On 18 August 2021, the Zambia Whistleblower Facebook page published a story claiming that one of Zambia’s largest mobile network service providers Airtel Networks Zambia Plc has not been paying taxes to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) for seven years, accumulating a tax debt of K580million. The Zambia Whistleblower article quoted civil rights activist Mr. Brebner Changala, who encouraged the ZRA to close Airtel for non-compliance with tax requirements. Mr Changala said this would also help ZRA to prove that the closure of the Post Newspapers was not political. The report further claimed that Airtel committed a criminal offence, and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should take interest as they may have falsified some figures for seven years. The Zambia Whistleblower alludes that prior to their post, ZRA sent a demand notice of K580milion to Airtel for unpaid and Airtel has been asked to pay within five working days.
The fact-checking process has determined as false the claim that Airtel Networks Zambia Plc has not been paying taxes amounting to K580 million to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) for seven years. Airtel Networks Zambia on August 19th, 2021 released a statement dispelling the claims of their non-compliance with tax requirements. The statement states that Airtel has discharged and has continued to discharge all its statutory liabilities on time and all financial statements of the company are in the public domain by virtue of it been listed in the Lusaka Stock Exchange. The Zambia Revenue Authority also issued a statement on their official Facebook page urging the general public to ignore the fake story circulating on social media about Airtel which they stated is aimed at discrediting the revenue performance of the Authority. ZRA stated that contrary to the reports, they had not written to Airtel Networks Zambia requesting the company to settle taxes because it has clear channels of engaging all its taxpayers regarding any tax liabilities. It was further stated by ZRA that the Authority enjoys a good working relationship with Airtel Networks Zambia due to its good compliance. The iVerify team reached out to Mr. Brebner Changala who was quoted as the source of the claims made by the Zambian Whistleblower. Mr. Changala stated via phone call that he didn’t make such statements. The fact checking process also confirmed that the Airtel Networks Zambia PLC annual reports, which include details on financials, for 2013 to 2020 have been published on their website