PERSONAL INTEGRITY

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The Zambia Revenue Authority must be commended for abolishing the iniquitous 15 percent tax holiday accorded to the Sun International Hotel.

This incentive was time specific and could have been enjoyed in perpetuity.

It is incredible that for the last 19 years this group has enjoyed this benefit which clearly runs counter to the very letter and spirit of the privilege extended as an incentive to fresh investment in Zambia.

It is very clear that its continued enjoyment, although enshrined in an agreement was an abuse that should not be countenanced nor tolerated.

We therefore support calls for a thorough forensic investigation to determine circumstances that led to this serious abuse and on completion of such an investigation the country must be refunded with interest all the value lost in the duration of the tax break.

The entire agreement must be re-evaluated to determine if any other clauses exist that deprive Zambians of their due benefit.  For example, it has been suggested that the entire frontage of Zambia’s national heritage, the Victoria Falls is part of the Sun International agreement to which the general public is allowed as a general favour.  If it is true then immediate measures must be taken to rectify the situation including cancellation of the entire sale of the hotel.

While congratulating ZRA, a number of questions, some criminal in nature must be raised and we hope our normally lethargic law enforcement agencies and equally inept National Prosecution Authority will seriously examine this matter and make a decision to prosecute those behind the abuse.

As we write there’s a man languishing in prison for having been found with python skins which he inherited. He has been sentenced to five years in prison for being found in possession of government trophy.

His explanation, vindicates a victim who had neither mens rea or indeed actus reus, elements that constitute criminal intent.

On the contrary, we have people that have virtually sold the nation birthright with very clear intent to deprive in perpetuity proceeds that should have rightly belonged to the Zambian people.

Nothing is going to happen to such people because they enjoy privilege and therefore protection from law enforcement agencies that should ensure that large scale plunder of national assets should be punished and punished severely to deter others from using their privileged position to earn ill gotten wealth for themselves and their friends.

Our law enforcement agencies are particularly inept and therefore failing in their duty to protect the nation from individuals and groups that have set for themselves an agenda to undermine the efforts of genuine patriots intent on making a positive mark in national development.

An impression has been inculcated that the long arm of the law shrivels and balks at the sight of well resourced criminals commanding resources including formidable legal support.  They would however, rather ounce on an innocent villager with python skins or indeed ordinary villagers using recreational marijuana which is currently being decriminalized in the rest of the free world.

This discrepancy and anomaly has not been lost on the Zambian people and has to a large degree eroded the confidence, support and therefore goodwill of Zambians.

Time has come for law enforcement agencies to be even handed and apprehend those who betray national interests. Such people should not be allowed to benefit from proceeds of crime or indeed wrong doing.

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