By SIMON MUNTEMBA
THOUSANDS of Lusaka residents and many from other parts of the country thronged the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to bid farewell to the city mayor, Wilson Kalumba, the laid back man who planned to transform the capital city but sadly passed on before he could do so.
At some point, it was difficult to tell family from ordinary citizens, as people wept when the body of the late mayor, was wheeled into the Cathedral. Amid hushed tones in the Cathedral, the cries of the children and men believed to be his close relatives could be heard.
The Patriotic Front women’s choir kept vigil outside the church with songs of praise and some in remembrance of the mayor, who won the Lusaka City in 2016, on the PF ticket.
The mayor’s children, with the boys dressed in black suits for and black tops with chitenge wrappers for the girls, took front roll and their unshed tears could be seen as the remains of their dad lay in the casket in front of the church.
Government officials, led by Vice President, Inonge Wina, stood with the family and other politicians and local government representatives from across the country.
Mrs Wina paid tribute to Mayor Kalumba for his many ideas and plans to transform Lusaka.
Other government officials also eulogised the late Kalumba who succumbed to Hypertension on Tuesday, May 15 at Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital.
Mr Kalumba, 54, died at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) after an illness.
It was a solemn moment as hundreds of family members, friends and workmates of the late mayor turned up at Cathedral of the Holy cross to pay their last respects and send him off.
The hearse carrying Mr Kalumba’s casket arrived at the Cathedral around 10:05hours accompanied by the Zambia Army brass band, mayors from other cities. At around 10:30hours, Mr Kalumba’s casket was ushered in the Cathedral and it was received by Cabinet Ministers, PF officials, mayors and councillors from all parts of the country.
Addressing mourners, Ms Wina who described the late mayor as an innovative and idealistic person said government was sadnned by Mr Kalumba’s death. Ms Wina poured praises on the late mayor saying that he was a person who initiated various projects aimed at improving the city of Lusaka.
“He was innovative and idea person who was committed to transformative leadership. He will be remembered for many initiatives he introduced,” Ms Wina said.
She implored the family members to take care of the children left by Mr Kalumba.
And Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale said despite his failing health, Mr Kalumba discharged his duties diligently.
Mr Mwale described the late mayor as a hard worker and a man of his words who improved the local authority.
Mr Mwale said the best way to honour Mr Kalumba was to make sure that his ideas were implemented.
And Patriotic Front (PF) Secretary General Davis Mwila said the ruling party was saddened by the demise of the mayor who worked hard for the people of Lusaka.
Mr Mwila said the ruling party had lost a man of few words adding that PF government would continue to implement the good works initiated by the late mayor.
Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) president Christopher Kang’ombe described Mr Kalumba as a unique and extra ordinary person who conducted himself differently.
Mr Kang’ombe who is Kitwe mayor said Mr Kalumba was a cut from a different cloth who brought out very unique proposals for the benefit of the nation.
Lusaka deputy mayor Chilando Chitambala said Mr Kalumba was a workaholic who always thought outside the box.
Ms Chitambala said the late mayor was not only a frank talker who never missed his words but also a friendly person.
She however complained that the social media judged him harshly and that he never wanted to respond to social media but suffered it quietly.
And paying tributes to their father, the late mayor’s children Nsomboshi and Nelly described him as a loving daddy who wished the best for them.
Nsomboshi said his late father was a strong, honest and hard worker who encouraged them to always work hard.
He was interred at Lusaka’s Leopard hill memorial park at around 14:30hours.