By Sipilisiwe Ncube
Two shots Mr Speaker, I only took two, anyway, we will take judicial notice of who took two shots, President Edgar Lungu joked when he gave a State of the Nation Address to parliament, Friday.
As the Head of State discussed alcohol abuse, he could not resist but mock UPND Mazabuka member of parliament Gary Nkombo, who in 2015 proudly told the House that he had taken two shots of Black Label Whiskey in order to stay awake as the National Assembly was passing the amended constitution.
“Mr Speaker, another area of concern is alcohol and substance abuse especially amongst our young people. To curb alcohol and substance abuse, government, among other measures, undertook sensitization of traditional and religious leaders where 235 chiefs and 180 religious leaders from all the 10 provinces were sensitized on the danger of alcohol and substance abuse. Two shots Mr Speaker, I only took two. Anyway, we will take judicial notice of who took two shots,” President Lungu joked, as members of parliament laughed.
“Mr Speaker, all this was done with a view to strengthening the roles of chiefs, traditional leaders and indeed members of the clergy as agents of change. This programme will continue because traditional and religious leaders play a cardinal role in shaping the morals of our society.”
And President Lungu implored media houses to be sensitive about their audience by ensuring that their content was progressive, rather than destructive.
“Mr Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of this House to the media. They media has a powerful role to play in building our nation which goes beyond informing, educating and entertaining. They have a major influence on the moral and ethical conduct of our people. I therefore wish to implore our media houses to take a lead in promoting moral and ethical living among our people. They should be sensitive to their audience and ensure that their content is progressive and not in any way destructive,” he said.
“Mr Speaker, patriotism demands that we always speak well of our country. let us be the first ambassadors of our motherland home and abroad. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Fellow Zambians, let us be proud of our land, our identify [and] our home. We may not all appreciate how it feels to have no sense of belonging, therefore let us stand proud of our motherland.”
The Head of State expressed concern over the abuse of social media.
“Mr Speaker we have an opportunity to use information and technology to propel and advance our country to a higher level of development. It is of great concern however that others have chose to use this versatile tool to commit cyber crimes that include financial malpractices, hate speech, falsehood, and other character assassination. I once again implore all our citizens to be weary of the negative aspects of social media and use this medium responsibly. On our part as government, I am glad to report that we are making progress in promoting responsible use of electronic platforms as well as safeguarding users of these platforms. The process of enacting the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Bill and the Data Protection Bill has reached an advanced stage. This will ensure that offenders are brought to book. I therefore wish to urge this August House Mr Speaker to support the Bills which will be presented in this session of parliament,” President Lungu said.
He noted that the growing trend of examination malpractice had led to the production of substandard human resource who could not respond to the developing needs of the country.
“Mr Speaker, examination malpractices has remained a concern to the nation and are retrogressive. Perpetrators of this crime should understand that there is no shortcut to genuine success. One of the ripple effects is that people get used to malpractice and apply it in other spheres of life as they go on, leading to a growing number o deceitful people in society. In addition, our institutions of learning will produce a substandard human resource that cannot effectively respond to the developing needs of our country. I am therefore pleased to inform this August House that government has put in place measures to bring this vice to an end,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu stressed the need for the nation to reconcile and co-exist without being violent towards one another.
“Mr Speaker, in an effort to foster national unity, identity and sovereignty, government has continued to facilitate the commemoration of national days of historic importance. These include obviously the Independence Day, Africa Freedom Day and National Day or Prayer, Fasting, Repentance, and Reconciliation. We need to reconcile, the nation should reconcile. I therefore urge all citizens of this nation to full participate in these important events. I therefore wish to condemn all forms of political violence in strongest terms. We need to promote co-existence and promote divergent views. We need to strive to resolve our differences through non violent means,” the Head of State said.
And President Lungu directed the Zambia Police Service to deal with all matters of political violence in a professional manner.
“Let us continue to promote our motto “One Zambia, One Nation.” Let me remind all our citizens that no one is above the law. All perpetrators of political violence should be brought to book regardless of their political affiliation. The Zambia Police Service should therefore deal with all matters of political violence in a professional manner. There are no questions about these things Mr Speaker.Mr Speaker, government remains committed to the fight against corruption. Corruption starves vital developmental programmes of the much needed resources. It is an evil that unnecessarily inflates the cost of doing business and the roads investor confidence in the economy. I therefore wish to urge all the relevant agencies mandated to combat corruption to step up the fight. I implore you to tackle the vice in all its forms and as I have stated before, we will not interfere in whatsoever operations. We stand ready to support you in this noble cause. We will capacitate you to effectively execute your mandate. To my fellow citizens, I wish to urge you to detest this vice. I invite you all to the battle front, do not abet corruption. Report all cases of corruption to relevant authorities,” said President Lungu.
“Government is promoting conservation agriculture to enhance climate change resilience among agricultural households. Over the last two farming seasons, a total of 267, 000 farmers have adopted conservation agricultural practices countrywide. Further, government has been undertaking research and development to come up with drought resistance crop variety and contribute to crop diversification. In this regard, a total of 13 new crop varieties were released into the market in the year 2018.”