We are not going to blink until ZICTA and police take charge and clamp down on social media abuse, says Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo.

And Kampyongo has warned that all police officers involved in spreading falsehoods will be disciplined.

Meanwhile, newly-sworn in Zambia Correctional Facilities Commissioner General Dr Chisela Chileshe has promised to improve inmates’ living conditions by upgrading their diets and infrastructure.

Speaking to journalists at State House yesterday, Kampyongo warned that government would soon clamp down on social media abuse because ZICTA and police had the required technology to do so.

“I also want to share with you, our colleagues from the media, the concern that we have with regards to misuse of social media platforms and the people that have taken to social media for peddling falsehoods and I think we are going to start taking drastic measures and actions that will ensure that the level of misuse of social media is brought down,” Kampyongo said.

“People should not get away with these mischievous activities. It is time he started holding people accountable, we have systems in place that can identify someone who concocts a falsehood and posts it and the laws are there for such kind of perpetrators. So what we are saying is that it is time to send a clear message by ensuring that these perpetrators are brought to book and others probably can learn from that.”

And Kampyongo warned that all police officers involved in spreading falsehoods would be disciplined.

“What is worse, for the Ministry of Home Affairs, is to see people going as far as pronouncing changes in the police service. That has got potential to undermine a law enforcement institution such as ours and my appeal to the officers is to avoid taking some of the falsehoods that are being peddled on social media and for them participating in some of the falsehoods because we shall start disciplining officers as well. So my appeal is for the police to step up, working with ZICTA, to ensure that some of these activities are curtailed and we are not going to blink until we see that these two institutions take charge of the situation,” said Kampyongo.

Meanwhile, Dr Chileshe promised to improve inmates’ living conditions by upgrading their diets and infrastructure.

“My predecessor Percy Chato laid a foundation for the works that we have started and also the President emphasized that inmates are human beings and in our mission statement, it clearly states that we must provide humane facilities and conditions for the inmates that come in our facilities. We can only do so if we improve on the infrastructure, which within the government system we are able to improve. The numbers are big, there are over 21,600 inmates but that is a number that can, with a hardworking team, make sure that they live in a good environment. And also invest in agriculture and industry. As a starting point, the command has already strategise that we separate the farms and the industries so that the two will be competing entities. And we can provide desks and any kind of furniture to the whole country because we have cheap labour. All we need is to improve on the equipment. On the farms, we have land and I think government has given us a boost. As I am talking to you now, the World Bank has given us US$4.6 million and we have four centres where we are developing irrigation. You know the rains are scarce now and so we need to improve on our agriculture and more so, we will not mainly depend on the production of maize but we want to go into cash crops as well as livestock so that we are able to grow fish and sell and give the inmates so that they are able to feed. I don’t believe that an inmate can fail to eat cabbage, let alone tomatoes or eggs, we are able to do what we can. At the end of it all, we want to see a service that can contribute to the Treasury,” said Dr Chileshe.

“Diet has been a challenge and we know that we have so many inmates with adult malnutrition but like I said, we need to improve on the feeding and we can only do so when we work as a team because it is not an individual effort and we will strive to ensure that we are able to improve the conditions of those, not only HIV, but any kind of infection. They also need entertainment facilities and so on. But we have environments where an inmate cannot even stretch and so it is a mammoth task that I have been given but I have a team that is formidable and we are going to do the best within the limits that we have.”