Green Party president Peter Sinkamba has observed that government is exploiting Zambian subscribers by overtaxing them for TV levy under the TopStar Television deal.

In a statement today, Sinkamba appealled to Information Minister Kampamba Mulenga to address the concerns that had been raised by subscribers about the TopStar decoders following government’s decision to switch the television signal from analog to digital Television.

Sinkamba observed that subscribers who delayed to pay their subscription for TopStar were being disconnected from even viewing free channels like ZNBC, adding that it was unfair for government to be collecting TV levy from each subscriber through so many means.

“The complaints we have received from the general public concerning Top Star service delivery are quite disturbing. Subscribers that paid their subscriptions on 1st October had all their Top Star bouquets disconnected on 26th October, which was five days before the lapse of the month. What makes matters [more] disturbing is the fact that instead of disconnecting Top Start bouquets, even ZNBC TV channels which are supposed to be exempt were also disconnected,” Sinkamba stated.

“Our understanding is that provision of ZNBC TV services is universal, and assumed compulsory, as long as one possesses a TV set. For this reason, all households are statutorily bound to pay a government-pegged levy of K3, whether or not those households actually watch ZNBC TV service or not. Government has in fact made it a criminal offence if a person who possesses a TV set fails to pay the Levy. Furthermore, the levy is compulsorily collected on behalf of government through ZESCO provided a household is connected to the ZESCO grid, regardless that household possesses a TV set or not.”

And Sinkamba threatened to hold a peaceful protest against the services provided by government under the TopStar deal, if it did not address the concerns by subscribers.

“What make matters even more offensive is that TopStar subscribers that are connected to the ZESCO grid are made to pay the levy twice. The levy is collected from them when they pay for their Top Star bouquet subscription. The Levy is also collected from them through their ZESCO bill payments. With the Levy set to be increased from the current K3 to K5 per month from January, 2018, this double collection will be extremely burdensome to the poor majority, stated Sinkamba.

“In this regard, we would like to earnestly appeal to the Minister of Information Hon Kampamba Mulenga to quickly intervene and address these issues this month of November. Otherwise, we the Greens are set to start mobilising the masses to hold peaceful protests countrywide against this clearly exploitative TopStar deal.”