INFORMATION and Media Minister Chushi Kasanda has appealed to citizens to exercise restraint as they exercise their “newly found” freedom of expression to avoid injuring others or causing acrimony in the country.

At a media briefing, Thursday, Kasanda said the manner in which some people were exercising their freedom of expression had become a source of discontentment to some fellow citizens.

“Government wishes to appeal to all citizens to exercise restraint as they exercise their newly found freedom of expression in order to avoid causing acrimony in the country. The United Party for National Development (UPND) administration is fully aware that Zambian citizens, throughout the history of the country, have been subjected to penal sanctions for merely expressing themselves, especially against the government leadership. The UPND administration has come to change the narrative,” Kasanda said.

“Government, however, wishes to guide that citizen exercising their freedom of expression have a responsibility of avoiding injuring other people. Government notes, with deep concern, that the manner in which some people are exercising their freedom of expression has become a source of discontentment to some fellow citizens.”

Kasanda said government was disturbed by comments made by former Minister of Water Development Raphael Nakacinda on President Hakainde Hichilema’s scheduled trip to the United States of America.

“Government is particularly disturbed to learn that comments made by the former Minister of Water Development, Mr Raphael Nakacinda, on the scheduled official trip to the United States of America by Mr Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia, has injured some people due to their immature, malicious and disrespectful nature. While we acknowledge, and reaffirm, that Mr Nakacinda has a right to exercise his freedom of expression, we find the comments he made about the Republican President Mr Hakainde Hichilema to be shrouded in bitterness and inappropriate for a former Cabinet Minister, who should be a role model to the young people,” she said.

“Government notes that Mr Nakacinda failed to appreciate that majority of the Zambian citizens are solidly behind President Hakainde Hichilema, a definite majoritarian President, who is still being celebrated countrywide. Mr Nakacinda should have exercised personal judgement and realised that it is too early for the majority Zambians to entertain criticism that boarders on disrespecting the people’s President, whose victory is still being celebrated. To start with, President Hichilema is going to attend the United Nations General Assembly to represent 18 million Zambians and to advance Zambia’s position on international issues affecting mankind and the world.”

Kasanda said the meeting between President Hichilema and United States of America President Joe Biden was a recognition of Zambia’s enhanced democracy.

“Secondly, President Hichilema is being accorded a rare honour to hold a bilateral meeting with the President of the United States of America, undoubtedly the leader of the free world. This is in recognition of Zambia’s now enhanced democracy. The President will also be holding bilateral meetings with other world leaders to enhance international cooperation, including economic promotion, for the benefit of all Zambians,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said UPND would not promote gay rights.

“Government wishes to further clarify that, while the UPND manifesto is very clear on the respect of human rights, it does not promote gay rights. The UPND government recognizes and upholds Zambia as a Christian Nation, both in principle and in practice. Government calls upon all citizens, who are rejoicing the new dawn, to sympathise, forgive and ignore the bitterness being exhibited by those who are grieving over the loss of the 12 August General Elections. We are One Zambia, One Nation,” said Kasanda.