The requiem mass of the late People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti yesterday brought to life old MMD bigwigs who gathered to send off one of their compatriots.

Among those who paid their last respects to to the former Works and Supply minister were former first lady Dr Maureen Mwanawasa, former MMD vice president Enock Kavindele, former MMD national chairperson Michael Mabenga, former advisor to late President Mwanawasa Jack Kalala, former secretary to the treasury Sketchley Sachika, and former Fisheries and Livestock minister Grayford Monde.

Others were former Labour minister Fackson Shamenda, former Home Affairs minister Lameck Mangani, former Commerce and Trades minister Bob Sichinga, former High Commissioner to South Africa Leslie Mbula, first and second deputy speakers of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala and Mwimba Malama as well as current MMD faction national chairperson Rapheal Nakacinda.

And speaking through Religious Affairs Minister Godfridah Sumaili at the event, President Edgar Lungu said he hopped Mulongoti would recover.

“Government received the news of the death of Honourable Mulongoti with a deep sense of sadness. This is because both the government and its family were confident that following his return from South Africa where he had been evacuated for a specialist treatment, he would recover so that he could continue making his valuable contributions to the welfare of the family and the nation at large. During this moment of grief, sorrow and pain, it is important that all of us from various walks of life provide needed support to the Mulongoti family,” President Lungu said.

And opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema described Mulongoti as a clear thinker who was strong in and out.

“We all agree that things were not okay in our country, we may pretend but it’s true that things are not okay in our country. Brief conversations led to us concluding that the country was experiencing a breakdown in the rule of law and president Mulongoti was very critical and concerned like we were. The country was losing respect for human rights and that is true. And president Mulongoti was strong about that, and that violence was getting out of hand in our country and we needed to address this issue. And that too was one of the critical issues that we agreed to address as an opposition alliance amongst many other things,” Hichilema said.

“President Mulongoti was a very clear thinker on these issues. When he fell ill and I went to see him in South Africa, the first thing he said was ‘HH, you know why we came together as an alliance. I am coming back home to strengthen the alliance. I am hearing things [but] I am coming back’. the last day of him to share life with us [was when] I went to see him at UTH and he wasn’t speaking clearly. So I leaned over. I noticed he wanted to say something and he was whispering [to say] ‘HH I hear you had an opposition alliance press briefing, sorry I let you down. I should have been there with you.’ How many of us can think about the people when we are on our death bed?”

And in paying tribute to her husband, Mulongoti’s wife Betty said Mulongoti was many things to many people.

“A tribute to my soul mate, my best friend, my husband and my prayer partner. 33 years we lived together, a million tears won’t bring you back and I know this because I have cried. You are so wonderful to think of and so hard to be without. You were so many things to so many people.