The Government of the Republic of Zambia on June 21, 2016 closed down Post Newspapers Limited.
The Zambia Revenue Authority officers, under instructions from State House, arrived at Post Newspapers head office and printing press around 17:00hours in the company of armed police, demanding that the company pays a total of K68 million (US$6.1 million) disputed tax arrears immediately.
Post Newspapers general manager for finance Rowena Zulu then explained that the money ZRA was demanding had already been paid almost in total.
But a ZRA officer responded that they had not yet accessed the money and thus they could not withdraw the warrant of distress.
The lawyers from Nchito and Nchito then produced a court order restraining the officers from issuing a warrant of distress on Post Newspapers, but the officers disobeyed the order.
Instead, the ZRA officers chased all employees who were still working at the head office, before locking up the entrance.
At the printing plant, the ZRA officers also switched off the printing press, locked up the premises, leaving the heavily armed police manning the gates.
Post lawyer Nchima Nchito from Nchito and Nchito Advocates explained that the amount which the Post owed ZRA was much less than what the authority was claiming.
“What they are saying is that the matter that is in court, the matter that we have been paying money through court, they are claiming that on that amount, The Post still owes 15 million kwacha so they have come to execute on that part. On the other matter where they had made a demand of K101 million, and after discussion, they reduced it to K53 million, and then we made some other submissions objecting to their claim, they have also issued a warrant of distress,” Nchima said.
“They rejected our submissions at 17:00hrs today. So there are two matters now and those figures are wrong. The Post doesn’t owe K53 million or K15 million, it is much, much less.
He explained that ZRA had neglected to appeal an injunction granted by High Court judge Eddie Sikazwe.
“They appealed against the order that was issued by Judge Mwiinde Siavwapa, not the one that was issued by Judge Sikazwe. So that’s what we have been trying to convince them. We have showed them all that and we were waiting to hear from their legal counsel Diana, but she has kept quiet, she said let me think first. But meanwhile, the other ZRA guys who went to the printing plant just locked up the place with their own locks before we could conclude our discussions and went away. So thats where we are,” said Nchima.
Meanwhile, Post managing editor Joan Chirwa apologised to ZNBC reporters who were earlier harassed by Post security at the printing plant where they went to film the scuffle.
Speaking to journalists after police locked up The Post editorial office, Chirwa apologised to Brian Mwale and his colleague.
“I would like to sincerely apologise to ZNBC staff, we are aware that there was a bit of some scuffle at our printing press where some journalists from ZNBC were blocked by our security men. I think that was some misunderstanding because they thought you were from ZRA but they didnt know that they are journalists. We cannot block any journalist from covering what’s going on. So please take our apology for what happened at the printing press,” said Chirwa.
Source: Post Zambia