GOVERNMENT has been challenged to investigate the source of the K26 million the Post Newspaper used to clear its outstanding Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) when the newspaper had failed to settle the same amount in the last three years.
The Authentic Advocacy for Justice and Democracy organization has alleged that the Post newspaper could have sourced part of the money from ‘‘enemies of the State’’ and it was important for Government to check where the K26 million came from.
AAJD chief executive officer John Mulenga said there had been ‘‘speculations, assertions and innuendoes’’ that the Post Newspaper was in league with some socialist countries that were pushing for regime change in Zambia and that the said countries were heavily financing the newspaper for the cause.
Mr Mulenga said the Post and its owners had committed a criminal offence by refusing to honour their tax obligations to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) which has accumulated to K17 million, including penalties and interests and should be prosecuted.
Mr Mulenga said it was the duty of every Zambian and corporate entity to pay tax and that the Post Newspaper, which had over the years been pontificating righteousness, should have been the first institution to respect the country’s tax laws instead of arrogantly accusing President Edgar Lungu of attempting to close them down.
Mr Mulenga said the Post should stop playing victim when it was clear they had breached tax laws by arrogantly refusing or deliberately ignoring to settle the taxes they had accumulated by either evading tax or refusing to own up.
He told the Daily Nation yesterday that it was criminal for the Post to have refused to pay ZRA tax and appealed to the tax authority to refuse to be intimidated by the newspaper in its scheme to go scot-free.
Mr Mulenga said the Post had committed a criminal offence and should therefore be punished in the same manner other individuals and companies have been dealt with in some parts of the country.
He said the Post should not blame the Patriotic Front (PF) Government and President Lungu for its insolvency status because the Head of State was not there when the newspaper neglected to honour its tax obligations during the time it enjoyed good relationship with late presidents Levy Mwanawasa and Michael Sata.
“The Post, like any other individual or institution, is not above the law to refuse to pay tax. ZRA must move to recover the money which has accumulated to K17 million and that should not be blamed on President Lungu or the PF as a government.
‘‘We still remember the Zambian Airways saga where the Post was involved and the airline went down after accumulating huge debts in unpaid loans and taxes.
‘‘Now the newspaper is refusing to pay taxes and this is criminal and it must be prosecuted,” Mr Mulenga said.
And Mr Mulenga said it was shocking that there were Zambians who were supporting the position of the Post to avoid paying tax, stating that such citizens were condoning illegalities and should be treated with contempt.
Mr Mulenga said it was morally and politically unacceptable to any Zambian to promote an economic wrong because such acts were negating the infrastructure development Government was currently undertaking.
He said the Post was playing victim to attract public sympathy but warned that the newspaper should never be treated with special attention because it had shown impunity and lack of respect for the country’s laws and leadership.