In a brief statement released on Sunday by the ZRA Communications team, the authority said all taxpayers should comply with the tax laws.
“The ZRA wishes to assure the public that it operates independently, without political interference or any form of bias at any level,” it said.
It added, “Therefore, all taxpayers should comply with the Tax Laws and pay their taxes on time to avoid penalties, interest, enforcement action and prosecution.”
The Authority on Friday pounced on the Post Newspapers and issued a warrant of distress seeking to collect around K 16,000 in unpaid taxes.
ZRA officers, accompanied by armed police officers, arrived at the Lusaka offices of Post Newspapers along Bwinjimfumu around 08 Hours to serve a warrant demanding immediate payment of alleged late payment penalties and interest in a tax case against the company that arose in September 2014, when a similar raid was conducted.
The ZRA also delivered a demand notice for payment of allegedly unpaid VAT payments and unpaid payroll taxes.
The move was heavily criticised by the Post Newspaper who described it as an attempt to close down the newspaper by President Edgar Lungu’s administration.
Post General Manager for Finance Rowena Zulu said in the statement that the ZRA was “out to fix us” and claimed that authorities tipped off other media about the raid in advance saying “There is no doubt politics is at play in this matter.”
The development was also condemned by the International Press Institute who expressed concern over the raid saying “We are extremely concerned by the ZRA’s action, particularly coming on the heels of incidents in recent months that have ratcheted up pressure against The Post.
IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis said, “Given the nature of the claims and the amounts sought, the case against The Post needs to be transparent and to be given time to work its way through the legal process.
Mr Ellis said a failure to afford both would have a chilling effect on media freedom in Zambia.
‘The raid comes at a time of increasing pressure directed towards The Post amid Zambia’s polarised political climate. Last month, a bullet penetrated the paper’s newsroom, but fortunately did not injure anyone.’
In July, criminal charges were brought against Post Editor-in-Chief Fred M’membe for allegedly disclosing classified information in an investigative piece the Post published about corruption in the ruling PF party.