January 13, 2017 by Staff Reporter
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Malawi) Chairperson Thom Khanje has asked President Professor Peter Mutharika to re-open Times Group offices.
Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and heavily armed Police Officers on Friday seized Times Group property and closed offices at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre for failing to pay tax amounting to MK 2 Billion.
Reacting to the news MISA-Malawi Chairperson Khanje said, “MISA Malawi would, therefore, like to appeal to MRA and President Mutharika to re-open Times Group offices and allow for a progressive means of resolving the tax issues.
“Such a move will help to clear the impression that government has started taking systematic steps to suffocate the media, thereby strangling our young democracy in the process,” said Khanje in a statement.
He added that the move by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to close Times Group Offices it the way of silencing the media house from publishing Maize-gate stories.
” we strongly believe that the closure of Times Group is ill-timed and can easily be construed as an attempt by government to stop the media house from further publication of the ‘maize gate’ stories specifically and silence critical voices generally.,” said Thom Khanje.
Times Group Editor-in-Chief George Kasakula described the move as politically motivated. He also vowed to continue exposing corruption in the country.
“MRA has seized our offices over taxes and yet we have been paying taxes every month. It is impunity and lawlessness on the part of the government. Just imagine, they came with a notice yesterday and, instead of offering us a chance for negotiations as they do in such cases — as you know that sometimes their figures can be wrong and you negotiate — they came 12 hours later to seize our property,” Kasakula said.
The closure of Times Group comes less than a week after the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) sought an injunction restraining the media outlet from publishing stories on the ‘maize gate.’
Times Group which also operates a television known as Times TV and Times radio has its roots from Malawi first President the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda and his family