THAT is why we have spoken out against contrived charges against the Minister of Finance, Alexander Chikwanda.
We must put the culture of blackmail and calumny behind us, because it has hurt too many innocent people before.
When we warned Zambians that the attacks against Mr Chikwanda were mere political rhetoric without substance about his style of running public office, we did not expect the campaign against the man in charge of the national treasury would come crashing so soon.
In the past week or so, Mr Chikwanda has been in the news for all the wrong reasons- mismanagement of the mining sector.
Mr Chikwanda has been asked to resign from his public office by unlikely sources-men of God.
While we don’t doubt the integrity of men of God, we have been wondering whether they have read the finer details of Government documents they have been using to crucify Mr Chikwanda.
We say this because when the campaign against Mr Chikwanda started, the headlines were all about how Minister of Finance has mismanaged the mining sector.
Mr Chikwanda was held responsible for perceived wrongs in a law which had the full backing of cabinet.
For the uninitiated, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Value Added Tax (VAT) Rule 18 is very much alive and all government functionaries, especially those involved in trade, are aware of the State’s responsibilities to exporters.
This rule states that a Zambian exporter who submits VAT documentation from an importing country can be refunded.
The mines are not the only ones exporting products from Zambia as many would confirm that a lot of raw materials are everyday finding their way out of Zambia and the exporters are entitled to VAT refund upon production of necessary documentation. How the law became Mr Chikwanda baby to the exclusion of other cabinet members, only his accusers can explain. But what we know is that when Mr Chikwanda’s attackers realised this VAT lie had short legs, they have jumped on the back of one of the many suppliers to the mines.
We have said it before that mining is a complicated business whose rewards or benefits are not immediately realised when a project commences.
Some suppliers keep on providing the mines with various goods and services without ever knowing whether they would be future benefits. Even mine owners take enormous financial risks in their digging for various minerals without knowing whether they would have reasonable returns.
This is the reason why we are asking the question; If Mr Chikwanda is just a shareholder in one of the supplying companies, should this motivate Government to deny what rightly belongs to the mines.
Why is Father Richard Luonde insinuating that immediately the mines are refunded their VAT, they will line up at Mr Chikwanda’s house to pay him as a supplier? We are calling on Fr Luonde to have a coordinated approach to the issues he is feeding the public. It is wrong for the man of God to be attacking a Government minister without any reasonable justification.