the poor. He wanted to improve the lives of all [Zambians].”