The Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has demanded that State House take its hands off the case US$1.4 billion ZCCM-IH and First Quantum Minerals fraud.
In a statement, JCTR believes that the case needs to be heard, and if need be, the mining giant pay the due sum to ZCCM-IH.
JCTR says this will send a strong warning to other institutions that are in a habit of defrauding the country and engaging themselves in suspicious activities that rob the country of billions.
It says it is grossly unjust for Government through Finance Minister Felix Mutati’s recent public statements to be urging Zambian’s to pay tax while big multinational companies are treated with kids gloves with regards to their tax obligations.
“We are dismayed by the media reports that statehouse has intervened in the court proceeding were ZCCM-IH had sued FQM for defrauding them of US$1.4 billion. If this is true, it basically validates speculations that the government shareholdings in the mining companies is compromised,” it says.
It added, “Our understanding is that governments objective in maintaining shareholding in the mining companies through ZCCM-IH is to safe guard and maximize the potential benefits from mining companies, while maintaining voting rights to influence decision making in Zambia’s mining sector.
However, the frequent changes in the fiscal policy governing the extractive industries and the recent case of state house inference in the FQM fraud case suggests that the government does not put the interest of the Zambians at the helm of all the decisions made thus far. The intervention in the $1.4 billion case basically shows that the autonomy of the ZCCM-IM to deliver this function is absolutely non-existent.”
It said what is further worrying is that there have been little to no facts presented to justify the states intervention on the matter, this is yet another dent in the transparency and accountably of Zambia’s mining sector.
“Intervention in the fraud case will not only entail that Zambia and its people will lose the much needed US1.4 billion for its social and economic investment, but will compromise other institutional efforts to curb illicit financial flows across deferent sectors amidst the turbulent economic and social times the country is going through,” it said.