Thursday 27 June 2013

New Tax Can Increase Zambia’s Revenue Collection

By Paul Shalala in Pretoria, South Africa

A 36 member country pan-African tax administration body has observed that the best way of increasing Zambia’s tax base is to introduce a new presumptive tax which can capture millions of Zambians in the informal sector.

African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Executive Secretary Logan Wort says introducing a presumptive tax will ensure that even players in the informal sector can now start paying tax to improve Zambia’s revenue collection and relieve the burden on the few tax payers in the formal sector.

Mr Wort says the presumptive tax can be levied on each respective business depending on its annual turnover.

He said this kind of tax can be best collected using a mobile phone as has been the case in Kenya where it has been effectively implemented.

Mr Wort said this in the South African Pretoria on Wednesday when he addressed a group of ten journalists from across Africa who are in South Africa on a one week Reuters training in Advanced Financial and Governance Reporting.

Meanwhile, Mr Wort says there is need for African tax administrators to adopt electronic systems of collecting tax in order to avoid corruption.

He said in countries where technology had been employed to collect tax, there is less contact between people and corruption is minimized.

Of the 13 million Zambians, only about 500, 000 are said to be paying tax, leaving millions of potential tax payers out of the tax band.

Zambia was the first country to have ratified the African Tax Administration Forum’s Agreement three years ago ahead of the organisation’s host country South Africa and other African countries.

Since inception , ATAF has carried out research on tax administration on the continent and is advising the thirty six member countries on the best practices of tax administration.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Final Draft Constitution Is Possible By 30 June 2013

By Paul Shalala

The Technical Committee on Drafting the Republican Constitution can produce the final draft constitution by 30 June, 2013 as per their own set deadline. This is very possible because they have all the human resource, the brains, financial resources, time and most of all, they have the necessary resolutions from various stakeholders to guide them in the drafting process.

There is no excuse which can be used to justify their request to extend the process by another six months to December 2013.

In the past two years, I have closely followed and reported on every step of this current constitution making process. As a journalist specially trained in Germany to report on politics and governance issues, I have taken the constitution making personal project. So far, I know everything about this business of constitution making process and not even members of the Technical Committee can lie to me that they need six more months to draft the articles of the constitution because the most difficult parts of this process have already passed.

I have travelled this country doing stories on the constitution and making sure that every voice of a well-meaning Zambian is heard in this process which is likely to change the course of the nation.

Why six months extension is unjustified

At the moment, the Technical Committee has resolutions from District Consultative Fora, Provincial Conventions, the Sector Groups Convention, the National Convention and from international constitutional experts.

All these resolutions are the basis on which the committee is supposed to base its contents for the final draft constitution.

Of all the consultative fora, the most recent was the National Convention which was held in late April this year and its resolutions are being held in soft copy by the Technical Committee.

Between April and 30th June is a two months period in which the Technical Committee is supposed to prepare the draft constitution. Considering that the resolutions are in soft copy, it is easy for the committee to edit them and prepare a document based on how stakeholders chose and voted on articles to have in their supreme law of the land.

This is not a job which can take two months, it can only take a period of a few weeks because the articles were already voted for by the people of Zambia through the various consultative fora. The committee’s job therefore at this stage is just to consolidate views from the people as contained in the rapporteur’s reports and consolidated resolutions.

With this background, I still argue that the two weeks remaining before the Technical Committee’s self imposed deadline of handing over document to President Michael Sata by June 30, 2013 is possible. There is ample time to finalise this document and the Zambian people are highly expectant of this long overdue document.

How far is the drafting process?

Last month, the Technical Committee split itself in working groups according to the different parts of the constitution in order to deliberate on specific articles and bring back resolutions to the plenary for formal adoption of articles. This process was supposed to take a few weeks before the document was to be handed over to the drafters in late May for preparation of the final draft constitution.

I personally covered a session of the plenary where members of the Technical Committee was adopting articles and the process seemed smooth.

With the passing of time, the public was informed that the committee had asked for a six months extension to complete the process. The question that begs an answer is what is delaying the process when all the documents are already available?


Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba on 11 June, 2013 told journalists at a press briefing that the current constitution making process had gobbled Kr100 million. This is an amount of money which was spent on getting views from the Zambian people. Through its request for a six months extension, the Technical

Committee hoped to use another Kr44 million through a supplementary budget. To be realistic, this is too much money to fund a simple activity that can be done within the shortest period of time. Mr Kabimba is justified to have described this request as “unreasonable and outrageous” because most stakeholders want this process to come to an end so that the way forward in this current constitution making process can be known.


As a matter of urgency, the Technical Committee must double its efforts and produce the final draft constitution by 30 June. Now that government has rejected their request for an extension, the committee has no option but to produce the document whose contents are already there.