White tobacco commercial farmers conspire with TAZ to evade paying statutory levies To Govt.

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Small Scale Tobacco growers have accused tobacco companies of evading tax by not remitting the tobacco levy collected from farmers.
The farmers who spoke through Saidi Phiri, a farmer from Central Province, said for over three years the tobacco companies and some white commercial farmers have connived with Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) to refuse paying statutory levies owed to government to a tune of K15 million contrary to the laws of Zambia.
“The white farmers collected the levy from the growers on behalf of government and have refused to remit these millions of kwacha to government a move which has since angered the small farmers.
“We believe there is a cartel of civil servants, politicians, tobacco dealers who have conspired to deny government the revenue owed to it.
“We believe that some civil servants in other government departments who are beneficiaries are undermining the Ministry of Agriculture by aiding this illegality,” he said.
And the farmers have called on government to investigate the sale and transfer of ownership of the Tobacco Processing Plant and other assets which were owned by the Tobacco Board of Zambia to private individuals and an Association that represents white commercial farmers.
And the farmers have described Tobacco Association (TAZ) as an irrelevant association that is working against the very farmers it was formed to represent.
Meanwhile the farmers have accused TAZ and some Tobacco companies of trying to incite the small scale farmers to raise against government and to have the Statutory Instruments which were recently introduced repealed.
Phiri, a grower from Central Province who spoke on behalf of the small scale farmers, said government should investigate how the processing plant which was entrusted in the hands of TAZ was transferred to private hands without the knowledge of the owners who are the small scale farmers.
“We find it interesting that at that particular time, the General Manager for TAZ by the name of Van Der Vinne claimed to have bought the factory with TAZ claiming to own shares within the factory which property was entrusted to them by the Tobacco farmers countrywide.
“To date all the Zambian indigenous Tobacco Farmers have been pushed out of the factory ownership by the Association that should have protected their interest at the time.
“Today, TAZ is constituted of 90% white commercial farmers membership. On this matter we the tobacco farmers implore Government to investigate this sale and transfer of ownership from the farmers to a private individual that was at the time an employee of an association and TAZ as an association of white commercial farmers. These two entities, Tombwe Processing Limited and Tobacco Association of Zambia share the same logo. As indigenous tobacco farmers we feel cheated with this purported transaction,” he said.
Phiri said TAZ is a compromised association  which has been misrepresenting Small Scale Tobacco growers in the country.
He explained that TAZ was originally formed to represent the interest of small scale farmers in the tobacco industry but that it has become a tool for oppressing Small Scale farmers as it has been taken over by commercial farmers.
The farmers accused TAZ of working with a cartel of white commercial farmers in pushing out the voice of the over 36,000 indigenous farmers in a bid to have the industry dominated by whites by dissolving all associations of small scale farmers countrywide.
“…The Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) working with a cartel in the industry spearheaded by the white commercial farmers, in a bid to dominate the industry and reduce the voice of the majority indigenous small scale farmers began a campaign to dissolve the associations that were being managed by the Association of Small Scale Farmers countrywide. The small scale farmers membership at the time was more than 36,000 whilst the Commercial Tobacco Farmers were only 81.
“….We wish to bring to the attention of the government that TAZ is no longer relevant to the majority tobacco farmers in the country, they have misrepresented the farmers and the industry and the Government in chaotic circumstances.
“Evidence to show that TAZ is no longer relevant is that they have been in the forefront and working with the merchants to oppose the very instrument that is aimed at bringing sanity in the industry. The instrument that is in the best interest of the tobacco farmers. TAZ is seriously in opposition of the Statutory Instruments No 84 and 85 which the farmers together with the chiefs in all tobacco growing regions countrywide have welcomed,”
Phiri urged TAZ to stop fighting the wishes of the farmers by clinging on to the sales floor which the Tobacco Board of Zambia TBZ told them to vacate but have not left the place three weeks after the notice elapsed adding that Farmers were tired of seeing the industry being held at ransom by what he termed as a bunch greedy individuals.
The farmers further asked government to help them become independent by providing farmer input support program to the growers for three years.
They said with support from government, the farmers would only need sponsorship for three years unlike the current situation were sponsors have kept them in perpetual bondage with their stiff conditions.
The farmers also called on Republican President Edgar Lungu to help them secure a profitable market in China which they said is the largest consumer of tobacco.
And Chilufya Chishala a tobacco grower from Eastern province said TAZ and JTI has been going round the country to try and mislead poor farmers into signing a petition to revoke SI 84 and 85 which has been enacted to protect not only the farmers but government as well in ensuring that the 2% levy remitted by farmers is collected without delay.
He said TAZ has sued TBZ and Government accusing them of implementing the SIs without consultation when documentation is available to prove that all the stakeholders were consulted before taking the SIs.
He urged government through the ministry of justice to ensure that the farmers are protected and ensure that TAZ and tobacco buyers pays what is due to government without further delays.
He wondered were the companies were getting the authority to sue government over the 2% levy which is paid by farmers and expected to be remitted to government at the point of sale.
He said the affidavit in the high court reads “the people versus the ministry of agriculture and TBZ” something his described as an abuse of the name of the Republican President as the companies were trying to portray a picture that government was suing itself.
He said the companies should respect the laws of the country or leave the country if they are not willing do so adding that their behavior cannot be condoned in the other countries where they operate from.
“In an effort to cheat the farmers, we have had encounters where our fellow farmers are being misled that the SIs will disorient the industry. This is not true! As farmers we are able to read and understand! We also know what is happening in other countries that are economically better than the Zambian Tobacco industry due to tight and fair regulations. For example, it is a known fact that no merchant or buying company runs a sales floor in Malawi. In Malawi the laws have been made even tighter by stopping buyers from sponsoring the farmers,” he said.

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2 Responses to White tobacco commercial farmers conspire with TAZ to evade paying statutory levies To Govt.

  1. This journalist for his inferior complex should be cited for racism like Kambwili. Are we going to be labelling everyone by race now? White farmer, Black farmer, Asian farmer? I believe the difference should be about the scale of production. Commercial farmer, small scale farmer etc would be appropriate. Race should not be used unless you are a racist or feel inferior about yourself.

    zamule
    February 22, 2019 at 4:56 pm
    Reply

  2. Well how do you expect him to describe the subject if there is no better term for him, he wanted to describe something but he didn’t have the wright words.
    At least we know what he meant : because those are the terms used in South Africa where race has taken over everything and the United States of America.
    These two nations are to blame for this evil now consuming the whole world
    The story is about how commercial farmers are stealing from the government or the public , some people don’t know how evil it is to evade tax.

    nshilimubemba
    February 22, 2019 at 10:12 pm
    Reply

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