Support Govt over mining taxes but should be accountable – Pilato
By Staff Reporter
Activist Chama Fumba aka Pilato has asked for support to government in demanding for taxes from mining companies.
However, Pilato expressed his skepticism about the transparency and accountability of the money raised from the anticipated taxes by the ruling Patriotic Front government.
In a statement on his Facebook page, Pilato said the mining conglomarates were motivated by the greedy of making huge profits at the expense of the local people.
‘’I truly think and believe that we have a duty to support the government in demanding for more taxes from our mining companies and in ensuring that the right amounts are paid’’ said Pilato.
‘’The excuses being advanced by the mining companies are just masks to cover their excitement at the fact that they make more profits than they declare’’ said Pilato. ‘’Their move to cut jobs remains as an old trick to impose their will on the government and the people of Zambia”.
He said Zambians had not fully benefitted from their mineral resources but continued to surrender their pride and dignity in the name of keeping their jobs.
“It is like these mining companies have discovered an element of stupidity in us which they exploit to the maximum,” he said. “They think we don’t deserve more than low salaried jobs that they give to our people and they use that to dictate how much they should pay in taxes, how they should pay and when they should pay”.
Pilato said the conduct of the mines was unacceptable, emphasizing that the people deserved better and should demand as such.
He said the mining companies did only diminish the mineral. Wealth of the country but also left the environment and rivers polluted by the emissions from the mining activities.
“These are rivers where our people get water for daily use and for drinking but somehow these English speaking, 4X4 driving and nice smelling Zambians who have volunteered their intelligence for comfort have rubbished our people’s concerns and pretended it was okay to do so,’’ Pilato observed.
However, Pilato cautioned against blanket support to government demand for taxes from the mines.
“While it would be noble to support the government on this demand, I choose not to,” he said. “A government that refuses to be accountable to its people does not deserve the support of its people”.
Pilato said the demand for more money in taxes may be the most patriotic thing this unpatriotic government could ever do but there was no assurance the money would be to the benefit of the people.
‘’A government that prioritizes a private jet for its leader and neglects the health system of the 17 million people does not deserve more money not even from the exploitative investors,’’ he said. “It is now a confirmed fact that this government will do everything to get money in the name of the poor people but will not even care to use that money on the same poor people”.
He said the big question remained on who would benefit from new tax regime from the mining companies.
“You cannot continue filling up a leaking bucket if you are mentally sound, the first thing to do is mend it and then fill it up,’’ Pilato
observed. “This government has continued to misuse, abuse and steal public funds but still want more money. It’s unreasonable and not worth our support”.
Pilato said as much as demanded that the mines did the right thing by paying taxes, he wanted President Lungu and his ministers to become a little more accountable with public resources.
He said a better Zambia was possible.