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IN keeping with the provisions of Article 8 of our Republican Constitution, the Republican President His Excellency Mr Edgar Lungu this morning fulfilled this mandate.

His speech, which was delivered in a calm and confident way, exemplifying a man in charge, was full of evidence [figures and statistics]. It was succinct convincing, and inspirational.

The Republican President’s concern on social media is spot on and timely.

Social media now is breeding decadence and destroying lives.

Nonetheless, social media is a priceless platform for human interaction, but like all human interactions, it requires regulation.

Freedom of any form is NOT without its limits.

Without regulation it is a powerful instrument for the degeneration of mankind.

In its current state, social media has now become a haven of malefactors, a sanctuary of diabolical actors, a disturbing conduit of hate speech, innuendos, fake news, slander and crime. It is presently a clear and present danger to human wellbeing.

Therefore, President Lungu’s statement that laws will soon be enacted for its policing is welcome indeed.

Not many countries in the world have reserved any at all land for women alone.

President Lungu said that Zambia, being unique and concerned, now has.

He informed the world that 40 per cent of all land in Zambia is for females only, and that, in addition, from the 60 per cent women can still access land.

Such preferential attention to women in Zambia is NOT only unprecedented but it is encouraging indeed, women being the vessels upon whom the survival of mankind hinges.

It is pleasing to note that, as a consequence of measures put in place by the government, gender-based violence is on the decline in our country. Figures are there to prove this. He read them.

Fast-tract courts to address GBV, which previously were only in Lusaka and Kabwe, can now be found in Chipata, Mongu and Ndola this intervention having been scaled-up.

It was pleasing to hear him issue a directive that electrical power must not by-pass those living near the generation sites.

He said that we can’t be taking electricity to the Copperbelt from Kariba and yet people in Southern Province near Kariba have no electricity. Indeed, such developmental insensitivities are abhorrent.

His emphasis on reducing the use of and promotion of reusing of plastics is encouraging.

That the ban of plastics in Zambia is only partial and NOT total reflects an intelligent government aware of the importance of and indispensable nature of plastics.

He urged all citizens to desist from cutting down trees. We must aforestate instead as a way of coping with climate change. Africa is the least offensive continent as far as climate change is concerned and yet it suffers about 60 per cent of its consequences.

A case for the appropriate compensation of the continent is indeed valid. Zambia, working with other countries, should seek this compensation from the UN.

As a coping mechanism against climate change, President Lungu reported that more and more farmers are now turning to Conservation Farming. Further, he assured the nation that 13 varieties of crops that are climate-change resilient have now been introduced to the farming community in Zambia. It is my hope that these new varieties are not GMO.

This brings me to mealie meal, Zambia’s staple food.

The Millers Association of Zambia is right to insist that the price of mealie meal should not rise.

Any such rise is only a function of unscrupulousness by the vendors and sheer exploitation of the consumer.

As a matter of fact, the price of mealie meal in Zambia should either remain the same or fall.

This follows the marginal reduction in the cost of doing business as a result of the reduction in the price of fuels, which are vital for production.

In addition, the lifting of the ban on exports of maize meal should enable millers to further cushion their production costs through exports which presently attract large profit margins. As a cascade benefit or subsidy, local prices should either fall or remain the same.

However, should this exploitation of the consumer without just cause continue, it would be prudent for the government to come to the aid of the consumer through appropriate interventions.

It is true that as act of patriotism not a single Zambian should speak ill of Zambia when abroad, aberrant conduct typical of some opportunistic opposition leaders.

We must indeed collectively preserve the unity and peace that we have as losing these would be a harrowing experience indeed. It follows then that it was timely for President Lungu to urge Zambians to learn from the disturbed and gory lives of refugees for deterrents and encouragement.

In a remarkable act of wisdom, President Lungu urged the police to bring to book any perpetrator of political violence whether PF or not.

This is the impartial inspired leadership all Zambians expect from him. We wait to see if he will walk this talk.

Corruption must be fought by all, he urged, and to further capacitate public service workers for professional conduct, he reported that officers belonging to the Defence Forces, the Zambia Police and the Immigration Department had all been orientated in moral and ethical behaviour. This must be the case for all citizens.

Everyone must be moral and ethical in their conduct, for fighting corruption is not only the responsibility of public service workers but all citizens as well.

He reiterated that political dialogue amongst political parties is vital for mutually beneficial coexistence in our country, and that this must eventually become a way of life for us.

The ZCID should soon convene a dialogue meeting at which the planned constitutional refinement can be discussed by political parties.

These meetings should become quarterly or be held twice yearly, as a matter of practice.

Let the Church remain in church.

Befitting, President Lungu urged all citizens to understand and embrace the meaning of national symbols such as the national anthem and flag.

He said the meaning of these symbols should always be in our minds and hearts. We must use them to inspire our collective conduct.

True we must continue to teach these in pre-school as well as primary school. Further, as a show of patriotism and nationalism, citizens should allowed to fly the national flag at their homes.

And as if to illustrate that wisdom is not national/sectarian but universal, it was pleasing to hear him quote a foreigner, John Maynard Keynes, a renowned economist, that ‘it is what a people believe in that moves them to action.’

He therefore called on all Zambians to embrace the national values and principles as their collective belief, a worthy and timely observation.

All in all, the Republican President’s speech was convincing as it comprised irrefutable evidence of what his government had done over the past year.

It showed that developing a nation is not an overnight event nor a one-year or one-term event. It showed that developing a nation is a difficult relay, a lengthy gradual process that requires the right human capital, time, resources, continuity, patience, tolerance, unity, peace, diligence and loyalty.

Zambia then must invest in all these, and Zambians must pull together to ensure that the requisite national vision is eventually realised.

The ball is entirely in our court.

Lord help us.

Dr Canisius BANDA 

Development Activist

Former UPND Vice President for Politics

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