Former senator Zephyrin Kalimba breathed the last at King Faysal Hospital in the night of Sunday.
Senate President, Dr. Augustin Iyamuremye has condoled with the bereaved family and comforted them during these difficult times.
“He was a dedicated senator who also worked with organizations advocating for human rights and improved wellbeing of citizens particularly historically marginalized people,” he said.
“He was a zealous senator who performed his duties with diligence that everyone admired him,” added Dr. Iyamuremye.
Indelible memory to colleagues
The Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE), Dr. Jean Damascène Bizimana is among officials who sent condolences to stand in solidarity with the bereaved family.
He has via Twitter handle described Kalimba as an honest man who always shared constructive ideas.
“I remember the truthfulness that characterized you in Senate and sharing of ideas constructive to Rwanda. May your family stay strong during these times of sorrow. We stand in solidarity with you,” Dr. Bizimana said.
Tito Rutaremara also worked with late Kalimba for eight years.
They also worked together in the Senatorial Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Governance.
They were both part of RPF Inkotanyi environment protection committee since 2019.
Rutaremara described him as a zealous man who was keen on finding a solution for citizens’ concerns.
“He was a courageous and committed worker who sympathized with citizens. Kalimba was far sighted with wide experience to dig deeper into root causes of problems affecting communities, “he said.
Apollinaire Mushinzimana who also worked with Kalimba revealed that continuously advocating for citizens prompted the Senate to conduct thorough research to identify problems affecting historically marginalized people.
“He was much concerned about problems facing rural communities. Kalimba often drew attention on climate change effects that hinder farmers from increasing agricultural yields,” he stated.
Rutaremara further disclosed that some members of the public including those who could not afford Mutuelle de Santé would meet Kalimba at the parliament to file their concerns.
“He used to give attention to citizens with different concerns every morning. These include people seeking support, women failing to cater for school fees or spouses mired in disputes. Kalimba would follow up on these issues despite other heavy duties he had to perform at the Senate.
There are citizens who used to seek financial support from him, some of whom had children in need of medical attention while others had expiring community based health insurance. He would often use his money to support them because he was a Good Samaritan,” he said.
Zephyrin Kalimba held different positions before and after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
He worked for gendarmerie, para-military policing unit during the pre-Genocide period and led the Rwandese Community of Potters.
Kalimba is among activists who advocated for the rights of historically marginalized people.
He headed the International Alliance of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of the Tropical Forests in 1997.
Kalimba was among eight senators appointed by President of the Republic in 2012 and held the position until his tenure ended in 2020.
Kalimba died at the age of 63. He leaves a woman and nine children.
He was born in Ruhango district in Southern Province where he studied and pursued secondary education at Karubanda Junior Seminary.
In 1978, he became a gendarme (paramilitary police officer) at the regime of President Juvenal Habyarima for four years and eight months and later worked in the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Kalimba later founded associations that advocated for human rights, particularly, the historically marginalized people.
He also established different schools and organizations supporting people with vulnerable backgrounds particularly historically marginalized ones.
Kalimba will be laid to rest on Thursday 6th January 2021.