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No justification for crime

THE plight of most disabled people in Zambia is well known and their need for empowerment through any means possible cannot be overemphasised.
Like able-bodied people, they too thrive to live comfortable lives, which is why Government has put in place interventions for them to access social services. One of the ways in which people living with disabilities are being helped is through tax exemptions using their identity cards when they want to import things to assist them, like vehicles, motorised wheelchairs and any other device helpful to them. But while some disabled people are using their identity cards honestly, it has been reported that others are selling their identity cards to fraudsters who use them to order vehicles and avoid paying tax. Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) public relations manager Topsy Sikalinda said some unscrupulous people recently imported vehicles in the pretext that they were disabled to avoid paying tax. This is sad considering that Government and some organisations have always been sensitive to the plight of disabled people. Although Government cannot meet all their needs, it is not right for them to aid fraudsters in importing goods illegally. People living with disabilities should realise that those who buy identity cards from them are committing a crime by using other people’s names to avoid paying tax to ZRA. This is tantamount to selling themselves at a pittance because by buying identity cards from disabled people, fraudsters are dodging tax obligations. Those involved in the illegal act of selling their identity cards to unscrupulous people must stop and use the documentations to improve their own livelihoods. We call upon all those taking advantage of the plight of disabled people to desist from the illegal act because it amounts to denying disabled people their rights. We echo the sentiments by Frankson Musukwa, vice-president of a consortium of organisations for people living with disabilities, that those involved in selling identity cards risk being arrested and prosecuted. This is because their acts amount to conspiracy in the commission of crime. We understand that poverty can lead some disabled people to do all sorts of things, but selling one’s rights to the highest bidder will not permanently solve their problems. Needless to say, poverty can never be justification for abetting or committing crime. Otherwise the prisons would be empty because many of those behind bars today had reasons for committing crime, but that cannot save them from the arm of the law. We also note that some church organisations have been importing vehicles and other items under the guise of helping disabled and vulnerable people who do not actually benefit from the goods. Although some church organisations are fulfilling their mandate of helping the poor and vulnerable people in society, some of them just use the plight of the disabled and vulnerable people to lobby for funding from donors abroad which they use to their own benefit. Vulnerable people deserve respect because they did not choose to be disabled or indeed be poor such that anyone can take advantage of them. We urge law enforcement agencies to investigate the illegal act of selling identity cards among disabled people and conmen who have been defrauding Government. We commend efforts by ZRA to engage the Ministry of Community Development and some organisations representing people with disabilities over the matter. The Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities and the Zambia Federation of Disability Organisations should sensitise their members against selling their identity cards to unscrupulous people. Those fraudsters who buy the IDs make a lot of money by avoiding paying tax while the disabled people remain poor after spending small amounts of money they are given. One thing people living with disabilities need to understand is the saying that “Disability is not inability”. There are more decent and sustainable ways through which they can earn a living.