Zambia: ActionAid demands immediate release of Post newspaper bosses

Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) – ActionAid Zambia has demanded the immediate release from police detention of Post newspaper Managing Editor Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta and Post Editor Joseph Mwenda who were arrested early on Tuesday.

The trio were arrested and detained at Lusaka Central Police station after they gained entry to the Post newspaper Head Office in Lusaka which was closed last week by the Zambia Revenue Authority over tax arrears amounting to K53 Million (1US$ = K10).

The trio tried to gain entry to the office after a court granted the newspaper a stay on Monday that restrained Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) from seizing its property.

ActionAid on Tuesday demanded the release of the trio and asked that the charges levelled against them be dropped because this represented a threat to Zambia’s democracy, a curb to the freedom of expression and a gag on the media.

“As an institution that advocates for human rights, we are of the view that the selective enforcement of tax collection undermines the principles and values of a democratic state. ActionAid is therefore demanding the court’s decision be respected and upheld, and the individuals be released immediately,” ActionAid Zambia, Country Director Nalucha Nganga– Ziba, said.

“By not respecting the decision of the revenues tribunal, both the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and Zambia police suggest that they are not free from political influence,” Nganga-Ziba added.

ActionAid said it was concerned that the tax rules being applied to the Post Newspaper were different from the rules being applied to other companies, including prominent public media outlets.

“Although the ZRA has the mandate to enforce tax compliance, it is our view that the manner in which it has handled the Post issue is regrettable. Despite the existence of a payment plan, ZRA decided to shut down the company even as the matter was before courts of law. It is equally saddening that the police, charged with ensuring that the law is upheld, are acting in contravention of the court order.”

ActionAid called on the Zambian government to respect the rule of law and ensure the freedom of the press at this critical time as the country prepares to go to the polls on 11 August.
-0- PANA MM/MA 28June2016

28 june 2016 16:05:34

xhtml CSS