PRETORIA – 1st November, 2014 – ZAMBIANS across South Africa yesterday held memorial church services to celebrate the life of His Excellency Mr. Michael Sata, who passed away on 28th October, 2014.
In Johannesburg, several tearful congregants thronged Our Lady of the Wayside Parish Catholic Church in Maryvale to pay their respects to the departed head of state. The service was presided over by two Zambian Catholic Priests, Father Vincent Chileya and Father Evans Chendaeka, both based in South Africa.
Father Chileya said President Sata was a well-known person to many in Zambia because he associated with people regardless of their background. The priest who said he had personal experience with the late President described Mr. Sata as a warm person who always loved to joke.
Father Chileya remembered that President Sata was so connected to God such that he would attend more than one church service in a day at Lusaka’s Saint Ignatius Catholic Church.
He advised all those grieving over the death of President Sata to realise that death was part of life and that “our wishes are different from God’s wishes.”
“Even when we know that death is a reality, we still find it difficult to accept but I urge everyone to realize that this is part of the journey that we will all go through,” Father Chileya said.
And Charge d’ Affaires at Zambia’s High Commission to South Africa, Mr. Joe Kaunda, said it was sad that Zambia was again already in mourning after the passing of third President, Mr. Levy Mwanawasa in 2008.
Mr. Kaunda said although expected that everyone will die one day, the passing of President Sata came as a shock not only to Zambia, but the world as a whole. He said the name ‘Michael Chilufya Sata’ had become so much a part of people’s lives such that it was never imagined that there will ever be a time without the person to whom the name belonged.
“Someone as special and with unique leadership qualities as President Sata will never be forgotten. He will remain in our hearts for as long as we live,” he said.
Describing President Sata as a visionary and hardworking leader, Mr. Kaunda catalogued some of the milestones achieved during the late President’s reign. He pointed out that Zambia’s economy grew by more than six percent per annum, well above the Sub- Saharan Africa average, while inflation has been contained within single-digits. The export sector, especially non-traditional exports grew significantly with agriculture exports exceeding US$1 billion dollars, the highest in the history of the country.
He said Zambians have also witnessed an unprecedented focus on capital investment in social and economic infrastructure, particularly in health, education, roads, railways, and energy sectors. He noted that the Industrialisation and Job Creation Strategy which President Sata ensured was in place, was now bearing fruit as seen through a sustained increase in additional jobs and incomes.
Mr. Kaunda further noted that as a mark of growing investor confidence, Foreign Direct Investment has continued to grow reaching the peak of US $1.73 billion in 2012, the highest in 12 years.
“This is a reflection of the improved investment environment in the country, made possible by policy consistency and workable pro-private sector strategies under the able leadership of our departed hero,” Mr. Kaunda said.
He further described President Sata as a man who loved his family; his country; the vulnerable in society, but most of all, that he loved God.
Mr. Kaunda encouraged the first family and the nation to remain united and strong.
Members of President Sata’s family who attended the service were later asked to move to the front after which the two priests prayed for them.
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