All those who have issues with our fight against corruption should come forth and give us ways and means of how we can improve this fight, says President Edgar Lungu.

And President Lungu says alcohol and social media abuse are a source of concern.

Meanwhile, President Lungu mocked opposition UPND MPs for donning their party colour, red, saying they had decided to have a belated Valentines’ Day.

Delivering an update on the progress made in the application of national values and principles, President Lungu said shouting from the rooftops about corruption would not change anything.

“One of the major challenges to good governance and integrity is the issue of corruption. Corruption is a cancer which requires concerted and continuous effort to eliminate it. We all have a moral duty and obligation to fight corruption in order to achieve accelerated and all-inclusive development. In this respect Mr Speaker, I implore members of parliament and all those who have issues with our fight against corruption to come forth and give us ways and means of how we can improve this fight,” President Lungu said.

“Government has continued to build necessary capacities in our governance institutions and other stakeholders for improved outcomes in the fight against corruption. For instance, the establishment of integrity committees in ministries, provinces and other spending agencies in line with provisions of the new anti-corruption act which is ongoing. So far, a total of 61 committees have been created and are operational, work is in progress to improve the functioning of these committees. Let me repeat what I said Mr Speaker, we are in this together, gentlemen and ladies, we have to fight it but if we keep shouting on rooftops without coming up with ways and means of how to fight it, it will become mere rhetoric…let me point out that corruption does not only happen in government but in the private sector and out there where you live.”

He asked members of parliament to support the Financial Management Bill.

“Equally under implementation is the sensitization of various stakeholders in public and private institutions as well as the community aimed at promoting integrity and ethical conduct. Prudent management of public resources is at the core of good governance. It guarantees successful implementation of government policies and programmes as well as the realization of the much-needed development. In this regard, the public financial management bill has been submitted to this August House for consideration. Once enacted, the legislation will, among other things, strengthen the financial regulatory framework and stiffen penalties for perpetrators of financial mismanagement. I call upon all members of this August House to support the passing of this important and progressive bill,” he said.

And President Lungu said alcohol and social media abuse were a source of concern.

“We have observed, with great concern, that our morals have deteriorated over time. This is evidenced by the high prevalence of teen pregnancies and early marriages. We have also witnessed the growing trend in the misapplication of public funds, and abuse of social media. Of equal concern is alcohol and substance abuse as well as poor work culture, among others. We need to act, we need to act now, we need to act together. If we do not act to redress this trend, we risk losing our moral values and ethics completely. I am pleased to inform this August House that we have started laying the ground for promoting good morals and ethics among our citizens,” he said.

President Lungu said government had developed two bills to guide the enforcement of ethics and morals among public and state officers.

“Government has developed the Public Officers Ethics Bill and State Officers Bill. These bills, once enacted, will strengthen the legal framework for guiding the scope, implementation and enforcement of morals and ethics among public and state officers. This will also ensure that public and State officers are held accountable and are above board in the conduct of the affairs of the state. To further enhance good morals and ethics, government has developed a single vision for the public service which is ‘a smart and value-centred public service’. The vision will serve to motivate and galvanise public service officers in their observance of our national values and principles in service delivery,” he said.

“Alcohol and substance abuse is an area of great concern affecting the moral standards of our people. We are aware that when the youth are not involved in any productive activity, they tend to resort to alcohol abuse and other vices. Government is, therefore, making progress in strengthening the enforcement of the relevant laws and regulations to curb this vice. Obviously two shots at the members’ club is different from the ones I am talking about.”

Meanwhile, President Lungu mocked opposition UPND MPs for donning their party colour, red, saying they had decided to have a belated Valentines’ Day.

“Mr Speaker, allow me to begin by wishing my friends on the left a happy belated Valentines. All the same, I am delighted to be here Mr Speaker and I also had a red tie but I realised it wasn’t Valentines’ so I gave up,” he said, sending the House into pangs of laughter.

On child marriages, President Lungu said government was implementing a five-year national strategy on ending child marriage targeting to achieve a 40 per cent reduction by 2021.

He expressed commitment towards dialogue among political players.

“Dialogue among political players is one of the key elements in promoting democracy. Dialogue fosters co-existence, promotes accommodation of divergent views and helps to resolve differences through non-violent means. It is the conviction of government that there cannot be unity without dialogue. In this regard, government remains committed to dialogue to enhance intra- and interparty democracy in our country,” said President Lungu.