High Court in Blantyre on Tuesday refused an application by Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to lift an injunction which was granted to media giant Times Group restraining the tax collecting body from shutting it down.
Judge James Chigona said he could not vacate the injunction and has allowed the matter to go for full judicial review.
The court had granted the injunction to Times after MRA officials seized records and vehicles of the media group at Ginnery corner in Blantyte and sealed the offices.
MRA head of corporate affairs Steve Kapoloma said Times was sealed for failure to settle a tax liability amounting to K675 969 316.75.
“The amount comprises of K504 962 332.87 as taxes due and K171 006 983.89 as penalties and interests. The tax liability relates to non-payment for Value Added Tax, Corporate Tax, Fringe Benefit Tax, Withholding Tax, Pay As You Earn for specified periods between January 2011 to March 2016,” reads the statement in part.
But the news organisation through its lawyer Patrick Mpaka argue that the MRA action is not acting in good faith.
Times Group editor-in- chief George Kasakura suspects the move is politically motivated, saying: “Times has been remitting its taxes every month”.
Some media houses including Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Nation Publications owe MRA tax liability, according to sources at the tax body.
But MRA action against Times Media Group comes fast on the heels of publications of articles on maize involving suspended Admarc chief executive officer Foster Mulumbe and Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda.
Following the publications, Admarc on December 29 2016 served Times Group with an injunction restraining the media group from publishing anything related to the maize transaction. The injunction was vacated.
The revelations in the media have made civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country to apply to court for the suspension of Chaponda to allow for smooth investigations into the deal which was granted by High Court.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :