Malawi’s flagship newspaper Nation Publications Limited has defiantly continue publishing despite having the newsroom and other operation offices locked up in Blantyre by Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) accusing it of failing to pay taxes.
The publication has been operating on a makeshift newsroom and was breaking no law by continuing to be in circulation with its weekend title, The Weekend Nation and Nation of Sunday hitting the streets.
Observers argue that the forced closure of The Nation offices in Blantyre was done to silence the paper which is critical of the government and viewed as professional and objective.
The observers further state that the government was using unpaid taxes as a smokescreen to silence an independent newspaper that was exposing their criminality.
Tax officials have not commented on the matter, but a government spokesman said the MRA were only trying to recoup unpaid taxes.
Malawian government spokesman Mark Botomani denied assertions that the regime is on a media clamp down.
In their weekend title, the paper revealed that the Roads Authority (RA) has been awarding contracts to two firms – Rommex and the Engineers Battalion of the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) – that lack requisite certifications.
The paper also reported that the phased construction of the Mwanza-Neno and the Ntcheu-Tsangano-Neno-Mwanza roads, could result in duplication of expenditure, quoting Neno-based politician and social accountability activist Leonard Phinda that the new 140-km Ntcheu-TsanganoNeno-Mwanza Road project, launched earlier this year by President Peter Mutharika, will also cover the 37 kilometres of the Mwanza–Neno Road, there is high likelihood of creating room for duplicating expenditure on the roads.
And in the columns section, there has been stinging criticism on the countrys leadership.
One columnist, Backbencher argued that the violence that ensued from the May 21 presidential election has changed the narrative on Malawi within the donor community, citing the UN human rights body statement from its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, saying it was “very concerned” by lack of meaningful dialogue to address the mounting tension and violent protests in Malawi.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), which has seen similar cases elsewhere in Africa degenerating into civil strife, warns that if our case is left unattended, “there is a serious risk the situation will spiral out of control.”
Reads the column in part: “The demonstrations aren’t about [Lazarus] Chakwera or [Saulos] Chilima. People want their votes to count. They want to have a listening and caring government that serves all Malawians equally. Many times in past people’s favourite candidates have lost but we’ve never witnessed so much anger and despondency has been the case this year. The people are simply fed up!”
The influential columnist further state that there is no better way than President Mutharika sitting together with Chakwera, Chilima and other contestants in the presidential race in an indaba to thrash out issues then produce a joint communiqué clearly stating their commitment to peace, respect for the rule of law and urging their warring supporters to bury the hatchet and unite as one nation, Malawi.
“These politicians should learn to share the podium at State functions and recognise each other’s role in a multiparty system of government,” states the column.
But in all this, Backbencher argued that Mutharika, as Head of State and Government, should take the lead and not sit on the terraces.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :