After being irritated with reports of the maize scam, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had to ride on Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to seal Times Group offices on allegations that the media house has failed to pay income tax.
According to MRA, the media house has failed to settle its tax liability that accumulated to K675, 989,316.75, taxes amounting to K504, 962,332.87 and penalties that have gone together with interest amounting to K171, 006,983.89.
MRA claims that Times Group has been shunning paying tax since January 2011 to March 2016 a statement that is contrary to Times Group Editor in Chief George Kasakula’s confession that the media house has been paying its revenues monthly.
Kasakula added that MRA failed to negotiate with Times Group on the amount given as tax to be paid as the media house argued that it has been paying tax to government.
“MRA has seized our offices over taxes and yet we have been paying taxes every month. It is impunity and lawlessness on the part of the government. Just imagine, they came with a notice yesterday and instead of offering us a chance for negotiations as they do in such cases — as you know that sometimes their figures can be wrong and you negotiate — they came 12 hours later to seize our property,” Kasakula was quoted by the company’s website on Friday.
How Times fell in the shoes of ruling DPP Government
In December last year Times Group carried a story that revealed that Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda who is also DPP’s top official at the national level and Admarc Chief Executive Officer Foster Mulumbe had dubious transaction with a Zambian private company Kaloswe in which billions of money has been lost.
The reports pushed Mulumbe to obtain a court order that stopped Times Group from carrying any article on maize scandal.
Reacting on the development, some Civil Society Organization’s (CSO’s) and Malawi Law Society (MLS) raised eyebrows arguing that the injunction was meant to block freedom of press and people’s right to information.
Times Group also carried a number of articles that featured local analysts and experts in pushing President Peter Mutharika to fire Chaponda to pave way for investigations on the matter by the Commission of Inquiry that he appointed.
Later, DPP described the reports to be “lies” through a statement that was signed by its acting Secretary General Francis Mphepo.
“We understand that Admarc has obtained an injuction against Daily Times not to continue Publishing these lies, These people think they are tarnishing the image of DPP government and the state president,” reads part of the statement.
Meanwhile, Times Group has stopped all operations, including live broadcasts on Times Radio and Times Television, and production work on Malawi News which comes out on Saturday.
Recorded programmes were being beamed on Times Television while music is just playing on Times Radio.