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Concern over closure of "The Post" newspaper in Zambia

Screenshot of postzambia.com

This statement was originally published on misa.org on 23 June 2016.

MISA Zambia is concerned with the closure of The Post newspaper by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), as the action is an assault to democracy and against media freedom.

On 21 June 2016, the Zambia Revenue Authority closed The Post Newspaper Limited, demanding that the company pay a total of K68 million (US$6.1 million) disputed tax arrears immediately.

Closing The Post will not punish the owners, but its readers, as the paper has immensely contributed to the maintenance of a pluralistic society in which different views – even those considered to be critical and dissenting – have been accorded space.

It must be stated that freedom of the media and freedom of expression are core principles of democracy where free, diverse and independent media constitute the cornerstone of a democratic society by facilitating free flow of information and principles of transparency and accountability.

While media institutions, like other entities, need to be up to date with their statutory obligations, it is expected that they are treated in a fair manner and accorded a chance to be heard where disputes are raised following due process.

It is also important to uphold the principle of non-discrimination in tax issues and it is expected that the same treatment given by the ZRA to The Post should be extended to other media outlets that are owing the authority.

There is evidence to suggest that The Post is not the only media house that has tax problems in Zambia, which clearly shows that the closure of The Post is a political move that is beyond tax issues, as alleged.

MISA Zambia therefore appeals to the government to stop harassing the newspaper, so that it continues with production. The move to close The Post will have an effect on the employees who have now been sent out of employment.

Helen Mwale
Chairperson: MISA Zambia

* See statement by Delegation of the European Union
* See statement by the United States Embassy in Zambia

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