MRA shut down Malawi media giant Times: Turn off ‘Hot current’ truth telling show on Times TV

The Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) on Friday shut down Malawi media giant Times Group , demanding K675 million in unpaid taxes but the  publishers of Daily Times newspaper accused the authorities of trying to silence it.

Times Group Editor-In-Chief, Kasakula: Accuses the Mutharika government of attacking press freedom as Times newspaper, TV and radio are closed

Times Group staff out of offices

The outstanding  bill is on 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.

” It is true that MRA has sealed our offices . Yesterday they brought a claim that we owe them tax but before we reconcile it, they came this morning to seal our offices. They have taken some of our cars and all our staff are out of the newsroom and offices,” Editor-In-Chief of Times Group, George Kasakula told Nyasa Times in an interview through Skype.

Tax officials told Nyasa Times that  the ” distraint action” is taken for failure to settle a tax liability amounting to MK 675, 969, 316.75 comprising K504, 962,332.87 as taxes due and K171, 006,983.89 as penalties and interests

MRA spokesman Steven Kapoloma said the tax-body has  sealed the offices of  the news organisation and seized vehicles belonging to the company in order to force the company to remit the unpaid taxes.

He said the Taxation Act, Section 107 (3) (a) authorizes the collection of taxes by distraint on all properties or rights to property of a taxpayer

“The distraint action relates to recent tax liabilities uncovered through a comprehensive audit. The Company has a history of non-compliance since 2009 and has always sought court injunctions to frustrate efforts by MRA to collect the taxes due,” said Kapoloma.

But Kasakula fears there is a media clamp down especially on Times titles such as Malawi News , Sunday Times and Daily Times newspapers  which are fiercely critical of the government of President Peter Mutharika.

”MRA is being used by government. This is an attempt by Peter Mutharika government to clamp down a company that employs over 300 people and being a watchdog of the society,” said Kasakula.

Times Group which also operates a television Times TV and Times radio  has its roots from Malawi first President the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his family.

Hot current

Government officials are said to be running scared on a television talk show ‘Hot Current’ on Times TV which is gaining popularity in Malawi as following the ‘truth telling’ discussion which is hosted by marverick broadcaster Brian Banda.

The program which is featuring Kasakula is showing brave and substantive journalistic endeavours (often at great personal risk) and discussing matters of current which are hitting headlines, taking government into task on accountability and corruption.

Kasakula is also attracting wrath of those wielding power recklessly, even criminally, with complete impunity and unaccountability as he is putting them on spot with his no holds barred critique.

In the recent program which apart from being on Times TV, it was also aired on Times Radio and shared on YouTube, Kasakula weighed on the maize procurement saga that has hit Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) and Ministry of Agriculture.

Kasakura , who is also columnist in Malawi News, accused President Mutharika of failing to make “tough decisions” as the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament and civil society organisations want Admarc ceo Foster Mulumbe and Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister George Chaponda to be removed from their positions to pave the way for investigations into the matter.

“President Mutharika cannot take tough decisions. Changing cabinet or firing minister of information for poor communication is not tough decision. This was the time [for Mutharika] to show that I am my own man.This needed a decision from a President,” said Kasakura.

And host Brian Banda remarked in agreement: “This is the time when a man called Peter Mutharika should rise up.”

Kasakula also accused Mutharika and his administration of “trying to kill” by creating food shortage with the maizegate scandal.

“We have a government that let us down. Mutharika and DPP want to kill Malawians through hunger ,” said Kasakula.

He urged Malawians not to let mediocrity take charge.

“We need to demand better form our government, this is our government. They rule on our trust. Malawians lets wake up and demand better from our government,” Kasakura said.

Malawi government spokesman Nicholous Dausi said discussions on ‘Hot Current’ Times TV program are “unnecessary irritation”.

“I choose to ignore listening to their gurgling,” said Dausi who was scheduled to be on Times TV Exclusive interview on Saturday.

He said Kasakura seemed almost emotional in his contributions.

But Times are proving that they aren’t the kind of journalists that go around repeating what the government , they are demonstrating the kind of journalists that believe the way you hold power accountable is by reporting what the truth actually is.

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Mavizi Mtondo
Guest

Dziko lili mmanja mwa agalu.okuba.chaponda mutharika mlumbe onsewa akudziwapo za chimanga chogulidwa mwa ukatangale.panyero panu

Pension Nenereko
Guest
The works of new Chief Secretary who once worked as Commissioner at MRA visible. MRA please close all the companies that have tax issues. Muone kuti muba chani MBAVA inu. There are many of them there including those owned by who have closed Times Group. A Dausi now is a legal person interpreting the constitution ha ha ha! Nanga A Mphepo ndani? This country is in the hands of thieves who run away from Malawi claiming persecution by Kamuzu yet they were just thieves and evil. Surprisingly, some of them claim they were working for the UN. Munabwera and mukulamulira… Read more »
Mphats Thole
Guest
As far as Times Group talks about evils of other organisations including the government please remember that the other finger points at you. Amene sanalakwepo ndiye azigenda mzake. I don’t feel good to see what is happening in Malawi especially when the government and its few people benefit out of the poor but non-taxes remittance is a serious sin even more than what you talk about. But MRA is not doing politics. It wants to do justice and support Malawians. I pay a lot of money to the government why not a big company like Times Group? Tamamvaniko manyazi pa… Read more »
Zude
Guest

From 2011 where was MRA??Much as the times group are wrong for failing to remmit taxes the period in question raises alot of eyebrows.in short MRA is being used by these fools to silence Brian Banda and company.amwenye ambirimbiri they do evade tax and MRA is doing nothing about it.When you guys from times gets back to business all we malawians can ask from you is more fire!!!!Zifenso ndi cardiac arrest mbala zimenezi.mxiiiiii!!

Vitals Kiosk
Guest

Lero lomwe ndinena ndinu…. I wonder what Goerge Kasakula and Madalitso Mussa will write about Times Group not paying tax.

Ndale OR No ndale, finally you have been embarrased.. Get a life

santana
Guest

Brian Banda kutokota konse kuja mukuyendera ma million a ngongole?

john banda
Guest

whatever -you deduct tax and not pay and i wonder if pension is being paid.

Stear Smith Time
Guest

If this is true,then shame to Times Group powasiira a Kasakula kuyankhula zimenezi because the person knows nothing about tax and its implications.There is totally no politics here.The way forward is to pay now than later to avoid being arrested.

Kadya Mpakeni
Guest
In Chichewa (and I’m very certain George Kasakula, being a Chewa himself from Kasungu, should know better) they say: “Ukapanda manu usamaswe phale”. I like Times Group so much, in particular their two TV Talk Shows – Times Exclusive & Hot Current. However, I’ve always wondered what’s been going in the heads of the Group’s hierarchy, particularly Leonard Chikadya, being the Group’s CEO, when they listen to the manner in which their Kasakula & Brian Banda emotionally and subjectively blast the government on its short-comings, considering the Group’s sins hidden in their closets. Didn’t it occur to Chikadya that someday… Read more »
Mtanga Laston
Guest

Apa palibe nkhani yozuzula boma,Lipilani ngati sazatsegula maofesi anuwo.Apa palibe ndale.Boma lili ndi tvm, ndi mbc radios akafuna kusutsa zimene mwalemba amapita komweko.

wpDiscuz

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