Southern Province Minister Edify Hamukale has called on all Zambians to behave responsibly and not to demean or propagate information that touches on the persona of President Edgar Lungu.
Dr. Hamukale said cyberbullying of the Head of State was tantamount to harassing the whole Zambian Republic as President Lungu was the Chief Executive for the country.
The Provincial Minister stressed that spreading false information about the Head of State was punishable by law, and urged all well-meaning Zambians to desist from the detrimental vice.
“As Minister of this land I will not allow anyone propagating false information about the President; Ministers, chiefs and other innocent individuals targeted for unjustified reasons. We would like to see a protected citizenry where all people live in peace and happily,” he said.
Dr Hamukale said this in Livingstone yesterday, at the finale of the Awareness Walk against Cyberbullying and Fake news, led by Zambia Air Force (ZAF), Captain Thokozile Muwamba.
He further condemned online gender-based violence targeted against female ministers.
Dr Hamukale said it was unacceptable to use unpalatable language against the ministers online, adding that they needed to be given time and space to serve the public diligently.
And Zambia Information and Communications Authority (ZICTA), Director-General Patrick Mutimushi noted that the number of complaints received of people who had been cyber bullied had continued to rise, particularly in the case of women and girls.
Mr. Mutimushi was however, happy that ZICTA in collaboration with Cyber Hygiene Zambia were at the heart of the movement aimed at changing the mind sets of those yet to appreciate that access to digital platforms comes with responsibility.
He was confident that the output of the nationwide publicity to discourage cyber bullying and elaborate its consequences would result in attracting a caliber of young people who would be online ambassadors to help promote responsible use of the internet.
“The expected output of this nationwide publicity discouraging cyberbullying will help enhance the ZICTA ‘Be your sisters’ and brother’s online keeper’ initiative aimed at creating youthful online ambassadors who will promote productive use of the internet,” he said.
And speaking in an interview upon arrival in Livingstone, Captain Thokozile Muwamba said the walk had not been easy but she managed with the support of her team members and Cyber Hygience Zambia.
Captain Muwamba was confident the message on cyber bullying was reaching the masses and starting up conversations on the vice among various stakeholders in the country.
She noted that her walk from Lusaka had raised both positive and negative comments, adding that this was a good starting point for positive behavioural change.
“We have reached a lot of people during our walk and that is a good thing. Now we have to get people to use the internet responsibly and not demean each other online,” she said.
And Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Director General Josephine Mapoma said online broadcasters should behave according to the ethics of broadcasting.
Ms Mapoma urged online broadcasting institutions to register with IBA upon attaining a certain threshold of viewers, for their content to be regulated.
“In regulating content, we are not saying we are regulating you on what to do, you will have your own editorial policy,” she said.
Captain Muwamba is the first Zambian female fighter pilot and she started her walk from Lusaka on February, 20 this year to raise awareness on cyber bullying and fake news.