By Bright Chikele:
Fred M’membe’s irreverent, vile and virulent attack on the judiciary and tax authorities is otiose, infantile and certainly not supported by logic.
The intentional cheating on taxes, and not the Judges and Tax authorities has brought about the current quagmire he finds himself in.
It is not fair to attack officers who cannot defend themselves publicly even when they are wrongly accused and to suggest irrationality or unethical conduct on their part is a slur that is totally undeserved and must be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.
These officers are simply enforcing tax law.
It is common knowledge that the Post has been bedeviled by tax default from as far back as 2009. In 2011 ZRA was forced to write off almost K16million thereafter inexplicably the company stopped paying tax, until prompted into unsuccessful schemes of payment.
In September 2014 ZRA rejected yet another Post proposal to pay their debt in installments and levied distress resulting in the Authority moving into the Post premises. This resulted in a Judicial review applications before Judge Siavwapa who noted that what the Post was fighting against was not the payment of the outstanding debt but the manner it was to be paid.
While upholding the claim by ZRA, judge Siavwapa was concerned that levying distress would close the company. He ordered that the Post should make itself current within ninety days of the disposal of the appeal. ZRA felt that the judgment was ambiguous and on 18th November filed an application seeking interpretation and clarification of the stay, while the Post appealed to the Supreme Court.
Aggrieved that ZRA had not returned computers and other documents seized earlier the Post applied to commence contempt proceedings before Judge Sikazwe who ordered ZRA to return computers and not levy distress until determination of the matter in the Supreme Court.
Too late for the Post, ZRA authorities discovered damning evidence gleaned from computers and documents revealing that the Post had cheated on their declaration. The actual amount that should have been declared was K53million.
On 16th June 2016 the Supreme Court delivered its judgment reversing and setting aside the stay by Judge Siavwapa, which had been partially sustained by Judge Sikazwe. These have all fallen away.
Dishonesty has a price and M’membe is paying for it while dragging his employees and many other people, who are owed money and cannot, now, recover it, into financial penury.
If anything Zambians are wondering why ZRA is treating Fred M’membe with kid’s gloves, when he qualifies to be investigated and prosecuted for the offence of tax evasion. It is amazing that even after Garnishee he continues to operate with impunity and conducts business openly when he should be hanging his head in shame for being corrupt and owing huge amounts to the people of Zambia.
He is instead attacking the Judiciary!