LATE Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Kennedy Sakeni managed to successfully deregulate and depoliticise the public media, Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu has said.
Mr Lungu said the public media namely, Times of Zambia, Zambia National Broadcasting Services (ZNBC), and Zambia Daily Mail have now become the envy of the public with the unbiased, balanced and professional approach to news coverage.
Mr Lungu made the remarks during the burial of Mr Sakeni who was given a heroes sendoff with a three-gun salute by the Zambia Army as a mark of honour.
He was put to rest yesterday in Mushinka Village, Samfya District in Luapula Province.
Mr Sakeni who was 56 died last week on Thursday and is survived by a wife, Lillian and 13 children.
“With Mr Sakeni’s leadership, Government has managed to deregulate and depoliticise the public media, and results are there for all to see,” he said.
Mr Lungu, who was representing Government, said with Mr Sakeni at the helm of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, Government scored landmark achievements, which included the operationlisation of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
Other achievements were enhancement of the flow and public access to information, which was one of the key priorities on Government’s development agenda.
Mr Lungu said Mr Sakeni was a pragmatic and focused leader as evidenced by the actualisation of the IBA, which is now operating at Mass Media Complex in Lusaka.
“The IBA is now operational and is set to contribute significantly to the growth of the electronic media in the country,” Mr Lungu said.
He said Mr Sakeni’s highly productive stay at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services resulted in the issuance of licenses for the establishment of the ‘record breaking’ 17 community and commercial radio stations and television stations in short space of time.
Mr Lungu said this brought to over 70, the number of community and commercial radio stations now on air countrywide.
As Chief Government spokesperson, he said, Mr Sakeni proved pivotal in guiding the nation on various Government policies and pronouncements in the development of the country.
Mr Lungu said Mr Sakeni’s successful track record extended beyond Zambia as the late minister on the international level led the country’s election as a member of the United Nations Committee on Information in New York early this year.
At the same occasion, Patriotic Front (PF) Secretary General Wynter Kabimba said the party had lost committed, loyal, and selfless leader in Mr Sakeni who was also PF Mansa Central Member of Parliament (MP).
Mr Kabimba who is Justice Minister said the late minister stood for good values of peace, loyalty and commitment to the party and the President.
The PF Secretary General sent mourners into laughter when he recounted how Mr Sakeni scolded him when he and Defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba had stopped talking to each following their differences some time back.
“Now that Kennedy is gone, GBM you should not start a fight because Kennedy will not be here to separate us,” he said amid laughter from mourners.
And Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibin’s representative Garry Nkombo said it was gratifying that Mr Sakeni held ministerial positions under all the governments in which he served.
Earlier, a family representative, Webby Mwansa, thanked Government and in particular President Michael Sata for giving the late minister a dignified funeral.
Almost all Cabinet ministers and notable among them; Mr Mwamba, Fackson Shamenda for Labour, Commerce Minister Emmanuel Chenda, Chishimba Kambwili for Sports, Christopher Yaluma for Mines, John Phiri for Education and his Local Government and Housing counterpart Emerine Kabanshi attended the burial procession.
Also in attendance were deputy ministers, permanent secretaries and other senior Government officials.
Heads of public media institutions namely Godfrey Malama from Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail’s Isaac Chipampe and Chibamba Kanyama from ZNBC were also in attendance.
Kabwata MP Given Lubinda who is former Information Minister and MMD president Nevers Mumba also attended the burial.