UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the newly introduced SI that requires citizens to apply and pay fees before drilling boreholes is broad daylight robbery from an already over-taxed population.

And Hichilema has condemned the move by PF to demolish over 4,000 houses in Chipata, Eastern Province, on grounds that they were built illegally.

But Patriots for Economic Progress leader Sean Tembo has hailed government for introducing borehole fees saying if someone can spend over K10,000 on drilling a borehole, they can afford to pay a fee for it as well.

In a statement issued by HH, Sunday, Hichilema stated that the SI was shocking.

“We have noted with displeasure the levels of yet more punitive taxes being imposed on the country by the Patriotic Front party leaders. The latest being the Borehole and Ground Water Tax which is only meant to cripple the people who are already being overburdened with tax by Mr Edgar Lungu’s regime. In no uncertain terms, we demand that PF through its leader cancels this new tax on boreholes and ground water as it will not in any way benefit the poor. These taxes being introduced by the PF are being done in bad faith and are only channels for them to swindle citizens through corruption. As a people with common values, we must stop them because it is clear that they are only here to destroy our country and not build. Our people have lived for centuries especially in rural areas without being taxed for the use of ground water but this new statutory instrument (SI) signed by the PF is shocking not only to us but the country as a whole,” Hichilema stated.

“A UPND government would have focused our energies on ensuring that we provide safe drinking water for our people regardless of the locality. One cannot imagine a villager in Mbangomba, Kashinakazhi, Shangombo or indeed Kaputa being taxed and in an exorbitant manner for using their borehole, groundwater, dam or indeed naturally flowing water. This is the highest level of not only plundering of public resources but also daylight robbery from the already over-taxed population by the PF.”

And Hichilema condemned the move by the PF to demolish over 4, 000 houses belonging to our people in Chipata, Eastern Province, on grounds that they were built illegally.

“Water and land are the preserve of our people and in the same vein, we wish to furthermore condemn the move by the PF to demolish over 4,000 houses belonging to our people in Chipata, Eastern Province, on grounds that they were built illegally. Our brothers have lived on that piece of land for too long and the PF cannot today claim that they are illegally staying on that land. They were given that land by the government agencies such as the council and therefore plans to move them away are unwarranted and must be stopped forthwith. We understand that PF including Mr Edgar Lungu are grabbing land from the poor everywhere and then selling these pieces of land to the highest bidder leaving our people homeless. This is heartlessness of the worst kind. Therefore, we direct that no single house on the earmarked 4,000 should be demolished by the PF. It has become increasingly clear, that PF is only on a path of extorting our people not only through exorbitant taxes but also grabbing their only capital asset which is land. We in the UPND believe that land belongs to the people and we appeal to our traditional leaders across the country, to safeguard the land which currently may be the only asset which instils in us a sense of pride and freedom,” stated Hichilema.

But Tembo welcomed regulations on borehole drilling and the fees attached to them.

“As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), we support the newly introduced regulations for borehole drilling including the fees for borehole permit application registration, which we believe are reasonable. If someone can afford to pay K10,000 for a borehole, then why can’t they pay K833 for registration of the borehole so as to meet the cost of site inspection? Let us not develop a habit of opposing everything, just for the sake of opposing. The bottom line is that underground water abstraction had to be regulated so that people do not drill boreholes anywhere and everywhere, including next to pit latrines, septic tanks etc. PeP supports progressive ideas regardless of where they come from, provided they are for the general good of society and our country. If the fees where exorbitant, then we would have challenged this SI, but the fees are reasonable,” stated Tembo.