Zambian tax-payer supported media are a disgrace To democracy

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By Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, Ph.D.

Zambia’s tax-payer supported media, namely the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia, are a disgrace to Zambia’s democracy. These are the media that are the embodiment of the legacy of the dictatorial one-party system. The current government is closest to the one party system that we have had since 1991.

One example will suffice to validate my the thesis that this media is a  disgrace to democracy. And this is just a tip of the giant iceberg. When the Post newspaper obtained an injunction against Zambia Revenue Authority on Monday June 27th, 2016, all these instruments of mass deception cried in unison as if directed by central casting that the Tax Appeals Tribunal had no jurisdiction to stay a Supreme Court of Zambia Order. And further that there is no such Tribunal as such because it is not regularized under the amended constitution.

This media deliberately failed to report that, indeed decided to deliberately deceive the Zambian people who pay their salaries whose PAYE and VAT they have failed to pay to ZRA, that the said stay Order had nothing to do with the previous Supreme Court Order, that this new stay order was to address a new tax grab by ZRA. They deliberately decided to hoodwink the Zambian people that under the rule of law calculus, which Zambia is supposed to be, but for the de facto one-party state masquerading as a democracy, any person or entity that files an objection to a tax bill, has the right to challenge that bill through the Tax Tribunal. You don’t engage in demonstrations or revolution, you go to legal tribunals set up for that purpose. It is like a criminal case, if you believe you are not guilty, you challenge the charge and go to trial. You don’t plead guilty unless you are guilty, under normal circumstances.

The court can not sentence you to death before trial and before you are pronounced guilty. ZRA authority pronounced The Post guilty without a trial and in violation of the tax laws and constitution of this country that allow for an objection if one is not satisfied with the tax bill.

Further these media deliberately and therefore fraudulently fail to inform the Zambian people that they too owe ZRA and therefore the Zambian people, millions of kwacha in arrears. This is money that these institutions have already collected through PAYE and VAT. Where does this money go to? They fail to report that the tax law does not distinguish between parastatals or government agencies on the one hand, and private institutions in the other hand. In the eyes of the law, no one including the President is above the law. It is no defence whatsoever that one is a parastatal or government agency and therefore cannot be compelled to pay the already secured tax revenue from the tax-payer.

The most serious crime of these tax-payer supported media is the  deliberate failure and total silence in order to deceive the Zambian people, to report that on Friday July 1, 2016, the Tax Appeals Tribunal lambasted ZRA for ignoring an official Order from the Tribunal set out as Instrument No. 1 of 2015, that the Tribunal contrary to the wailings of these Tax-payer supported media, has jurisdiction to issue said Order which Order under a rule of law regime should have been obeyed forthwith, meaning immediately. Had The Post brought an application for contempt of court, there would have been severe consequences for ZRA.

Jacob Zuma leading a strong and mighty ANC government obeys court orders. The tax-payer funded South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) obeys court orders, indeed it tries to fairly report the doings of the opposition by disseminating balanced news. Why can’t this government emulate the Zuma regime by for once obeying lawful court Orders? The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a tax-payer funded national broadcaster has refused to short-change democracy by refusing to report unbalanced and Hitlerite-like coverage of the news in relation to opposition parties. The British Broadcasting Corporation( BBC),  tax-payer funded news outlet covers all news all the time including that of the opposition  in a balanced fashion. Why can’t the Zambia tax-payer funded media emulate these stellar examples of how media is supposed to operate under a democracy?

The SABC was like ZNBC, Daily Mail and Times of Zambia while under apartheid. Once apartheid was abolished, the SABC too changed and paradigm-shifted to conform to the imperatives of democracy. The Zambian tax-payer funded media named above are still stuck like an ostrich whose head is in the sand under the rubric of the one-party state. Meanwhile Zambia is supposed to have moved on in the last quarter century. Or has it? There will always be forces who will try to drag the nation stagnant. But the wheels of history and the future always win. Zambia was once free. And Zambia shall be free.

Dr. Munyonzwe Hamalengwa teaches law at Zambian Open University.

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6 Responses to Zambian tax-payer supported media are a disgrace To democracy

  1. sense!

    KAMBWILI MAPESA CHANDA
    July 6, 2016 at 12:02 pm
    Reply

  2. Same for the Zambian security services! They are stuck in the past where opposition parties were seen as subversive and undesirable! The intelligence services, Zambia Police, Air Force, Immigration, etc appear to be fucked up! They are simply lost in the sea of illegality by their anti-democracy activities. Instead of allowing Zambians debate, gather, demonstrate, and decide freely to vote for a party or parties of their choice, they are being denied these opportunities. The country has been captured by forces of evil dictatorship and lawlessness by the way the laws are being ignored! The ECZ has adopted a biased stand by allowing the corruption of the voters’ register, registration of foreigners who have no right on earth to vote in Zambia unless they are citizens, and the printing of ballot papers abroad as if Zambians cannot print such materials if given guidelines at the beginning of the the year! This action by the ECZ clearly seals the fate of Zambia into unknown, troubled and violent future to come if these forces are allowed to get away with impunity after elections should the opposition win. Zambians will need to redo the constitution because the current document appears to have worsened the quality of our political life. Our economic, social, educational future have been torn up by the actions of the PF and its immature, illogical, selfish, criminal leadership at all levels!

    Mwanga
    July 6, 2016 at 2:09 pm
    Reply

  3. What a sensible article!

    Blackbird
    July 6, 2016 at 2:37 pm
    Reply

  4. This may very well be the last semblance of a free election unless democratic forces gather and defend the rule of law. How did we descend from the highest mountain of being the most envied democratic African country, to the brink of a laughing stock? In 18 months! After fighting so hard to dethrone a brutal one party dictatorship. It has now reconstituted itself in the present government. The MMD was voted out in 2011, now they constitute the government. What a mockery. The bottom line is, every ounce of all the forces of democracy and rule of law must be marshalled to ensure that the Zambian democratic lights continue to shine and do not die. Zambia shall be free.

    Munyonzwe Hamalengwa
    July 6, 2016 at 2:43 pm
    Reply

  5. Zambia’s tax-payer supported media, namely the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia should be restructured so that they can promote Zambia’s democracy.
    Democracy means ‘rule by the people’ and for this to function properly, it requires an informed public. Media provides this information to the public and therefore, the very definition of media suggests it is a democratic device; informs and empowers all members of society, therefore enhancing democracy. However, there are several arguments towards its undermining of democracy, are we really making our own decisions? Or are other people deciding what we see, read and hear?

    Dr Imasiku Liamunga
    July 7, 2016 at 6:01 am
    Reply

  6. Rumour has it that Lungu got his millions of USD from Saudi Arabia, and sadly, our investigative journalists have been subjected to all sorts of harassment by people in power for only doing their work, hence their current dismal performance!
    It is also clear that the top ZAF leadership is part of the conspiracy to derail our democracy as shown by their partisan actions. It is sad that these people are no better technically than the ZAF bosses we had before. Why, they are even worse technically because they have wondered into the civilian terrain of politics instead of only looking out for the well-being of all Zambians from external harm and damage. The ZAF bosses have jumped the trip wire by not telling the immigration dept not to give NRC’s to foreigners and allowing them to register to vote! These should have been their immediate concern as these foreigners are not coming into Zambia with the best interest for Zambians. Only Zambians can do things in their best interest, not foreigners! And coming into Zambia to come and vote for a clearly visionless party is not a blessing for Zambia, but a nail into a box with our country weighed down inside it by tons of evil! The question we all must be asking ourselves is, “What made ZAF, Immigration, ECZ, Zambia Police, OP leadership, and Key Civil Servants see it correct to subvert our democracy?” What did the PF do for Zambia for these entities to turn around and see it correct to trash our democracy? What secret agreements are in place which the PF and its agents are so married to that they have to trash our law and order environment? What right do they have to think that all Zambians can be tricked into accepting slavery by secret deals made by individuals whose agenda appears to be for self-aggrandizement? Remember that they confessed that they have no vision! How can citizens trust leaders whose constitution is anti-democracy, anti-free associations, anti-open debate of issues on radio or in print? The conduct of the Constitutional Court is a disgrace. If that court ruled that feaces are jam, our people would not be surprised. Citizens MUST challenge such nonsensical comedies done in official capacity by GRZ organs. How can PF ministers be allowed to be in office when they were not independent before elections? The new constitution states that a President would appoint ministers outside parliament! But the people we have were NOT outside parliament, they were PF elected members! I really do not know what coffee is drank at State House in Lusaka, or what civil servants think about Zambia, BUT I recommend that they all should be fired and a new setup started to get a better start in 2016 after August 11th!

    Mwanga
    July 7, 2016 at 3:37 pm
    Reply

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