A Zambian Hero Kenneth Kaunda leaves Namibian hospital

Kenneth Kaunda

Kenneth Kaunda in Namibia

Zambia’s first post-independence president Kenneth Kaunda has been discharged from a Namibian hospital, his first-born son confirmed Thursday.

“Dr Kaunda is out of hospital today,” said retired Col Panji Kaunda, adding that former president would remain in Namibia for some months before returning to Zambia.

“They (Dr Kaunda and wife Betty) are there for three months. He went to finish his book when he got ill,” said Col Panji.

Dr Kaunda, 87, who ruled Zambia from independence in 1964 until 1991, had been hospitalised in Windhoek where he is writing his long-awaited memoirs.

Unfounded rumours of his death following his hospitalisation had already started circulating, sparking widespread grief in the region.

The former President, a liberation hero in the southern African region, successfully ruled Zambia but later became autocratic through his one-party rule and almost caused the collapse of the copper-dependent economy due to his socialist policies.

The economic hardships led to widespread public discontent and street protests culminating in the reintroduction of multi-party rule that ended Dr Kaunda’s 27-year-reign in 1991 when he was succeeded by late Frederick Chiluba.

Other than in Zambia, the ever-energetic Kaunda despite his advanced age, is hailed as a hero in Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and other countries in the continent for his role in the independence struggle and support to freedom fighters in the sub-region.