Wednesday, June 02, 2010
By Mwila Chansa in Kitwe
Wed 02 June 2010, 04:00 CAT
OPERATIONS at Kalulushi Municipal Council on the Copperbelt have been hampered by the non-payment of about K9 billion by the Chinese-run Chambishi Copper Smelter (CCS) in terms of rates. Sources disclosed that the council was unable to recover the money owed in rates due to alleged interference by ‘higher authorities’ in Lusaka.
The sources said the higher authorities in Lusaka had instructed Kalulushi Municipal Council not to send bailiffs to recover the money owed by CCS.
In the recent past, President Rupiah Banda has repeatedly accused councils, especially those dominated by the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) in Lusaka and the Copperbelt of stealing billions of kwachas collected through rates and yet failing to provide services to the people.
The sources complained that the council was seriously limping as it was struggling to provide services as well as pay salaries.
“In the spirit of negotiation, the company CCS had written to the council requesting for remission of rates under section 23 of the rating Act Cap 283 of the Laws of Zambia and the council conceded to their request and gave them 30 per cent rebate. But despite the remission, the Chinese company has still failed to pay the council,” the source said.
“This has really compromised service delivery and the council is not even able to pay salaries as you know, that institution is labour-intensive.”
The source explained that recently, the parliamentary committee on local government, housing and chiefs’ affairs chaired by Mfuwe member of parliament Mwimba Malama expressed displeasure on why Kalulushi Municipal Council had not collected the money owed and that in response, Town Clerk Maxwell Kabanda told them that he was unable to move because he was under instructions from Lusaka not to send bailiffs.
The source added that the committee observed that if people were to appreciate the investments in the Multi-facility Economic Zones (MFEZ), it was important that investors in those areas paid rates because that was a legal requirement.
When contacted on Monday afternoon, local government and housing minister Eustakio Kazonga said he was in a meeting outside Lusaka and requested this reporter to get back to him the following morning Tuesday.
“I need to find out where that instruction is coming from and right now, I’m in a meeting outside Lusaka. Would you phone me later in the day or first thing tomorrow Tuesday morning?” he asked.
But when contacted yesterday morning, Kazonga’s phone was not reachable.