The Malawi Chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) has described Friday’s closure of Times Group offices as an attempt by government to silence the media house.
The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) closed offices of Times Group, publishers of Daily Times and Malawi News and owners of Times Radio and Times TV, over unpaid taxes.
But in a statement released on Friday and signed by MISA Malawi Chairperson Thom Khanje, the media body stated that the closure of Times Group is ill-timed though they do not condone default on taxes.
According to the statement, MISA Malawi believes the closure is just a way by government of trying to stop the media house from further publishing on the maizegate scandal.
“We do not condone default taxes, but we strongly believe that the closure of Times group is ill-timed and can be easily construed as an attempt by government to stop the media house from further publication of ‘maizegate’ stories specifically and silence critical voices generally,” it stated.
The statement said the closure is coming barely weeks after the Agricultural Development and Marketing Cooperation (ADMARC) sought an injunction restraining the media house from publishing stories involving the maizegate scandal.
MISA Malawi also expressed worry that the closure of Times group by MRA will deny Malawians access to relevant information and is likely to tarnish the image of President Peter Mutharika’s regime.
The media body has argued that the best move for MRA was to engage Times Group and resolve the matter in an amicable manner.
Meanwhile, Times Group has obtained an injunction restraining MRA from seizing its property and closing its offices.