A WITNESS from Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) has told the court that freelance journalist, Chanda Chimba and his Phibajo Production, a company that produced the ‘Stand Up for Zambia’ programme in the run-up to the 2011 general elections, evaded paying tax.
ZRA assistant inspector, medium tax office, Dennis Banda, also told the court that there was no activity on Phibajo from the time it was opened in 2005 to date.
But Chimba, through his defence lawyer Charles Lisita, objected to the line of evidence by the State witness, saying the offences he was facing had nothing to do with paying tax.
The visibly annoyed Chimba later, after the court adjourned to the chambers, lashed out at some investigation officers who were in court, accusing them of investigating him even when he was already undergoing trial.
This is in a matter in which Chimba is jointly charged together with former Information and Broadcasting Services minister Ronnie Shikapwasha and his former permanent secretary Sam Phiri with abuse of authority and being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Chimba is charged with three counts of unlawful printing, publication and possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Mr Banda, 33, told principal magistrate Obister Musukwa yesterday that a search he conducted on Chimba and Phibajo’s accounts established that they did not meet their tax obligations.
Mr Banda said that this meant that Chimba and Phibajo, who are the tax payers in this case, had not been remitting their tax obligations from February 17, 2005 to date.
But Chimba objected to the testimony adduced by Mr Banda, saying he was not in court for the charge of evading tax and could not see how that was becoming an issue.
At this point, Mr Musukwa invited the defence and the State to his chambers for a private discussion.
Chimba later instructed his lawyers to seek an adjournment as he wanted to consult over confidential issues.
But the State objected to the application saying there was no specific reason given to the court for want of an adjournment and that the same was aimed at delaying the case further.
Mr Musukwa in his ruling said it was Chimba’s constitutional right to consult with his lawyer at any stage of the case and granted the application.
Earlier, the matter delayed to take off because Shikapwasha was not before court. He finally arrived around 10:40 hours and apologised to the court that he had mixed up the dates.
Trial continues on September 30, 2014.
Times of Zambia