Patriotic Front Deputy Chairman for Elections and Prominent Lusaka Lawyer Kelvin Bwalya Fube has responded to remarks made by the US Government on the closure of the Post Newspaper by Zambia Revenue Authority over the unpaid taxes.
In a statement made available to the media, Mr Fube cautioned the US Government to remove the speck out of their eyes before accusing the Zambian Government of stifling the media. Mr Fube stated the cases of Edward Snowden and William Asange who the US Government is pursuing for whistling blowing charges.
Below is the Statement on US Government by PF
In the same light we would like to caution sympathisers—especially foreign ones such as the US government—to remove the speck out of their eyes before they accuse the Zambian government of alleged stifling of the media.
Let it be placed firmly on record that the US government is up to now hunting down whistle blower Ed Snowden for violating American laws including earlier before him, Australian activist William Asange whom they want to be extradited for releasing secret documents online.
“We do not appreciate being patronised by people enjoying our hospitality. It is insulting to our intelligence as hosts that are fully aware of international affairs,” Bwalya said.
“Ostensibly it is okay for the Unite States to hunt down Assange and Snowden but not alright for the Zambia government to collect tax from an offender like Membe?…what standards is the US setting here.”
The case at hand is simple, The Post owes money the government needs to provide services and in some cases save lives.
Once they pay back the money, they will be allowed to operate freely, Americans should know this because they drag Hollywood stars to court every day for tax crimes.
One last word of advice to The Post, leave President Lungu out of your tax crime and just pay up. The victims here are poor Zambians and not The Post. The newspaper is nothing but a defaulter. It committed a tax crime that has denied Zambian babies medicine in hospitals and teachers and policemen delayed salaries. We must NEVER lose sight of this.
Yesterday, the US Government said that the timing of the closure of The Post Newspaper by the Zambian Revenue Authority, only weeks before important elections in Zambia were of deep concern.
In a statement issued on the State Department website, the US government said that the closure of The Post is the loss of an independent voice during the campaign period and election cycle.
The United States Government urged the Government of Zambia to work with the Zambian Revenue Authority and The Post to find a way forward that allows The Post to reopen immediately.
It says the free flow of information to the Zambian people is an essential element of a free, fair, credible and peaceful election.
Meanwhile Mr Fube has appealed to all organisations all organisations and individual entities owed money by The Post newspaper to immediately approach the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and seek advice on how they can recover any money the tabloid owes them.
Here is the full statement
KELVIN BWAYA, LAWYER ADVICES THE POST CREDITORS TO SEEK ZAMBIA REVENUE AUTHORITY ADVICE ON HOW TO RECOVER THEIR MONEY.
23rd June 2016, Lusaka–We would like to appeal to all organisations and individual entities owed money by The Post newspaper to immediately approach the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and seek advice on how they can recover any money the tabloid owes them.
This is because as the organisation—ZRA—owed the bulk of the money right now, ZRA is carrying out a through forensic inventory and audit of all Post newspaper property, with a view of determining its worth against the colossal debt.
Once its worth, both at Bwinjimfumu and Chandwe Musonda roads is determined, ZRA will give the tabloid an opportunity to make good of the debt or else the tabloid will run the risk of its property being sold in order to recover Zambian tax payer’s money. That is the legal position.
The government “desperately needs the money in order to deliver social services to the majority of poor Zambians that do not enjoy the same preferential treatment as the tabloid.”
The tabloid owes ordinary poor Zambians via ZRA up to 68 billion Kwacha unrebased ($6.1million), money the government “needs to buy medicine in hospitals to reduce deaths of children and mothers at birth or to provide clean water, with that money.”
The money Fred Membe and his newspaper has refused to pay over the years due to some tax holidays “is the same money the government is supposed to use to pay public workers such as teachers, policemen, soldiers, nurses and Doctors for their noble services on time.”
When Mr Membe decides “not to pay the money or delays in paying, he is effectively taking money out of the pockets of soldiers, teachers, policemen and nurses.”
“It is important to remember that every time civil servants salaries are delayed, it is because Fred Membe and The Post has not paid ZRA 68 billion Kwacha.”
As a party we also think it is, “cheap and grossly misleading for Membe to be ‘Grand-standing’ on the debt issue by trying so desperately, like a spoilt child to link President Lungu to his gross inefficiency and pure greed. President Lungu never told Membe to stop paying his debt. That money is meant for buying drugs in hospitals, just pay it back (Membe) and stop snivelling.”