THE body of Zambia’s former First Lady, Betty Kaunda, was flown home to Zambia on Thursday after she died in Harare on Wednesday aged 83.
She died in her sleep while visiting her daughter Musata Kaunda-Banda who lives in Borrowdale Brooke, officials said.
Zambian President Michael Sata and his deputy Guy Scott were at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport to welcome the body, along with hundreds of mourners.
Sata declared three days of mourning as he announced a state funeral for the late wife of Zambia’s founding father, President Kenneth Kaunda.
Kaunda attended a funeral service held in Harare before the body was flown to Zambia, accompanied by several Zanu PF officials including national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, party spokesman Rugare Gumbo, and politburo members Nicholas Goche, Kumbirai Kangai, Oppah Muchinguri and Victoria Chitepo.
President Robert Mugabe was informed of Betty Kaunda’s death hours before he left for the United Nations summit in New York on Wednesday, Khaya Moyo said.
In a condolence message, the Zanu PF chairman said: “Our President left for New York a very disturbed man, and he thought it prudent that we accompany you with the body of our mother across the Zambezi (River).
“This burden is not an easy burden to carry, that is why we want to assist you in carrying it.”
Roland Msiska, the Zambian Cabinet secretary, said Sata had declared three days of national mourning starting on Friday through Sunday.
During the period of national mourning, all flags will fly at half-mast and activities of entertainment nature should be postponed or cancelled.
Burial is set for Lubwa Mission in Chinsali district on Sunday.
President Kaunda and Betty had 10 children, 30 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.