Zambia remembers Michael Sata one year later

Zambians were on Wednesday to mark one year since the death of Michael Sata.
The late president who died at 77 in a London hospital left an enormous legacy as an action man during his political career spanning over 30 years.
He was the second Zambian head of state to die in office after Levy Mwanawasa in 2008.
Official commemorations were to include an interfaith prayer service early Wednesday at his former parish of St Ignatius in the upmarket area of Rhodespark, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony and a gospel concert was scheduled for later in Lusaka.
A gruff populist, Sata built the Patriotic Front (PF) party from scratch in 2001 until it won power in 2011, beating the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and ending its 20-year stay in power.
He had left the MMD after being sidelined in a succession wrangle by Zambia’s second president Frederick Chiluba, who had been his close ally. Sata then became the party’s fiercest critic.
Born in 1937, he was raised as a devout Catholic and later worked as a police officer, railway man and trade unionist during colonial rule.
After independence, he spent time in London as a railway porter, and then back in Zambia he worked for a taxidermist company.
Infrastructure drive
After winning the Presidency at his fourth attempt when he beat incumbent Rupiah Banda, he ruled for three years before succumbing to illness.
Government officials had long denied his illness.
His last appearance in public was in September 2014 when he opened parliament and afterwards left for New York for the UN General Assembly meetings.
Known for his dry jokes, he remarked while in Parliament the last time, ”I’m not dead.”
In Northern Zambia where he hailed from he enjoyed massive support. He liked to identify with the poor and the disaantaged.
“Sata was fearless and resilient. He was not afraid to make mistakes. And he spoke the language of the common man,” said a Catholic priest, Fr Lastone Lupupa.
Zambia’s fourth president is especially remembered for having launched a massive infrastructure drive to build roads across the countryside.
He had worked his way up through Zambia’s scorched earth politics.
Many middle class women remember him for promoting them to top positions during his three-year rule.
Street vendors remember him for being sympathetic to their plight.