‘Post blackmailing Chikwanda’

A POST newspaper reporter, who is understood to be a close friend of Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda ,secretly recorded the private conversation which the newspaper published yesterday.  Sources have told the Daily nation that journalists from the Post carry tracking and recording devices that are used to record unsuspecting sources and Mr Chikwanda has become a victim of such tricks and is now being blackmailed.

A Post reporter is said to have met Mr Chikwanda at his residence on 21st August at which the verbatim story published yesterday in the newspaper was recorded.

It is believed that the reporter has over the years been a close family friend of Mr Chikwanda and the Finance minister did not have the slighest idea  that he was being recorded and later be blackmailed using the conversation he had with the reporter.

Former president Rupiah Banda has been a victim of such unconventional methods of gathering news as his coversation with one of the Post reporters was published verbatim in the newspaper.

And a cross section of society has welcomed the decision by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to demand that the Post Newspaper meets its tax obligations which has over the years accumulated to K27 million.

And the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) says Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda does not instruct it to undertake enforcement action against taxpayers.

The Zambians have however strongly condemned the spying and blackmailing of Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda.

Mike Mulongoti, the president of the People’s Party (PP) has said it was unfortunate that the Post Newspaper had turned itself into a medium of perpetrating hatred against individuals perceived to be their enemies.

He said recording citizens’ private conversations and publishing such dialogue bordered on criminality because that was tantamount to invasion of privacy of individuals.

Mr Mulongoti challenged the Post Newspaper to name the other person Mr Chikwanda was having a conversation with and why such a dialogue was recorded when the two were having a private talk at the residence of the Finance Minister.

He said there was nothing wrong Mr Chikwanda had said in the conversation because it was no longer a secret that President Michael Sata was not in good health as his physical appearance and voice had completely changed.

Mr Mulongoti said Mr Chikwanda as Finance Minister was always in touch with donors and that it would not be diplomatically correct to lie about the health status of President Sata.

He said the issue of President Sata’s failing health was stressing not only Mr Chikwanda but all Zambians who cared and loved the Head of State and that it was morally incorrect for the Post Newspaper to blackmail Mr Chikwanda over a conversation he had at his residence.

Mr Mulongoti explained that the Post was trying to divert the attention of Zambians from their unpaid taxes to ZRA by blackmailing Mr Chikwanda who had nothing to do with their failure to meet their tax obligations.

And former ambassador to Japan Joe Mwale on Tuesday staged a sole protest at the Post Newspaper offices soon after a combined team of ZRA and police officers raided the newspaper premises in a bid to recover K27 million owed to the revenue authority in unpaid taxes.

Ambassador Mwale shocked the Post staff when he stormed their premises demanding that the newspaper should pay ZRA or they risked facing a citizens’ arrest and have some of their assets seized.

Patriotic Front (PF) youths have charged that the Post Newspaper was going to face the wrath of the ruling party because it had become clear that the newspaper company was evading tax.

Lusaka PF strong man Julius Komaki who is former vice chairman of the ruling party demanded that the Post Newspaper should immediately settle the debt and commended ZRA for rejecting the payment plan because there was a possibility that the newspaper was going to continue defaulting.

Mr Komaki said the Post had over the years been pontificating cleanliness and corrupt free yet the newspaper had been robbing Zambians through unpaid taxes.

Benja Siwila has paid tribute to President Sata and his government for refusing to be used by the Post Newspaper and ensuring that there were no sacred cows in the fight against corruption.

Mr Siwila called on opposition political parties, trade unions, the civil society and student bodies to rise against the Post Newspaper for avoiding to meet its tax obligations.

And the ZRA’s Research and Planning Department has said that the authority had a statutory duty to collect revenue on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

ZRA said the Zambian Citizenry had a civic responsibility to express concern when players in the economy disregard the law passed by parliament for the timely collection of the much needed revenue for Government to provide services and achieve its development agenda.

The authority added that non–compliance with the tax laws was expensive.

“ZRA will therefore continue to ensure that taxpayers that evade taxes are investigated and possibly prosecuted,” ZRA said.

On Tuesday, ZRA and the Zambia Police raided the Post Newspapers Limited offices along Bwinjimfumu Road for avoiding to meet its tax obligations which has over the years accumulated to a whopping K26,856,230.91 in unpaid taxes.

The combined team of ZRA and police officers arrived at the Post Newspaper offices in Rhodespark area around 0900hours and immediately sealed off the administration offices to conduct an inventory of assets in an attempt to recover more than K26 million in tax default.