Thousands of Zambians yesterday thronged the Cathedral of the Child Jesus for the burial of the late Cardinal Medardo Mazombwe at the Cathedral of the Child Jesus with the government eulogising Zambia’s first indigenous Cardinal as a man of rare wisdom.
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda who represented President Michael Sata described the deceased as a man of rare wisdom who had dedicated his entire life to serving humanity particularly the poor, vulnerable and voiceless.
Chikwanda said although Cardinal Mazombwe had died, his values and morals would live forever, and called on the clergy to emulate the late prelate.
He recalled that when Zambia was turning to multipartism in 1991, Cardinal Mazombwe was instrumental in championing its introduction.
And Lusaka Vicar General Oliver Mukunta paid tribute to Cardinal Mazombwe for strongly advocating for the cancellation of Zambia’s foreign debt.
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Lusaka Telesphore Mpundu told mourners that Cardinal Mazombwe’s last words were ‘peace, peace, peace and this is the countdown’.
Archbishop Mpundu said Cardinal Mazombwe had died after a thirteen months struggle with cancer and that the Cardinal would dearly be missed by the church.
Archbishop Mpundu said death was the most effective way of uniting people and called on Zambians to think of peace because that was what the late Cardinal believed in.
The burial was attended by among others UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, Alliance for a Better Zambia’s Fr Frank Bwalya, Forum for Development and Democracy’s Edith Nawakwi, and National Restoration Party’s Elias Chipimo, and was characterised by solemn music and prayer.
However, noticeably absent was President Michael Sata with his wife Dr Christine Kaseba who was scheduled to arrive at the Cathedral of Child Jesus at about 08:30 hours, but was later said to have sent an apology owing to “a sudden and urgent national issue that needed his attention”.
President Sata was officially scheduled to lead hundreds of mourners to the Pope Square where Zambia’s first indigenous Cardinal was to be buried but the head of state cancelled his official engagement just before the event was set to commence
With the red carpet rolled, the security detail that included state police and other security personnel alert and in position, the master of ceremony announced that the President was not going to be part of the burial ceremony of late Cardinal Mazombwe.
No national mourning had been declared for the Cardinal despite the eminent position and respect he enjoyed in the church and wider community both at home and abroad.