[By Oliver Chisenga and Masuzyo Chakwe]
SIMON Zukas’ contribution to the liberation of Zambia can only at best be equaled but certainly not surpassed, says Vernon Mwaanga.
In a statement on the passing of freedom icon Zukas on September 28, Mwaanga – a veteran politician and freedom fighter – said no history of Zambia will be written without providing generous space “for this great icon”.
“I am shocked and saddened by the death of Simon Zukas whose contribution to the liberation of Zambia can only at best be equaled but certainly not surpassed,” he said. “From his early days as an engineering student at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, he was an advocate of freedom and independence for Zambia.” Mwaanga recalled that upon his return to Zambia, the British government regarded Zukas as a dangerous “nuisance” and forcibly deported him to the United Kingdom.
He however, said the deportation did not dampen Zukas’ spirit, “in fact it re-energised him”.
“Working with the then representatives of UNIP, Mainza Chona and later Bitwell Kuwani, he continued speaking out against colonialism and lobbying British members of parliament, pressuring them to support independence for Northern Rhodesia as well as for the break-up of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, which was imposed on the black majority in 1953 by the British government,” Mwaanga said.
He said he first met Zukas and his wife Cynthia in London early in 1963 consequently had very long educative discussions.
Mwaanga said after independence in October 1964, one of the first decisions made by president Kenneth Kaunda was to invite Zukas and his family to immediately return to Zambia.
“I interacted with him on many occasions. We worked together to remove UNIP from power in 1991. After he contested and won a parliamentary seat in Western Province in the October elections of October 1991, he was appointed into cabinet by president Frederick Chiluba where we served together,” he recalled.
Mwaanga said Zukas was hard working, spoke his mind all the time and was typical example of a selfless person who had a passion for service to country and not to self.
He said no history of Zambia would be written without providing generous space for the great icon.
“My deepest and heartfelt condolences to his wife Cynthia who stood by him in good and bad times. May the Lord receive him and grant this icon everlasting peace,” said Mwaanga.
And via Twitter Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa said, “Simon Zukas, one of Zambia’s independence heroes and most admired figures, has died aged 96. Low-key and lacking in self-interest, Zukas embodied a genuine commitment to progress, democracy and equality.”
Meanwhile, UPND Alliance council of presidents says it is comforted that the late Zukas leaves behind a legacy worth learning from, especially his dedication to genuinely serving the people.
Republican Progressive Party (RPP) president and UPND Alliance spokesperson Leslie Chikuse said the council had learnt with overwhelming sadness, the passing of the veteran politician and revolutionary fighter.
“To us, Dr Zukas embodied the progressive democratic values that led to the consolidation of the UPND Alliance by Zambians ahead of the August 12 general election till victory was in the people’s favour. We are thus, comforted that Dr Zukas leaves behind a legacy worth learning from, especially his dedication to genuinely serving the people. At the return of plural politics in 1991, he became the first MMD member of parliament for Sikongo Constituency in a remote part of the Western Province,” Chikuse said. “It was this sense of solidarity with fellow Zambians that saw him get deported from a country he dearly loved by the colonial government, prior to independence in 1964. Even as we extend our deepest condolence to his widow and life-long friend, Cynthia Zukas, we want to thank this great family for having allowed Zambians from all walks of life to share in this inspiring political journey.”
He said whereas, this was a sorrow-filled moment, the council celebrates Zukas’ life by constantly reminding themselves that for the UPND Alliance, politics was about servant leadership, equitable distribution of the national wealth, and not selfish agendas of amassing wealth corruptly.
“Rest in peace our political mentor,” said Chikuse.