TRADITIONAL leaders across the country, led by House of Chiefs Chairperson senior Chief Luembe, yesterday joined mourners in paying tribute to late fourth republican president Rupiah Banda.

Speaking on behalf of the chiefs, senior chief Luembe said the traditional leaders would continue to cherish Banda’s contribution to the nation.

“As Chiefs, we are saddened by the untimely death of our former president Rupiah Banda. We shall continue cherishing his contribution to the nation. He was the president for all Zambians and as Chiefs, we will greatly miss him,” he said.

Chief Luembe encouraged Banda’s widow, Thandiwe, to remain strong and put everything in God’s hands.

“Our encouragement to you, our dear lady on behalf of all the chiefs is to put everything in God’s hands, the one who knows everything. He is the one who knows our lives. We encourage you to continue being strong and thank God for the life of our dear former president,” he encouraged.

And Banda’s family spokesperson Fisho Mwale thanked the traditional leaders for joining the nation in mourning the late president.

“We want to thank the chiefs for finding time to come and mourn with us here. We are honoured to be graced by the house of chiefs who are the representatives and custodians of our nation and its tradition. The late former president was your son and your coming here is a blessing to us. We thank you for coming to mourn with us,” he said.

Earlier, late second Republican president Fredrick Chiluba’s children described Banda as a man who loved peace.

Speaking shortly after signing the book of condolences at Belvedere lodge, Darlington Chiluba and Mikoyani Chiluba said Banda would be remembered as someone who cherished peace and unity by facilitating a smooth transfer of power from PF to UPND.

“The late fourth Republican president Rupiah Banda will be remembered as someone who cherished peace and unity. He facilitated the smooth transfer of power from PF to UPND. He was a great pillar that stood on the side of our late father. He will be remembered by us for that. He loved peace. He was a peaceful man. And so, we also want to thank President Hakainde Hichilema for reaching out to former sixth president Edgar Lungu to mourn the demise of the fourth president Banda. We further want to urge the Banda family to look up to God for solace during this difficult time,” Mikoyani said.

Meanwhile, Zambia Qualifications Authority chief executive officer Miriam Chiyaba said Banda played a key role in strengthening the education sector in the country.

“Our late fourth president Rupiah Banda will be remembered as a president who played a key role in strengthening the education sector in the Country. I remember it was during his administration when proper qualification on education was recognised. It is a big loss to the nation and as an institution, we shall always remain thankful for his contribution towards the education sector,” said Chiyaba.

Among the Chiefs that visited the place of mourning included; Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II of the Soli people, Chief Nyamphande of the Nsenga people, Chief Bunda Bunda and Chief Chikanta.