Times Group closure issue gets into Malawi parliament as MP urges govt to stop harassing private media

A member of parliament for Lilongwe city south east  Ulemu Msungana on Tuesday took the government to task over its decision to close down Times Media Group over tax evasion allegations.

Msungama: Closing of Times Groups is politically motivated

Times Group, which has been critical of the government and investigated controversial maize contracts, is the biggest and oldest media organization in Malawi. It publishes a newspaper, The Times, alongside a radio and TV network.

Msungama said it was hypocricy to close down a private and independent media organisation while bailing out biased state run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.

“I am concerned because the media plays a huge role in the dissemination of information,” he said.

He told the government to stop going after people, including the media, who blow the whistle on corruption.

But Minister of  Information and Communication Technology Nicholas Dausi said media houses should learn to remit tax to the Malawi Revenue Authority.

He said Times owes MRA K2.50 billion in tax arrears, saying K600 million is for pay as you earn tax arrears.

Dausi told the MPs to encourage people including the media pay tax on time.

But International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, journalists and media executives for media freedom pointed out that government is using public-tax collector “to stifle an independent voice and silence a noted critical voice in the country”.

Times Media Group ruffled the feathers of government with publications of articles on maize involving former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development George Chaponda.

The revelations in the media led civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country to exert pressure on government and demands Chaponda to step down to allow for smooth investigations into the deal. He was prosecuted and acquitted.

However,CSOs claimed the State tactically presented a weaker case and pressed Anti Corruption Bureau to appeal the case.

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Nalingula
Guest
Nalingula

Kodi Inuyo ma Cadet mumatolipira misonkho?Tatoyelekezani kulengeza kuti mwatuluka DPP tione ngati MRA siyikuyenderani.Times mumamva nayo kuwawa tikudziwa.

gwenenthe mwale
Guest
gwenenthe mwale

should we say that MBC is also clear on TAXES. please the writer find out for the public consumption also please

Ken
Guest
Ken

The issue is not about MBC or Zodiak nor anybody here but Times Group. Just tell us if Times is right to eat our taxes.

Absolute in Doubt
Guest
Absolute in Doubt

So you’re okay with the suppression of freedom of speech? Okay, that’s your take on being a modern day slave in your own country.

Ndadabwa
Guest

a dausi ndi achitsiru ofikapo

Spinoza
Guest

Mukulephela dala kulipila misonkho dala mukagwidwa muziti ndi ndale, za zii!!! Kuli achina zodiak bwanji nawo sanaasekele. Mukalipile misonkho iyaaa kuba eti!!!!!!

Peter
Guest
Peter

Dausi is corrupt hence cant see anything wrong with the closure of Times based on politics

Chirwali
Guest
Chirwali

So you see nothing wrong with companies not paying tax. Is Times Group exempted from paying taxes? Tell me what Times Group would say had it been this was Mulli Brother not remitting tax.

Absolute in Doubt
Guest
Absolute in Doubt

Tax evasion is wrong no matter how you look at it, but closing down a media house that’s critical of you and then bailing out one that spews propaganda all the damn time is not my idea of democracy. Even if Times Group had truly been evading tax, MRA is also wrong and must be brought to court on how a company has evaded tax so much that it has reached in the billions of kwachas.

Tenzi Mzungu
Guest
Tenzi Mzungu

Totally agree with you. Our MPs leave a lot to be desired instead of proposing laws which should solidify our democracy they take pride in criticizing the government on almost everything. A good example is MBC. For MBC to be independent a law should be enacted. Without the law in place ruling party can abuse it anyhow. JB repealed unpopular laws forgetting to liberate MBC yet nobody commented thinking that DPP will never rule again. For times there is a maxim which says he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Times is not clean therefore they should… Read more »

lilian
Guest
lilian

Times should just pay the tax arrears without using parliament to support its illegal activities. Some of the Tax was PAYE and this money was deducted from employees and should be paid while the other part was collected from people as VAT and should also be paid. I am told Times does not remit money to old mutual and some employees that retired are failing to get their money because of such non payment. The issue of bringing MBC into the argument is useless because one does not steal because a friend stole. Paying tax is just a matter of… Read more »

Born mcp
Guest

Blaming Government on everything. That’s nosense and cheap politics. If this was done to Toyota Malawi, you idiots would say nothing.
My question is are they really owing taxes? If the answer is yes then stop talking nosense. If not then blame the Government.
Some members of parliament I wonder their level of Education. Even a standard one can reason well. Stop you idiots the issue is in court.

Lez Phiri
Guest
Lez Phiri

Is the Mp. Suggesting that time media group should not pay tax cos the media house ? “

Abbas
Guest
Abbas

Ask him. I also wonder why only Times Group loves to be notorious in tax compliance but speak and write against others like angels even when it’s only a rumour. Times talks of a failed Malawi economy yet it is one of those sabotaging the economy to collapse by eating government money. Nooooo! Times Group must not mix up tax evasion and media stifling issues. Otherwise other media houses like Zodiak and The Nation are also critical of government but they have no issues with MRA. Let MRA do its job without this crap pleases.

My Malawi - My view
Guest
My Malawi - My view

The issue is in court. Let use leave the process to take its course. For parliamentarians, I think the best way to spend your time, if you want to make a lasting contribution on this issue, is to do your job – which is to review the laws and ensure they provide adequate protection for the media! #myview!

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