President Hakainde Hichilema is worried about the excessive abuse of social media to spread hate speech, commit crime and corrupt the morals of the country.
President Hichilema said Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and social media platforms are affecting the country’s moral and ethical standing.
Mr. Hichilema observed that some citizens are using social media and other ICT platforms to promote hate speech, engage in cybercrime and bullying, and circulate fake news and obscene materials.
The Head of State said this when he delivered his first state of the nation address to parliament on the application of national values and principles.
President Hichilema said the government will not condone social media abuse in society and will vigorously enforce laws to stop the rot.
The President said social media and ICT must be used for bettering society by enhancing family connections, democracy and promoting e-business
“Let us use these platforms for good and to foster the continued development of our democracy, creativity, entertainment, legitimate news and business, to name a few opportunities it brings,” he said.
President Hichilema has therefore called on families, churches and other stakeholders to join the government and fight against the growing cancer of alcohol and substance abuse.
Mr. Hichilema also urged the liquor industry to put in place measures that will help people, especially youths, to refrain from abusing alcohol which is impacting families and society negatively.
And President Hichilema has observed that child marriages have continued to be a serious challenge in the country.
He said government will harmonise all child related legislation to enhance children’s rights and welfare.
“Child marriages and teenage pregnancies have remained serious issues in our country. We have cases of girls as young as 12-years-old being married off. We have cases of teenage girls, who are still children themselves, having children. These teenage girls are exposed to health complications and even death. This is immoral. This is unacceptable. This should not be tolerated,” said President Hichilema.
The President said both parents and guardians of any teenage girl forced into a child marriage will be arrested along with the husband of the girl.
“Anyone, whether it is a person marrying a young girl, we will enforce the laws and bring to book those who marry teenage girls, and parents and guardians, who marry off our girls,” he said.
President Hichilema said government has since partnered with traditional and civic leaders, the church and civil society organisations to sensitise communities on the dangers of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
He said government is implementing the school re-entry policy and keeping girls in school programme to ensure that the girl child remains in school and is protected from child marriages.
The Head of State further said despite the gains recorded in addressing gender-based violence (GBV), there is still more work to be done especially in rural areas.
GBV cases have reduced from 26,370 in 2020 to 20,540 cases in 2021.
President Hichilema said while government continues to work with all stakeholders in implementing measures aimed at reducing incidents of gender based violence in communities, Zambians should embrace love in their way of life because “where there is love, there is no violence”.
He said there is need for the public service to change its mindset and attitude and be professional to aid government deliver services and the much needed transformation in society.
He also said government is determined to have a dignified and ethical workforce and urged employers to abide by the country’s labour laws.
Mr. Hichilema said there is need for all Zambians to be patriotic, safeguard national assets, put the country first and embrace hard work in order to enhance productivity in the country.
He said government’s socio-economic agenda is working, as can be demonstrated from the success being recorded in promoting consumption of local products.
President Hichilema said the country now has 47 local companies certified to use the proudly Zambian logo, with over 565 local products registered under the Buy Zambia campaign, as compared to 33 companies certified in 2020, covering 500 products.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hichilema said government will continue constructing public infrastructure to ensure that rural areas are opened up to bring public services.
President Hichilema said his administration is committed to fighting corruption and will continue to strengthen the rule of law to ensure prudence in the utilisation of public resources.
“Corruption takes away the much-needed resources for economic growth, jobs, business opportunities, improving education, health and other social services. To this end, we are determined to see to it that all those entrusted with public affairs management must be responsible, accountable and transparent,” said President Hichilema.
And the President revealed that government has established the financial and economic crimes court to expedite disposal of corruption cases and urged people who engaged in corruption to voluntarily come forward and pay back to society what they took away or face prosecution.
“It is therefore wrong for the corrupt to deliberately and intentionally label themselves as victims in the fight against corruption so as to gain sympathy from the public,” said Mr. Hichilema.
He said reforms in the procurement process are paramount to ensure that loopholes are sealed to block pilferage of public resources.
On the issues of climate change, President Hichilema said government has adopted a growth path that takes into account developmental interests amidst climate change considerations for both present and future generations.
He said government will continue to promote the utilisation of climate smart agriculture technologies and practices by farmers and address the rising solid waste in the country.
President Hichilema said government is promoting afforestation, with 5,854.7 hectares of trees planted and forest management plans increased to 2.37 million hectares from 1.64 million hectares in 2020.
The President has meanwhile bemoaned the high unemployment levels among youths in the country saying government will review and realign existing youth empowerment programmes to make them sustainable and add new ones under the enhanced Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
Mr. Hichilema said government will also increase and expand opportunities for youths to access land, mining licences, timber licences, and contracts for goods and services as part of empowerment.
The President has therefore urged Members of Parliament and other stakeholders to support the youths’ resolution from their ongoing national symposium aimed at devising ways of addressing youth challenges in the country.
President Hichilema said this will continue to be backed by government’s free education policy which has seen a lot of pupils enroll in school.
“Our first bold step in this regard was to make primary and secondary education free at public schools. When others mocked us that this was not possible, we insisted that it was and we are doing it. Additionally, we are also keeping more vulnerable children in school by enhancing the school feeding programme. This is not only ensuring that pupils are not absent from class but also improving their learning outcomes,” said President Hichilema.
And the Head of State has urged Zambians to resist people who are bent on dividing citizens on religious, political or ethnic lines.
“It is time to stop any form of division based on ethnicity, political, religious, or any other differences. We are one Zambia, one nation, one people. We must rid ourselves of acts that divide us. We are Zambians first before affiliation to a political, religious, ethnic, or social grouping,” said Mr. Hichilema.
The President said government will uphold the rule of law and accord everyone equal treatment in line with the law and national values and principles.
“There is no honour in cadreism, violence, and discrimination against fellow citizens. To those who want to commit these crimes, you are on your own. The law will visit you regardless of your political affiliation,” he reiterated.
The President reaffirmed that his new dawn administration is committed to creating a level playing field where democracy can thrive and an environment in which political actors freely compete on ideas, convictions and service.
He urged political players and stakeholders to take the recent Kabwata parliamentary by-election as the model for peaceful campaigns and polls.
Meanwhile, the Head of State said government will undertake constitutional reforms to among others, amend the public order act and address lacunas in the laws of the land and give the people of Zambia a constitution that reflects their shared aspirations.
“Government shall undertake all necessary measures to gather and build consensus with all stakeholders on how best we can give ourselves a constitution that reflects our shared and cherished aspirations as a people,” said Mr. Hichilema.
The President told Members of Parliament that he will lobby them so that lacunas are addressed to ensure that more time is spent on delivering development to the people than holding costly, time consuming and disruptive by-elections.
President Hichilema said Zambia will continue to be a Christian nation anchored on love, national unity and mutual respect.
This content was originally published here.