Speech by His Excellency, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia delivered at The State Funeral of Her Ladyship, Hon Mrs. Justice Irene Chirwa Mambilima, Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia

KK with Mambilima

Flanked by First Lady Esther Lungu, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu at State Funeral Justice Irene Chirwa Mambilima, Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia at the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross

Saturday, 26th June, 2021

State House


  • To Retired Major Joseph Mambilima and family;
  • Brothers and Sisters in Christ;
  • Fellow Mourners.

The nation has been gripped with shock and owe for the past one month. We have lost his Excellency, Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, our founding father, father of this great nation, Zambia. And before we could come to terms with this huge loss, we lose another great Zambian – her ladyship, the Chief Justice.

The lady, who has brought us here today, has left all of us in shock. We are still shocked because as we have heard from most speakers, her death was least expected.

KK with Mambilima

It is even more painful that she was stricken and departed us while away from home and her family.

The death of Justice Mambilima is heart-breaking because she was fine when she departed for Egypt on official duties.

When information reached me that she was unwell, I directed responsible departments to ensure that she was flown back home, including sending an aircraft and an air ambulance. Unfortunately that was not to be and we lost her.

This is a heavy burden on me. This is a heavy burden on government. This is a heavy burden on the people of Zambia.

Indeed, a dark cloud is hanging on Zambia. We have lost great people in a very short space of time. We have lost former ministers; businessmen; health workers including, doctors; and ordinary people we might not call VIPS but indeed they all matter to me.

I might not have personally met you, but if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, I grieve with you. My sympathies to you.  Just yesterday, I lost permanent secretary, a man of god in the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs.

But god I know you are there. You have not abandoned us. You have not abandoned our nation. We are a Christian nation.

Late Justice Irene Chirwa Mambilima, Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia

And we know you will answer our prayers. Like job in the holy bible, lord, I say blessed be your name! Blessed be your name!

In justice Mambilima, we have lost an icon of justice and a leading jurist. At the same time, we have been left with a living memory of a true defender of the rule of law. Justice Mambilima served her country with diligence and impeccable integrity for forty-four years in both public service and the justice sector. She lived a life of service right to the very end.

The lady to be interred today is a great example, especially among our girls, that you young lady can be whatever you want to be if you put your mind to it.   Irene Mambilima was a girl raised in a humble community in Lusaka at a time when the girl-child was disadvantaged as far as education was concerned.

But she eluded those stereotypes, excelled at secondary school, studied law at university and rose to the highest office of the judiciary.

Many people may have come to know about this gallant daughter of Zambia when she chaired the Electoral Commission of Zambia, and presided over the presidential and general elections in 2006, 2011 and 2015.  These were hard fought for elections but justice Mambilima’s experience and exemplary character prevailed.

No wonder she became the first Zambian female Chief Justice in February 2015.

Justice Mambilima was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a guardian to many. I pray to god almighty to provide major Mambilima and the family, and all who knew justice Mambilima, the solace and fortitude to bear this very painful loss.

Fellow mourners,

May I take this opportunity, on behalf of the judiciary and the people of Zambia, and indeed on my own behalf, to convey our deepest gratitude to his Excellency, Abdel Fattah al-sisi, President of the government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and their Justices at the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt for assistance rendered.

Late Irene Chirwa Mambilima’s casket before departure to Lusaka, Zambia from Egypt

Justice Mambilima acquitted herself beyond measure. She will be greatly missed by all.

May The Soul of Justice Irene Chirwa Mambilima Rest in Eternal Peace.

God bless you all!

I thank you.


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