Zambia fires int’l media body’s remarks over closure of independent newspaper

The Zambian government on Monday dismissed a report by the International Press Institute (IPI) that it instigated the closure of the country's leading private newspaper in order to stifle criticism during the campaigns for this week's general elections.


The IPI has released a report on the closure of the Post Newspaper following its mission to Zambia last month.

The report finds that the ongoing seizure of the newspaper’s offices by the country’s tax authorities as well as continuing attempts to hinder its ability to continue publishing was a politically motivated attempt by the current administration to silence persistent criticism in order to hold on to power.

Steven Ellis, IPI’s director of advocacy and communications said the closure was not about collecting taxes and that it could have a negative impact on democracy in the southern African nation.

But Chief Government Spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili has dismissed the report, saying it was flawed and recklessly injured the government’s efforts to further democracy in the country.

According to him, the IPI like any other media advocacy institution will rarely pass a guilty verdict on a media house, adding that it will always seek to find an excuse no matter how farfetched it might appear to defend media houses.

“This principle negates the fact that media houses are run by human beings capable of wrong like any other human being. This principle has blinded some media rights bodies so intensely they can hardly see anything wrong in a journalist,” he added.

The government spokesperson said the newspaper’s case has always been with revenue authorities and that the government has nothing to do with the matter.

The newspaper was closed in June by the Zambia Revenue Authority over unpaid taxes.

But the revenue agency has defied an order by Zambia’s Tax Appeals Tribunal to turn the seized premises to the newspaper and allow it to resume printing.

The newspaper has still continued being published in secret, a move that has riled ruling party supporters who have started venting their anger on vendors found selling the newspaper on the streets.

A number of newspaper vendors found with the newspaper in Lusaka, the country’s capital, have been beaten by President Lungu’s supporters. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/News Ghana

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