THE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection has pledged to continue being a voice for the voiceless by offering checks and balances to the current government and the opposition.
Addressing journalists during a media interaction in Lusaka yesterday, JCTR executive director Fr Emmanuel Mumba, who has just taken over from Fr Leonard Chiti, noted that the faith-based organisation would deliver to Zambians’ expectations.
The JCTR is a Catholic organisation that engages into research, education and advocacy that promotes study and action on issues linking Christian faith and social justice in Zambia and Malawi.
“We shall continue to bring to the fore and confront issues affecting the well-being of our people. We continue to critically research on, and analyse with a view of empowering and protecting our people, issues bordering on governance, management and distribution of public resources, transparency and accountability, human rights, gender equality and the integrity of creation,” Fr Mumba said.
He also indicated that the JCTR’s rapport with various media houses in Zambia would result in increased human rights promotion and “ameliorating our mitigation of the plight of our people, especially the poor and less privileged”.
“Given that Zambia is endowed with natural resources, it is imperative for the JCTR to engage electronic and print media houses as we all strive to promote the common good, social justice and the equal distribution and access to resources such as access to water, sanitation, health and education,” Fr Mumba observed.
“On the political front, it is JCTR’s hope that democracy and the rule of law will continue to prevail. It is our prayer that the dialogue process under the auspices of the Commonwealth will yield positive results. We hope that the access to information bill will be finalised and the cloud hanging over the public order Act will soon clear.”
On matters of the economy, Fr Mumba pointed out that the cost of living has consistently been increasing in the last year, making it difficult for many households to access basic needs.
“The budget was also released at the time the economy is trying to fully recover from economic turbulence of 2015 and 2016. Overall, the high intentions of reducing poverty, inequality and creating jobs so that no one is left behind seems to fall short of the revenue measures proposed,” he said.
Fr Mumba stressed that while the JCTR acknowledged measures like the removal of five year tax holidays offered to foreign companies, the aggregate proposed financing strategies were inadequate to deliver the good intentions of the 2018 national budget.
“The budget is almost silent on effectively taxing mining companies. The informal sector is another sector that has been almost let scot-free. The challenges facing collection of informal sector taxes go beyond the upward adjustment of informal sector tax such as base tax which the Minister (of Finance) announced but administration of the tax,” explained Fr Mumba.
“The budget should have also provided more incentives for local industrialisation. Other than creation of industrial economic zones and parks, the budget has not offered much on how it will industrialise the economy and create jobs. The budget also has no relief to workers as they continue to bear the burden of generating tax revenues through pay as you earn.”