By Nation Reporter
THE Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) should immediately reconsider its decision to close down The Post newspaper, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chairperson Ms. Hellen Mwale has said.
She charged that the move to close The Post newspaper was clearly politically motivated because Revenue House had not moved on other companies that owed bigger sums of money.
She said this yesterday in a statement after visiting The Post newspaper offices.
“The Post had indicated its willingness to comply and had even paid the principle sum which, therefore, brings into question the genuineness of the ZRA action in addition to their refusal to recognise a lawfully obtained court injunction,” Ms. Mwale said.
She also called on all media practitioners to put aside all differences and stand together to protect the freedom of the press which was under threat and reiterated The Post’s role in promoting democracy and offering a platform to dissenting views.
“There is need to look at the bigger picture and the potential threat not only on The Post but on each and every one of us and the fundamental freedom we so dearly enjoy,” Ms. Mwale said.
A check at The Post offices revealed that the premises remained closed with Police keeping guard while several employees and other sympathisers were found outside the Bwinjimfumu offices in high spirits.
And the Human Rights Commission (HRC) advised that there should be further room for negotiations to find an amicable solution to meeting the tax obligation of The Post newspapers without necessarily closing it.
In a statement availed to the Daily Nation, HRC Chief of Information, Education and Training Mweelwa Muleya advised that there was need to use negotiations, mediation and conciliation methods rather than exclusively using a legalistic approach in the matter.
“The Human Rights Commission is appealing to the State to reconsider the decision to close down The Post newspapers and save hundreds of workers into unemployment, thereby adversely affecting the welfare of their families,” he said.
Mr. Muleya said the Commission appreciated the fact that ZRA exhausted the legal process leading to their action to close The Post newspapers and that it was also a matter of human rights law that the State was entitled to enforce such laws as it deemed necessary to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions.
“It would be a sad chapter in the development of Zambia’s democracy if a drastic action was taken to close The Post newspapers,” he said.
Mr. Muleya added that it was hoped that there would be high level interventions in the matter aimed at giving The Post newspapers an opportunity to meet its tax obligation while continuing operating.
He said the Commission believed that allowing The Post newspapers to operate while ensuring that it meets its tax obligations would be in the best national interest.
Mr Muleya said The Post newspapers was also one of the institutions of good governance involved in promoting and protecting fundamental human rights and freedoms in Zambia.
“It has over the past 25 years played a pivotal role in safeguarding and consolidating democracy and development,” he said.