AN outpouring grief gripped Ndola yesterday as the body of late Patriotic Front Member of the Central Committee (MCC) Willie Nsanda arrived from South Africa ahead of burial today.
Hordes of people thronged the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport as PF cadres sung solemn songs in honour of Mr Nsanda, while the people somberly waited for the South African Airways plane 096 carrying his remains to arrive.
Acting President Inonge Wina who led Mr Nsanda’s family and people from all walks of life braved the rains to receive Mr Nsanda’s body at the airport.
Cabinet Ministers, Provincial Ministers, senior Government officials, parastatal heads and members of the PF Central Committee were also present to witness the arrival.
The plane touched down at 12:30 hours and Zambia Army pallbearers were on hand to lift the casket off the plane.
Ms Wina broke down as the pallbearers carried Mr Nsanda’s body past her onto the Ideal Funerals-hired hearse for departure to Kitwe.
Mr Nsanda’s body departed Ndola for Kitwe at 13:00 hours where it would lie in state for burial today.
Among the Cabinet Ministers present at the airport were Information Minister Chishimba Kambwili, Home Affairs Minister Davis Mwila and Community Development Minister Emerine Kabanshi.
Information Deputy Minister Forrie Tembo and his counterpart in the office of the Vice president Stephen Kampyongo were also among the gathering.
Provincial Ministers present included Mwenya Musenge for Copperbelt, Freedom Sikazwe for Northern and Obvious Mwaliteta for Lusaka.
President Edgar Lungu accorded Mr Nsanda, who was also Road Development Agency (RDA) board chairperson, a State funeral and declared today as national mourning.
Many more people received the body on arrival in Kitwe, in readiness for burial and had gathered at the former Chimwemwe Member of Parliament’s home in Garneton.
Ms Wina visited the funeral home where she spent time with Mr Nsanda’s family members.
She said Mr Nsanda would not be easy to replace and that his death had not only affected his family but all Zambians.
Ms Wina, who also conveyed President Edgar Lungu’s message of condolences, said Mr Nsanda was a strong and committed PF member who supported late President Michael Sata and his successor when things where tough.
She said President Lungu was heartbroken and felt he should have been home to mourn Mr Nsanda.
Ms Wina said the PF was grateful for the work Mr Nsanda did and urged mourners to emulate him so that the party can move forward.
Mr Nsanda will be put to rest today at Nkana East Cemetery. He died last week in South Africa where he had been receiving treatment.
By JAMES KUNDA and MAYA NTANDA – TIMES