Times should not have been closed. Especially not now when it has been busy unravelling the corrupt syndicate that is being presided over by the anointed Peter Mutharika successor, George Chaponda.
The closure of Times, in all honesty, has come at a wrong time and it smacks of a well calculated political move that aims at gagging the media.
Of course gagging the media it looks like but on a deeper sober level, it is more than gagging the media that has happened at Times Group Limited.
When my friend came this morning in my office and screamed that government has started gagging the media and the closure of Times was a perfect example, I asked him a simple question:
Was Times really paying the taxes?
Eventually the answer was no. Times has not been paying taxes. It has been evading them. In a way, the institution was stealing from the public by deferring payments. If you are really unkind, Times would be placed in the same category as the Mphwiyos of this world, the Chapondas. In brief, it is like the same people it has been urging us to crucify. It is a perfect irony.
Someone who thinks that the state should up its socks in service delivery should have been in the forefront of paying the taxes for the service delivery. Not with Times. For them they were just expecting that government will keep taxing my small consultancy while they go scot free. Yet tomorrow they would be at the neck of government for electricity failures, poor education standards, bad infrastructure. With which money did they expect government to fund such projects?
The statement from MRA reads that Times has been in tax evasion since 2011. Forgive my ignorance but how did they survive all these years?
To me, that survival looks like a case of corruption and patronage. How does one survive for six years plus without really coming upfront with the taxes? I beg this case be properly investigated. While it is being investigated, I will also move the Courts to have the institution suspended from performing any duties. The same way the CSOs have done with Chaponda. It only sounds fair.
It is sad really that Times has been closed down while it was atop a hot scandal that has the propensity of shaping our political future but to hide behind Mutharika and the DPP being anti-media freedom is really overstretching the argument.
I think on this issue the starting point should be: was Times paying its taxes?
If the answer is yes then surely we should stone the DPP but if the answer is no, then spare me the nonsense. Pay the taxes first. We should all take a part in contributing to the development of this country. Not just by talking but contributing financially, through taxes.