Chiluba (68) died at his home shortly after midnight after suffering a seizure, his spokesman Emmanuel Mwamba said.
Weeping mourners have gathered outside his house in the suburb of Kabulonga east of capital Lusaka and his body has been taken to a mortuary, according to Mwamba.
He said the diminutive leader — only 1,5 metres (just under five foot) tall — had felt unwell on Friday afternoon. “He had a seizure, the doctor tried to resuscitate him for 10 minutes, but realised he was dead.”
Chiluba leader had been suffering from acute heart and kidney problems, often visiting South Africa for medical care.
“This is a tragic loss, he took a step further to develop this country,” said Richard Shakala, Chiluba’s spokesman during his presidency.
“He had a vision and worked hard even under criticism,” Shakala said.
The office of incumbent President Rupiah Banda was yet to comment on his passing.
Chiluba led the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, a coalition of unions, civic and church groups as well as former Kaunda loyalists who had grown disillusioned with the founding father’s autocratic style. – AFP