Post loses another ZRA debt case

ANOTHER Post Newspaper attempt to derail the mandate of the Zambia Revenue Authority to collect taxes from them has failed in the Lusaka High Court when Justice Eddie Sikazwe threw out the application to stop the closure and seizure of its offices, printing plant and trucks in an effort to recover over K53 million owed in unpaid taxes.

This was after Mr Justice Sikazwe said there was no longer any appeal pending before the Supreme Court which could have allowed for the continued stay of the High Court order for ZRA to levy distress on The Post newspaper.

“It is important to note first of all that this court issued the order on the 11th December, 2015, for the sole purpose of maintaining the status quo in light of Judge (Mwiinde) Siavwapwa’s ruling of 10th November, 2015, but also due to the fact that the applicant (Post) filed into court a certificate of urgency for leave to commence contempt proceedings against the respondent (ZRA) and to stay the order interpreting the ruling of 10th November, 2015, which application was not considered by this court.

“Following the judgment of the Supreme Court on the 13th June 2016, reversing and setting aside, the ruling of 10th November, 2015, this court is of the view that the order of 11th December, 2015, automatically falls away,” he said.

This was in a matter in which The Post Newspapers appealed against a judgment that allowed ZRA to enforce an order for immediate payment of the money owed in unpaid taxes after the Commissioner General rejected a proposal to settle it in instalments.

Mr Justice Sikazwe said going by the ruling delivered by Mr Justice Siavwapwa on the 30th October, 2015, to stay the execution of the judgment, there was no pending appeal before the Supreme Court that could serve a reason for the stay.

Further, he said the application was for leave to commence contempt proceedings against ZRA on allegations that demands for immediate settlement of the debt was a deliberate attempt to cripple the newspaper’s business line, when there was a stay.

“The gist of the applicant’s application is for this court to order the respondent, whether by themselves or their agents or servants or otherwise, to comply with the order of this court dated 11th December, 2015, and for the respondent to hand over the applicant’s plant and head office.

“On 13th June, 2016, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment reversing and setting aside Mr Justice Siavwapwa’s ruling of 10th November, 2015,” he said.

Mr Justice Sikazwe explained that the earlier order was issued as the Vacation Judge-General list for the period between 11th December, 2015 – 9th January, 2016 in order to maintain the status quo in light of the ruling handed down by the learned Mr Justice Siavwapwa on 10th November, 2015.

In response to the application, ZRA had submitted that the matter should be determined on whether it was properly before High Court, and especially that the application did not have a penal notice.

They charged that even the affidavit filed in support of the application did not have a date and that it was brought before court under a wrong provision of the law.

Mr Justice Sikazwe, therefore, ruled that he did not have necessary jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter and dismissed the application but allowed for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in 14 days.