Hundreds mourn Sakeni

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HUNDREDS of residents yesterday converged on the Cathedral of the Child Jesus in Lusaka to pay their last respects to Kennedy Sakeni, the Information and Broadcasting Services minister who died on Thursday after battling with cancer.
President Sata led hundreds of dignitaries, who included first Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, First Lady Christine Kaseba, MMD president Nevers Mumba, People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti and NAREP president Elias Chipimo Jr.
Former first ladies Vera Chiluba Tembo and Maureen Mwanawasa were also in attendance and so were ministers, diplomats, Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini and secretaries to Cabinet and Treasury Roland Msiska and Fredson Yamba, respectively.
In his epitaph for the late minister, President Sata said the death of Mr Sakeni, 56, is a big blow to the nation, the Cabinet and his family.
He described the minister as a national leader of great character who was level-headed and his deeds were based on sincerity.
“I knew Honourable Sakeni as a man with strong values of sincerity. He stood for good values, which he will be remembered for,” President Sata said.
The President said the Patriotic Front and Government have been robbed of a leader whose contribution to national development was still needed.
“Once again, the cold hand of death has gathered us here…we are devastated and our sadness cannot be measured. We reflect over and over on how we will get over this,” the President said.
Mr Sata said the death is very sad, especially for Mr Sakeni’s family but “God is in control.
“We ask the Almighty God to grant the family of Mr Sakeni strength and courage during this hard period of mourning. Go well Honourable, rest in peace,” President Sata said.
And Mr Sakeni’s widow Lillian said she will deeply miss her husband who was her friend, lover and father of her children.
In her tribute to Mr Sakeni read by Violet Lungu, Mrs Sakeni said she was grateful for the opportunity to be with him.
“You were like a brother to me…a close friend who was there not only for me but for others who needed help, I will miss you,” she said.
Mr Sakeni’s son Vincent said his father taught the family to love and care for others.
“As you always said, we will work hard and remember all your teachings… we promise to live by your teachings and we will be there for each other,” Vincent said.
And St Ignatius Catholic Parish Priest Father Charles Chilinda who presided over the mass described Mr Sakeni as a man who was dedicated to God.
“Each time I called him and needed his assistance, he would be there for the church… he was respectful of everyone,” Fr Chilinda said.
Minister of Labour Fackson Shamenda said it is a pity that Mr Sakeni did not get enough time to see the stabilisation of the PF government.
“As can be seen from the number of people gathered here, there is no doubt that Mr Sakeni was a great man whose contribution could have enhanced the country’s development,” Mr Shamenda said.
And Mr Mulongoti said Mr Sakeni was a humble and wonderful man.
“We will miss him, he was a good man who focused on making a difference in the things he was doing,” Mr Mulongoti said.
MMD President Nevers Mumba said Mr Sakeni who once served as Luapula Province MMD Chairman was a great asset to Zambia who made a tremendous contribution to democracy.
“We send our sincere condolences to the Sakeni family and appeal to all Zambians to stand with the family as they mourn Mr Sakeni,” Mr Mumba said.
Mr Sakeni will be buried at Mushinka Village in Chief Mwansakombe, Samfya tomorrow.
Today the body will be flown to Mansa where it will lie in state till Tuesday.
Meanwhile, TEDDY KUYELA reports that former President Rupiah Banda has sent a message of condolences to President Sata on the death of Mr Sakeni.
The former President has also wished President Sata the strength to bear the loss of the Mansa Central parliamentarian and Chief Government spokesperson.
This is according to a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday by Mr Banda’s deputy administrative assistant Kennedy Limwanya.
“Having served in your position before, I know how it feels to lose a dedicated member of your party and Cabinet. It is my prayer that the almighty God grants you the strength to go through this difficult period,” Mr Banda said.
In his message addressed to the head of State, Mr Banda also requested President Sata to convey his condolences to the Sakeni family.
And NKOMBO KACHEMBA reports from Kitwe that Kawambwa District Commissioner Ivo Mpasa has described Mr Sakeni as a selfless man who contributed greatly to reducing illiteracy levels in Luapula by supporting vulnerable children in school.
Mr Mpasa said in a statement released in Kitwe yesterday that Mr Sakeni played a huge role in ensuring that vulnerable children had access to education.
“Mr Sakeni was a good and humble man…he was my mentor and my friend. He educated a lot of children in Kawambwa, even those who were not his relatives,” he said.
Mr Mpasa said the people of Luapula are deeply saddened by the death of Mr Sakeni whom they loved dearly because of his good deeds.
He said Mr Sakeni interacted with everyone regardless of their social status and offered advice to those who needed it.

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