PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has urged citizens to mourn the fourth republican president, Rupiah Banda who died at his home in Lusaka, Friday evening, with dignity and respect.

Meanwhile, Veteran Politician Vernon Mwaanga has described the late as a gentle giant, who always opted for friendship as opposed to confrontation.

Addressing the nation on the death of the former president, President Hichilema said the date of burial would be announced in due course.

“Fellow citizens, it’s with great sadness that we announce to the nation the death of Zambia’s fourth republican president, His Excellency president Rupiah Bwezani Banda who died today, the 11th of March, 2022 at his home in Lusaka. We pray that God comforts the bereaved family and we as a nation join them in mourning president Banda. We recognize with fondness his long and illustrious career in public service and we appreciate his service to our nation. Let us all mourn president Banda with dignity and respect. The country is now in national mourning. The date of burial will be announced in due course. May the soul of the late president Rupiah Bwezani Banda rest in eternal peace,” said President Hichilema.

In his tribute to the late fourth republican president, Mwaanga said the passing of his brother and long-time friend had devasted him beyond belief.

“The passing of my brother and long time friend Rupiah Bwezani Banda, has devasted me beyond belief. We have been more than close, for more than six decades. He was a gentle giant, who always opted for friendship as opposed to confrontation. We stood tall together in times of sorrow and happiness. He was an accomplished diplomat and statesman. He looked for positives in people, rather than their weaknesses. Zambia has lost one of its greatest sons, at a time when his vast experience and knowledge were most needed,” stated Mwaanga.

“We traversed the world promoting and defending Zambia and Africa at large. His passing will leave a vacuum in my heart, which I will live with for the rest of my life. He bravely put up with severe pain during  last days of his life like a brave soldier. May the Lord receive him in his Kingdom, forgive him his trespasses and grant him everlasting peace. His work on earth and legacy, will live on forever.”