Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
LUSAKA - Southern African leaders gathered in Zambia yesterday at the funeral of President Levy Mwanawasa, who turned Africa's biggest copper producer into a rare African success story.
Thousands of Zambians attended the funeral and were seated in tents erected at the parliamentary complex in the capital Lusaka. National flags flew at half-mast.
Mwanawasa, 59, died in a French military hospital last month after suffering a stroke in June. He had led Zambia since 2001 and was re-elected in 2006.
President Thabo Mbeki, Botswana's leader Seretse Ian Khama and the presidents of Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi also attended the funeral.
Mwanawasa's copper-plated coffin was placed about five metres from the dais where leaders and officials were sitting.
Mwanawasa set himself apart from other regional leaders by speaking out about the political and economic crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe, and was one of the fiercest critics of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe - who attended the funeral.
His tough stance against corruption in Zambia endeared him to donor countries.
Mwanawasa's economic policies helped produce strong growth averaging 5percent annually over the last six years, though many Zambians still live in poverty.
Vice-President Rupiah Banda is acting president, and a presidential election is expected in November.
Mwanawasa's widow Maureen told mourners at the funeral: "He was the father of all. It is the orphans he took care of that bring pain to my throat; they are orphaned again". - Reuters