UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the best way to remember Republican Progressive Party (RPP) president James Kasanda Lukuku, who was on Tuesday afternoon put to rest at Leopards Hill Memorial Park in Lusaka, is by fighting for justice and fairness.

Lukuku passed away on Saturday after being admitted to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) following an illness.

Speaking during the funeral service at Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Lusaka, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said Lukuku had dedicated his life to fighting for fairness.

“All our members across political parties, the clergy and, indeed, fellow mourners, time is not with us. We would have said a lot of things about our young brother, president Lukuku, but time is not with us. Time is not with us because things that are supposed to be normal, such as a post-mortem takes hours, files go missing as though James was sick for a long time. James was only sick for a few days, how does a file go missing? You create suspicions in the minds of family, in the minds of all of us, but it is a demonstration of the breakdown in systems, the breakdown in institutions leading to, if you like, absence of fairness and injustice to citizens of our country. This is what president Lukuku was fighting against such as what happened this morning,” said Hichilema.

“We need to apologise to the mourners that have been here long, it is because systems have collapsed in the country and across all spheres of life, things have collapsed. That is what James fought against, that is what James represented. Our interactions with James were broad, they were deep. We reached a point where we had gone beyond political party comradeship. I want to thank the family for allowing us as James’ extended family, as James’ colleagues in the political struggle for a better Zambia. I want to thank party leaders for supporting James, even in his death, this is what we want this country to be, this is what we want citizens of this country to be across the 10 provinces of the country. Let us work more towards inclusion and not exclusion, work towards love and not hatred, but also a just society is all James and all of us are looking for in this country nothing more and I guess nothing less, because this is the only country we have.”

And National Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili said it was disheartening that government had not sent a message of condolences to the Lukuku family.

“James, I came to know you when you were in MMD as provincial secretary, very young and vibrant, committed. You wanted a better Zambia. You went into politics, not for positions, but to contribute. If it was not so, you could have been in PF because at one time, you were PF, but you decided to remain in the opposition because your political journey was nothing, but a service to humanity and make Zambia a better place to live. My young brother, I can only say you run your race, you fought your fight, may your soul rest in eternal peace,” said Kambwili.

“Fellow mourners, my heart bleeds today, if this is the way we are going to handle politics in Zambia then we are not fit to be called human beings. I am extremely disappointed that from the time James died, there has not even been a word from the ruling party and the government. Even a word of saying condolences just because he was in the opposition. If it was somebody in the ruling party, all public newspapers, the entire ZNBC could have been [filled] with messages of condolences, but because James was in the opposition, those in government are not even here. This country has got a Minister of Religious Affairs (Rev Godfridah Sumaili) who is paid by taxpayers’ money and I personally expected that she was going to send a message of condolences to the Lukuku family, but alas! To no avail. You people in government should be ashamed of yourselves! Politics is not about only those who are in government and politics must not make us look like we are sworn enemies, we are supposed to be a brother’s keeper and live side by side as all citizens of Zambia.”