Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dora Siliya says government has taken over the responsibility of collecting ZNBC TV levy from from Zesco Limited, effective April 1, 2018, and given it to television service providers.

But Zesco national spokesperson Henry Kapata says the utility continued to collect TV levy after April 1, because there had been no communication from ZNBC instructing them to stop. He added that Zesco management was in talks with the national broadcaster to resolve the matter.

Briefing journalists at her office yesterday, Siliya said that collection of TV levy would only be done through subscriptions at companies that provide pay-television services like Multichoice, Topstar, Kwese among others.

“As of 1st April, all TV levies are to be paid using the Systems Management Services (SMS)s and in this case, these are the companies that provide television services. That is Multichoice, Topstar, Kwese and so on. So from 1st April, 2018, the K5 prescribed by government will be paid through subscription when one is paying for whatever service through these SMS companies that have to put K5 on top of the bouquet as part of the TV levy,” Siliya said.

“This means that from 1st April, ZESCO stopped collecting the TV levies through the electricity bills. It will now be paid only through subscription when one is paying for TV services. I think the important point to make is that this is law and we all have to obey the law. As such, everyone with a decoder for Television services in this country has to pay the K5 subscription for TV on top of their subscription fee. That said, I would like to once again ask ZNBC to stop collecting TV levies at K3 because this mandate has been given to the SMS.”

But Kapata said he was yesterday expecting correspondence from ZNBC instructing Zesco to stop collecting TV levy through deductions on electricity bills.

He said when entering into an agreement with ZNBC, Zesco signed a written memorandum of understanding, and it was only expected that the national broadcaster terminates the agreement in writing to the utility.

“We were supposed to be receiving a letter either yesterday or today. All I can say is that there is a memorandum of understanding between ZESCO and ZNBC and all the money we have been collecting goes to ZNBC. When we started this partnership there was an official correspondence to us as ZESCO. And so we have been having chats with them to resolve this issue. We are simply an agent of ZNBC and when we are communicated to by ZNBC, we will delete ourselves from collecting that money,” said Kapata.

“Your question is why have you continued collecting after April 1, 2018, and my answer is that there was some memorandum of understanding between two institutions and since the minister has made that pronouncement very clear, it means that ZNBC should be on the way with that correspondence. In fact, you can do well to also call ZNBC to ask.”

And in another development, Siliya also called on those propagating debates about President Lungu’s nationality to stop, adding that the debate was unproductive for the country.

“The other thing we want to share with you today is that the debate on President Edgar Lungu’s origin has to come to an end. We believe that it is unproductive, President Lungu has ran for elections in this country twice. He ran in 2015 and in 2016, and the prerequisite for one to run for elections is that first of all, they must be Zambian and so we believe that after he ran for elections twice, to continue to be having this debate is absolutely unproductive for the country. As such, we want to call upon all stakeholders that the country has got serious challenges which we can all work together on instead of being sidetracked on issues that are unproductive. Some of us are privileged to know the village which the President comes from in Petauke but the point really is that this is a man who has ran for elections twice in this country. So we hope this debate comes to an end but for those who continue to be doubting Thomases, we can’t help them in any way,” she said.

And in another development, Siliya said Zambia’s relationship with the Cuban government remained the same even after the expulsion of that country’s envoy.

“We believe this matter has been belaboured in the last three days. The government on behalf of the people must always be conscious of public interest and basically, the protection of our interests. When you say the government is being intolerant to divergent views, no, the government is in fact saying that we will continue as a nation to address issues that affect us. And we might not agree all the time but what we are saying is that we will not allow other people to come and interfere in our issues. The government used the options at its disposal as far as the 1961 international convention around diplomatic etiquette is concerned. When a diplomat in a foreign country, especially one who has just arrived engages themselves in partisan politics, it is the interest of all Zambians that we want self determination because that was the basis of independence,” she said.

“Let me make this point [clear], it is only this particular ambassador that government has an issue with. The relations between Zambia and Cuba continue and already, as stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, our High Commissioner in Canada has already discussed with the minister of Foreign Affairs in Cuba and this matter has been agreed that this ambassador is recalled and we expect a new one very soon. It is only this ambassador that we had an issue with that he can announce to support another political party in Zambia while he is here accredited to the government and by extension to the people of Zambia.”

Meanwhile, Siliya said government had started giving out land to ex-miners on the Copperbelt as promised.

“Government promised to settle most of the ex-miners after they were retrenched from the mines in various towns on the Copperbelt including Mufulira, Chingola, Ndola, Kitwe and some even as far as Solwezi in North Western Province. Those who showed interest were about 4000 ex-miners to be settled and since then, invitations to treat those offer letters have been sent out to a number of ex-miners,” said Siliya.

“Information from the Ministry of Lands is that at the moment, they have been working to find about 1066 pieces of land in Lufwanyama where they can settle. Out of the 4000 ex-miners who showed interest, about 1066 are to be settled in Lufwanyama, another 1000 will be settled in Chingola, another 500 to be settled in Solwezi and another 1000 to be settled in Mufulira. The Ministry of Land has informed us that they are almost completing 500 title deeds which they are hoping that in the next few weeks they can issue the first set of ex-miners and thereafter they will continue to do that in batches of 500 until they complete these 4000 miners who had shown interest.”