By Nation Reporter
THE action taken by the Zambia Revenue Authority and law enforcement agencies against The Post newspaper is not only made in bad faith but is also politically motivated, says the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ).
And MISA Zambia has called for the unconditional release of The Post newspaper owner Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta and The Post deputy managing editor Joseph Mwenda who were arrested yesterday.
In a statement yesterday, LAZ president Linda Kasonde said that LAZ was appalled by the excessive action taken by ZRA and the Zambia Police Service in closing The Post newspaper offices on 21st June, 2016.
“LAZ has been monitoring the legal proceedings in which The Post newspaper is challenging the tax assessments made by the Zambia Revenue Authority with some concern; particularly in the face of allegations by The Post that the law has been applied discriminatorily,” Ms. Kasonde said.
She said LAZ was further alarmed by the brutal manner in which the police service arrested and beat up Mr M’membe, his wife Mutinta and Mr Mwenda following an attempt to enforce a legally binding order by the Revenue Appeals Tribunal dated 27th June, 2016 ordering the release of the items that were seized from The Post by ZRA on 21st June, 2016.
“It has also come to LAZ’s attention that the police manhandled their (Post) lawyers Mr. Nchima Nchito, SC, and Mr. Chisuwo Hamwela who were present to represent The Post’s interests,” she said.
Ms. Kasonde added that this was not the first time that a public authority had ignored a court order and that LAZ was concerned that the rule of law in the country was under severe threat.
And MISA Zambia chairperson Helen Mwale appealed to President Edgar Lungu to intervene in the matter if he really believed in the freedom of the press and democracy.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police, Kakoma Kanganja and the Police command to immediately and unconditionally release Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta and The Post deputy managing editor, Joseph Mwenda,” she said.
Ms. Mwale said it was saddening to note that in a country that bragged of democracy, law enforcers were used to break the law and disobey court orders.
She said it was clear that the matter was worsening by the day because of the refusal by the ZRA and other institutions to treat The Post newspaper fairly like they would treat any other tax payer or media house in Zambia.