National Restoration Party (NAREP) leader Elias Chipimo says the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) wants to put a dead-end to the allegations by UPP leaders Saviour Chishimba regarding corrupt activities at the Revenue Authority.
And Mike Mulongoti says the speed at which ZRA has moved to stop Chishimba from exposing further corruption at the institution is shocking.
In an interview, Chipimo said it was unfortunate that the Authority had resolved to seek judicial proceedings over the matter instead of putting their side of the story forward in defence of the accusations.
Chipimo stressed the need for opposition political parties as well as other stakeholders to advocate for laws that protected whistle blowers.
“These are matters of accountability and transparency. ZRA should have rather taken the approach of putting their side of the story forward rather than taking the matter for judicial proceeding. Its very possible that the move by ZRA is meant to threaten whistle blowers who may want to hold government accountable especially on the use of public resources, and one of the issues that we should be advocating for, is the issue of laws that protect whistle blowers,” Chipimo said.
Chipimo also questioned “the exaggerated K100 billion” which the Authority demanded from Chishimba for his “malicious falsehood”.
“There is somewhat an exaggerated claim in terms of what is being demanded by the Authority, looking at that figure, and even if there was some sort of verification, I think that the amount is designed to send a message that they really want to address this issue dead-on, I don’t think even in their own estimation there is a genuine belief that even if they are awarded the matter or its decided in their favor, they could actually receive K100 billion, its about reputation,” he said.
“It is very unfortunate because we want responsible opposition, and we also want this to be balanced out by not allowing the opposition to be silenced if they have evidence or want to raise allegation about transparency.”
Chipimo said it was unprecedented for the Revenue Authority to sue a whistleblower.
“I don’t think that we ever had a situation where the Revenue Authority had sued somebody for defaming it or in order to protect its reputation. But this must be the result of a clear decision by the leadership within ZRA to defend their position, to defend what they believe to be the truth. So we should welcome the decision to have the matter heard before the courts of law.”
He encouraged Chishimba to stand on firm ground with his allegations against ZRA.
“You must remember that if the allegation by Mr. Chishimba is true, then he will have his day in court and there will be nothing to worry about, the big challenge is the cost of defending this allegation and that can be quiet a heavy cost and seeing that the cost of lawyers has gone up,” said Chipimo.
And Mulongoti said ZRA was scared of what Chishimba was holding.
“The man made the allegations just last week, or is it this week, and you want to stop him before he finishes. You cannot rush to court to prevent people from questioning your integrity. That is wrong,” Mulongoti said.
“Let the man finish what he has first before you can go to court to challenge what he has on you. Don’t stop whistleblowers from keeping government institutions accountable.”