Zambia’s fourth President, Rupiah Bwezani Banda has died. He was 85.
Rupiah Banda was the presdident of Zambia from 2008 to 2011.
He was fondly called the President for all Zambians. A very cheerful & humble man. Rupiah Banda, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2020.
— Musonda Mulenga (@musondamulengah) March 11, 2022
As President, Rupia Banda was committed to improving Zambia’s economy to ensure security, stability and prosperity for all Zambians. In particular, he works to improve health care and education, increase agricultural production, and ensure and increase employment opportunities in Zambia, especially for people in rural areas.
President Banda belonged to a generation of young people involved in Zambia’s anti-colonial struggle. At the age of 27, he became Zambia’s first ambassador to Egypt. He left office in 1967, the year of the Six-Day War. At the age of 30, he was the ambassador of Zambia to the United States and moved to Washington, D.C.
In 1970, he was named general manager of the National Agricultural Marketing Board of the National Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NAMBOARD). He then became the head of the Rural Development Corporation (RDC), a state-owned agricultural holding company, one of the largest state-owned conglomerates at the time.
In 1974, President Banda became Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. From 1975, he served as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Zambia at a pivotal moment in Southern African history. At the time, Zambia’s diplomacy was focused on the liberation of southern Africa, and Zambia played a vital role in events and initiatives that brought about a settlement.
Zambia’s continued interest in liberating the region means its foreign minister is one of the key figures in the diplomacy and events that ultimately lead to the region’s liberation. As such, Banda is well known and has interacted extensively with many contemporary leaders in the region.
He also chaired the UN Council for Namibia, which was effectively the government of Namibia, while the issue of South Africa’s contentious mandate to the territory was being resolved.
He also held the position of senior district governor of Lusaka, serving as the political and administrative head of Zambia’s capital.
Following the 2006 parliamentary elections, he was appointed Vice-President of the Dr. government. Levi Mwanawasa was selected. He assumed the presidency of Mwanawasa following Mwanawasa’s stroke in June 2008, and became acting president following Mwanawasa’s death in August 2008. A candidate for the multi-party Democratic ruling movement, he won the presidential election in October 2008. When he was re-elected in September 2011, he was defeated by opposition leader Michael Sala.