POLITICIANS should always weigh their words before making careless and alarming public statements such as impeaching President Edger Lungu over matters that demand thorough debate and consultations before making a decision, Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) president Edwin Sakala has said.
Mr Sakala said some of the national issues such as the mineral royalty tax regime was complex and required extensive internal consultation and the call for the impeachment of President Lungu by Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi were reckless, uncalled for and nothing but political sensationalism.
And Mr Milupi has confessed that cabinet’s approval of the Mineral Royalty Tax regime is in line with what he has been calling for over a long period of time and that government should not look at the opposition as enemies, but as partners in development.
Commenting on the approved changes to the Mineral Royalty Tax regime, Mr. Milupi told the Daily Nation in an interview yesterday that it was good that government had followed procedure on how the issue was to be tackled and maintained that if President Edgar Lungu had flouted the provisions of the law, then the ground was fertile for his impeachment.
“What I said is exactly what they have done though I was attacked by [Chief Government Spokesperson] Chishimba Kambwili and you people from the Daily Nation. Act 114 Clause 1 clearly stipulates that changes on mineral royalty tax can not be imposed on people without an act of Parliament,” Mr Milupi said.
“If the president had failed to do so, then he should have been impeached because impeachment of the president occurs when he fails to honour that which is constitutional,” he explained.
He said that what remained to be seen was how government would cushion its budget shortfall due to disparities in the copper prices between its projections and what was obtaining on the ground.
He also said the presentation of the recommendations to parliament in June will mean that the mining companies will still be guided by the existing mining tax laws as the new law may only be enacted in July.
“The changes will only be presented to parliament for ratification during the next sitting in June and this means that law will only be in effect around July. This means by the time the law is enacted, it will be July.
“So, from January to July, the mining firms will be accruing tax liability because they will be guided by the current law as it is the one that will be applicable,” he explained.
And Mr. Milupi has observed that it was paramount for government to listen to the opposition political parties because there was no enmity between the opposition and the ruling party. He said opposition political parties should be embraced in its quest to provide checks and balances and that government should always be receptive to its proposals.
Cabinet on Monday approved changes to the Mineral Royalty Tax regime following extensive consultations with the mining industry in the light of significant changes in the fundamental assumptions upon which the law was based and the sudden fall in the price of copper on the international market.
According to Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, Amos Chanda, the 2015 budget approved by Parliament had the assumption that the price of copper was going to be US$6,780 per tonne but this has reduced to US$5,665 representing a reduction of $1,115. Production, which was also assumed to, stay at a peak of 959,696 tonnes has since dropped to 839,000 tonnes representing a drop by 130,696 tonnes.