And Dr Chishimba says his party has evidence that Astro Mobile has over the years engaged in tax evasion and fraud involving over US$30 million.
“We, in the United Progressive People (UPP), have credible and indisputable evidence on the abuses of Zambian workers , frauds and tax evasions at Astro Mobile. Our records show that the company keeps stocks worth more than US$35 million dollars at a time and most of the imported mobile phones and electronics are brought into the country using forged tax invoices in order to evade the taxes,” Dr Chishimba said in a statement.
“Astro Mobile has also been supplying phones and devices on credit to service men and women in the army and police, among others. The service is also extended to other public service and private sector workers. We note that while salaries continue to be subjected to deductions, the company delays to supply phones and devices to many workers. In some instances, deductions continue even after the items have been fully paid for and this is total abuse of service personnel and public service workers.”
The controversial opposition leader has also alleged that key senior management positions in the company are occupied by Zimbabweans who do not have proper credentials.
“Like the case for Pick n Pay, Zambians who are more qualified get slave wages. A person with ACCA gets K4, 500 gross as a salary while an ill qualified Zimbabwean without ACCA gets over K10, 000. Others get below the living wage.”
And Dr Chishimba has linked some PF officials to the alleged illegal activities taking place at the mobile phone company.
“UPP has details of a Zambian employee at Astro Mobile who is using his PF membership and influence to get work permits for foreigners as well as facilitate tax evasions corruptly. He has built many mansions in Lusaka from proceeds of corruption. In order to cover up his own corruption, he has been using his influence to get Zambian workers arrested for shortages which are orchestrated by him. The syndicate is so advanced that it will require an immediate forensic audit,” Dr Chishimba stated.
He has since called on the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) and Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to take immediate action, saying his party the UPP stands ready to provide full details to investigators.
Meanwhile, Dr Chishimba has reiterated his demand for action in terms of countrywide labour law compliance audits by the Ministry of Labour.
He says the future UPP-led Government will not tolerate the abuse of Zambian workers as they are the ones who drive the national productivity machinery of the nation, further promising that the minimum wage will be indexed to the Basic Needs Basket.