A CROSS section of Zambians, civil society organisations and senior citizens have resolved to take out public interest litigation to seek redress over the government’s imposition of a 30 ngwee levy on all Internet-based calls and the outsourcing by the Road Transport and Safety Agency of some of its statutory functions.
According to the outcome of the Consultative meeting convened by Dante Saunders, Laura Miti, McDonald Chipenzi and the Justice Forum Zambia Limited at Kapingila House on Wednesday night, the conveners’ representative Haimbe Mulambo said there was a lack of transparency and information for public scrutiny regarding, among other things, the way the 30 ngwee tariff was arrived at and how it would be implemented.
“As stated in the Notice convening the meeting, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss topical issues affecting members of the general public, and in particular, the imposition by government of a 30 ngwee levy on all Internet based calls; and the outsourcing by the Road Transport and Safety Agency (‘RTSA’) of some of its statutory functions. Key observations made during discussion of the above issues, included but were not limited to the following: there is a need to encourage members of the general public to use legally available channels to voice their concerns over matters affecting them,” Mulambo said.
He said the conveners would also seek interpretation from the courts of law as to whether the concession agreement RTSA has signed to outsource some of its services was in line with its functions and objectives of as enshrined in the road traffic Act No 11 of 2002, which established the agency.
“Both the (30 ngwee tariff) and (outsourcing RTSA’s statutory functions) appear to be aimed at revenue generation from an already overtaxed population. From a broad perspective, considering all other taxes, levies, fees, fines and tariffs such as TV levies, borehole fees and excessive fines, to mention but a few, this mode of revenue generation is abusive of the rights of all affected members of the public and must be put to a stop. The use of delegated legislation such as Statutory Instruments and the use of private agreements and other methods which do not undergo any public veto or indeed any parliamentary scrutiny to effect policy decisions is undesirable as such methods of implementation are devoid of input from members of the public who are key stakeholders in all such matters. The imposition of taxes, levies, fees and other revenue generating measures by government and its agencies appears to be limitless and does not offer citizens any option but to comply,” Mulambo said.
“It is therefore abusive of those affected by such imposition and must be amenable to challenge via legally available means; and there is a serious concern around the apparent use of private personal information, which is also security sensitive in its nature, during the implementation of these policy decisions. No consent has been sought or obtained from the affected people prior to such information being divulged to 3rd parties who are not legally entitled to have access to such information. In particular, the concessionaire in the agreement entered into by RTSA will, of necessity, have access to security sensitive private information and similarly the collection of a levy for Internet based calls entails that privacy will be compromised.”
He also said the meeting would engage the government and all relevant authorities with a view to seeking clarity and obtaining information that include copies of all relevant agreements in relation to the intended 30 ngwee levy, the RTSA concession agreement and other similar matters that have an impact on the general public.
“In view of the above, it was unanimously resolved by those present at the meeting as follows, to engage government and all relevant authorities with a view to seeking clarity and obtaining information, including copies of all relevant agreements, in relation to the intended 30 ngwee levy, the RTSA concession agreement and other similar matters that have an impact on the general public. To take out public interest litigation in order to seek redress over the areas of concern observed in the meeting as appropriate. With regard to the RTSA concession agreement specifically, to seek interpretation from the courts of law as to whether the agreement is in keeping with the functions and objectives of RTSA as enshrined in the road traffic Act No 11 of 2002 which established RTSA,” said Mulambo.
“There was also a resolution to engage civil society with a view to galvanizing them to take up and champion this cause in the public interest and to hold the government and its agencies accountable to the general public for their actions by using legally available channels.”