THE ugly scenes of political violence that characterised the last general elections which saw many Zambians flee their homes after being displaced should never ever be allowed to recur, President Edgar lungu has said.President Lungu said when opening the First Session of the 12th National Assembly yesterday that it was disheartening for the country to witness political violence during the run-up to the 11th August general elections in a country that had known nothing but peace and co-existence since independence.

Addressing the nation when he officially opened the First Session of the 12th National Assembly yesterday, President Lungu said no sane political leader could take pleasure in the suffering of citizens regardless of their political persuasion or affiliation.

The Head of State said Zambians had demonstrated the ability to maintain peace, law and order but the violence that occurred during the run-up to the general elections was disheartening and should never be allowed to happen again.He said for the first time, Zambians were pitted against each other for political expediency and that it was regrettable that lives and property were lost while some citizens suffered injuries.“I condemned the violence in the strongest terms.

I want to reiterate that violence has no place in our country. I reiterate my call  on all of us to embrace the spirit of co-existence and tolerance premised on our all- important motto of One Zambia, One Nation,” President Lungu said.On the media, President Lungu said freedom of the media should not be abused to propagate hate speech and illiberal values that sought to divide communities.President Lungu said journalism was a noble profession that should never be hijacked by ‘‘merchants of ill-will and venomous slander’’ as a result of Government’s good intention of liberalising the media.He explained that to strengthen access to information, promote democracy and good governance, Government was rolling out digital migration to all parts of the country.“As of July 2016, 88 radio stations and 19 television stations were operational.

This situation is impacting positively on our democracy as more people can now have access to information. Freedom of the media, however, must not be abused to propagate hate speech and illiberal values that seek to divide our communities. Journalism is a noble profession that must not be hijacked by merchants of ill-will and venomous slander,” President Lungu said.