The Oasis Forum says it is not only appalled but also greatly saddened by events surrounding the recent closure of the Post Newspaper offices.
The Forum said the events at the Post surely borders on infringement of the freedom of the press and that of expression.
In a statement, the Forum said it strongly believe that the closure of The Post does not augur well with Zambia’s democratic dispensation given that Zambia will soon be holding its general elections on 11th August 2016 and the fact that the electorate need to make some informed decisions based on a wide array of information.
The Oasis Forum further observes that this incident and the questionable conduct of both the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) as well as the Zambia Police is yet another manifestation of a serious breakdown of the Rule of Law and widespread lawlessness in the country.
“Indeed, if a public authority can have the audacity of ignoring a validly issued and legally binding court order, then we cannot but wonder as to where this country is heading. Again, if the law enforcement agencies cannot be seen to fairly, equally, consistently, reasonably and professionally execute their mandate in view of protecting citizens, we wonder as to whom those who feel threatened should run to,” it said.
“Furthermore, if it is true that the ZRA were not collecting the huge and much publicized taxes from the Post Newspaper since 2009, then heads must roll in their rank and file due to their appalling incompetence and neglect.”
“In addition, the Oasis Forum also wishes to register its deep concern and disgust over the brutal conduct of the officers in uniform as well as suspected cadres who arrested the editor of The Post Newspaper (Mr. Fred M’membe), his wife (Mutinta) and Mr. Joseph Mwenda. The Oasis Forum is fully aware of the implications of avoiding or evading tax and that no legal excuse can be given for individuals and institutions who refuse to pay tax. However, the physical violence unleashed upon them was totally uncalled for and is condemned in the strongest terms,” it said.
The Oasis Forum comprises the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), the Non-Governmental Coordinating Council (NGOCC) and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC).