President Lungu’s address

EMELDA Musonda.

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu today addresses the National Assembly on the application of our national values and principles as enshrined in the republican Constitution under articles 8, 9 and 86, sub-article (1).
This is the second address the head of State will be making on the subject matter after the first one held on March 7, 2017.
This address is different from others in that it specifically focuses on values and principles which provide a foundation on which our national identity and practices are anchored.
This is because Zambia, like many other countries, is cognisant of the fact that moral, spiritual, ethical and cultural values are paramount to fulfilling her development agenda.
The address, therefore, serves as a platform to reflect and debate on the state of the nation with respect to the application of our national values and principles.
Exactly a year from the time President Lungu made his first address, the question we should ask ourselves today is: How have we fared in terms of adherence to national values and principles as a country?
At national level, how committed have we been in enforcing and safeguarding these principles? And at individual level, have we played our role in upholding these values as enshrined in the Constitution.
In his address last year, President Lungu highlighted some of the major values by which the country should abide in accordance with the supreme law of the land.
These include, but not limited to, morality and ethics; patriotism and national unity; democracy and constitutionalism; human dignity, equity, social justice, equality and non-discrimination; good governance and integrity; and sustainable development.
It is, therefore, expected that in his address, the President will give an overview of how we have fared as a country in upholding these values and principles.
It is also expected that the head of State will zero in on some of the measures Government has put in place in a bid to enforce and entrench these values in the country.
In his address last year, President Lungu lamented the symptoms of moral decay as reflected in the increasing cases of examination malpractices, absenteeism at places of work, child defilement and gender-based violence (GBV), to mention but a few.
While issues of examination malpractices seem to have taken a low profile last year, GBV and child defilement still seem to be on the upswing. For instance, cases of GBV in the third quarter of 2017 increased to 5,096 from 4,235 in the same quarter of 2016.
It is also interesting that this address comes just before the dust on heated moral debate over South African dancer Rebecca Libram, aka Zodwa Wabantu, settles down.
There was a heated debate on whether Government was acting within its legal mandate to ban the South African socialite, who is famous for exposing her nudity.
While some sections of society agreed with the minister, others questioned the legality of the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili’s decision to deny the dancer a permit to perform.
Last year, the minister was also in the limelight after denying Zimbabwean Prophet Uebert Angel entry into the country on account of overcharging for his meeting.
Still last year, two Nigerian pastors were deported on account of misconduct.
While it is clear that Zambia is a Christian nation guided by biblical values, the President will do well to give guidance to the Ministry of Religious Affairs to come up with comprehensive written guidelines on what is not acceptable. This is especially to guide those individuals who may be coming from societies where things that are considered offensive in Zambia are seen as a norm. This will also help to guide deviant citizens.
In his address last year, President Lungu directed the Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska, to enforce the code of ethics among public service workers.
It is expected that today’s address will give an insight on whether we are winning in the area of imparting morals and ethics in our public service workers.
President Lungu also raised concern on the abuse of alcohol, especially among young people. He directed relevant ministries to coordinate their actions and ensure effective management of the production and sale of alcohol.
It is good to note that legislation to restrict production and sale of alcohol is in the process of being formulated.
Concerned about unpatriotic tendencies among Zambians in land management where parcels of land were being sold to foreigners for a song, President Lungu directed Minister of Lands Jean Kapata to take to Cabinet a revised Lands Act and Land Policy, to ensure that our land is protected for our future generations.
Government is currently in consultation with all stakeholders on the revised Lands Act. Government is also proposing a reduction in the lease period for land to foreigners from 99 years to 25 years.
In his first address, Mr Lungu acknowledged the important role of parents, teachers and religious leaders in imparting morals in younger generations.
It is anticipated that the head of State will today share how Government intends to strengthen moral impartation through schools. For instance, Government should consider reintroducing prayer and devotions before starting school activities.
In view of the role media plays in shaping society’s moral fibre, the head of State should dwell on how it intends to ensure that it does not contribute to moral decay through content aired or published.
During the 2016 general elections, the country experienced division of the worst kind anchored on tribal lines.
It is, therefore, expected that in his address the President will highlight Government’s continued strategy to unite the country as well as evaluate the impact of measures implemented so far.
Today’s address should give us a clear picture on how we are faring, areas where we are doing fine and where improvement is required.
It should also revive the spirit of commitment to enforcing and upholding our spiritual, moral and cultural values among all Zambians.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.

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