From l-r, International Press Institute Executive Board Vice Chairs Markus Spillmann, Ken MacQuarrie and Dawn Thomas, IPI Executive Board Chair John Yearwood and IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi at IPI's 66th AG
From l-r, International Press Institute Executive Board Vice Chairs Markus Spillmann, Ken MacQuarrie and Dawn Thomas, IPI Executive Board Chair John Yearwood and IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi at IPI’s 66th AG

Members of the International Press Institute (IPI) have called on the Zambian government to end its pressure on The Mast and allow The Post to reopen.

The IPU members are also calling on the Zambian government to allow all media outlets in the country to operate independently.

They are further urging authorities to respect the vital role of media freedom to democracy, to end political pressure on media in general and to respect the right of Zambia’s citizens to free expression.

This is part of the resolutions passed at the 66th IPU Annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on May 20, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.

Full text of the resolution below

IPI General Assembly Resolution 2017: Zambia

The members of the International Press Institute (IPI), meeting at their 66th Annual General Assembly during the IPI World Congress on May 20, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany, adopted by unanimous vote a resolution calling on Zambia to end its harassment and persecution targeting independent media, particularly the newspaper The Post and its successor, The Mast.

Zambia has avoided much of the war and instability that marked many other African countries following independence, enjoying a reputation as a leader in respect for democracy and human rights in the region. However, events ahead of and since the August 2016 general election, which saw a marked increase in political violence, cast a troubling shadow over that reputation.

Less than two months before the election, revenue authorities seized the offices and printing presses of Zambia’s leading independent voice, The Post, over disputed tax debts. The raid followed authorities’ refusal to allow the paper to enter into a repayment plan, and authorities later refused to honour a court order to return the assets to The Post. When the paper continued to publish, printing copies at an undisclosed location with content from reporters and editors working in secret, government agents targeted suspected publishers with raids seeking “illegal goods” – copies of The Post – and opened an investigation targeting the paper’s attorneys.

Following the election, the government changed tack, using complaints by four former staffers for unpaid wages to initiate liquidation proceedings, ending the paper’s run in November 2016. Other former staffers were unwilling to surrender and founded a new paper, The Mast.

However, like The Post, The Mast must be printed in secret and it enjoys limited distribution. Moreover, the liquidator now seeks The Mast’s dissolution, relying on the unsubstantiated allegation that the paper’s leaders converted Post assets, a claim The Mast and its attorneys deny.

The Post and The Mast are not the only targets of pressure. Despite President Edgar Lungu’s narrow re-election, the government soon revoked the operating licenses of three independent private broadcasters for “[posing] a risk to national peace and security”. The licenses were reinstated after the broadcasters apologised and the government later acknowledged the charge had been related to their perceived bias against Lungu’s party ahead of the election.

IPI members recognised that the 2016 election – in which voters were prevented from receiving news and information from the one major voice not aligned with the ruling party, hindering their ability to make fully informed decisions about their future – represents a step backward for democracy in Zambia, both in terms of the government’s willingness to use pretextual means to silence a persistent critic ahead of an election and the risk that such conduct, as well as the overall spike in violence, could become normalised.

The IPI members called on Zambia’s government to end its pressure on The Mast and allow The Post to reopen, and to allow all media outlets in the country to operate independently. They also urged authorities to respect the vital role of media freedom to democracy, to end political pressure on media in general and to respect the right of Zambia’s citizens to free expression.

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43 COMMENTS

    • How ridiculous.

      This is not a case of the post against Government
      It is one of the ZRA against the post.

      Zambians are dull its cringeworthy

      Thanks

      BB2014,2016

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    • PF only wants the likes of ZNBC to be the only media houses in Zambia. I just heard Masuzyo Ndhlovu telling the nation that ZNBC staff will soon be trained by a pastor of Dunamis Church in Nigeria! Isn’t this laughable? Why not send them to professional institutions?

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    • Lusaka Times is very balanced in their reporting and very ENLIGHTENING. Why was the POST so biased? We need quality news like what LT gives us. Should we allow lawlessness at the expense of objective reporting? Ba IPI get to the truth and stand for the good of our country, ZAMBIA. Not for an INDIVIDUAL! Encourage your members not be arrogant and disrespectful. How are they going to change if you do not admonish them? Give LT as a role model please.

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    • Mmembe will have the final laugh all the way to the bank. Mark my words. All these illegal cases will be reversed and government will be ordered to pay back in full, with interest, minus tax returns from date of Post closure. But distress, and interest will take back to Mmembe 75% of tax returns.

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    • THESE CHAPS- WHO TOLD THEM THE POST COULDN’T OPENED? THE TAX MUST BE PAID BY THE POST JUST LIKE ANY BUSINESS OR ANY INDIVIDUAL NEEDED TO PAY TAX. I WONDER- WHY DO WE HAVE THE WASTE TELLING US TO REOPEN, EG, THE POST NEWSPAPER WHICH HASN’T BEEN PAYING TAX FOR AGES AND YET AVOIDING TO PAY TAX IN THE WEST IS HEAVILY PUNISHABLE. I MEAN, ONE COULD EASILY LAND IN JAIL IN THE WEST. HIPPOCRICY?

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    • BOTH THE POST AND THE MAST ARE DEVIL’S PROPAGANDA TOOLS (DEVIL’S ADVOCATES) ENOUGH TO PLUNGE ZAMBIA INTO UNRECOVERABLE MESS.
      ========================
      IPI kindly STFU!

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    • Good advice from IPI. This government has eroded our country’s democracy. We don’t want witchhunters, we want who are always thinking about development of our nation.

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  1. The media needs to be free. Free from government control and unlike The Post, free from PF control. The media must not enter into deals with political parties. Deadnbc should be freed

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    • Media is free in zambia but paying tax is not free. Don’t mix tax with media freedom.

      The problem in zambia, many people are not educated to separate issues.

      Pay tax and write whatever you want.

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  2. Absolute freedom is absolute nosense. Its the media that contributed by 85% Rwanda’s genocide by careless reporting and inciting the public. The post and it’s problems are self infringed. They thought they are bigger than the state. Worse still what about the money they owe the Zambian government? Because of institutions like such, today we parents have no say over our own children. Long live Zambia.

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    • The abuse of the media in the Rwanda genocide was due to lack of media freedom. The media was partisan and not independent of the political bigwigs of the moment. There were no reliable alternative sources to collaborate or dismiss the genocide propaganda. Media freedom is essential for a thriving society. Like your name your kind of thinking should only be confined to the sewerage tank.

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  3. Really laughable …how can you even contemplate The Post re – opening even with all its assets liquidated it does not put in the black…forget about it its history!!

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  4. Much as these international business partners for the mast and post would want the government to allow their partners to operate freely, they should also advise the same media houses to stick to their core values of intertaining, educating and informing….not inciting hatred and violence in their reporting..!

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  5. Listen to Radio Icengelo and there’s a media very free, very real, very factual, very impartial, very to the point.

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  6. Pleas to our international readers, can you spare a moment to highlight the plight of poor zambians under the assaults on democracy by the lungu regime, could you help in passing on our petitions and concern to western money lenders like the IMF and others contemplating giving money to the lungu regime which will only be used to attack and errod democracy in Zambia.

    Thank you.
    Concerned zambians.

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  7. Thank God we have the whites to put order in these african countries ruled by dull dictators

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  8. All this bad publicity about Zambia is because of Mushota and her PF government. Wondering if there any morally educated people in PF government. Zambia is laughed at by the entire world because of a few people – Lungu, Mushota, Kaiser Zulu etc. They now call iPi as part of UPND. Delusional and paranoid.

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    • I agree with education is an elusive commodity in the PF camp that’s why their decisions are irrational and childish.They are taking Zambia backwards to stone age days with their cadres ululating with Kaponya syndrome behaviour. Comments from cadres are not surprising because they are Kaponyas who have learnt communication skills with no analysis. whatever qualifications they claim to have, take them as Kaponyas.

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  9. All what I see in that picture are donkey heads sitting on human shoulders. Certainly I can see the long mouths and the extended ears, oh and the fur.

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  10. TOTAL NONSENSE.ADVICE FRED M’MEEMBE TO PAY WHAT HE OWES THE GOVT.THIS CHAP USED TO GET K 1.5 BILLION MONTHLY SALARY WITHOUT PAYING HIS WORKERS.THIS IS WHAT GREED CAN DO?HOW MANY PEOPLE HAS HE SENT TO THE GRAVES IN THE NAME OF FREE MEDIA REPORTING?
    THE POST MUST NEVER BE OPENED AND I WANT TO APPEAL TO ZRA TO FOLLOW THE MAST AS WELL AND COLLECT WHAT IS DUE TO THE GOVT.
    IF IT IS NORMAL FOR ORGANIZATION IN OTHER COUNTRIES TO EVADE TAX,LET IT BE SO NOT HERE IN ZAMBIA.
    IPU,WERE AWARE ABOUT THE POST’S PROBLEMS,OF NOT PAYING TAX.WHY DIDN’T THEY HELP THE POST TO PAY TAX.
    IT IS VERY FOOLISH TO CONNECT THE GOVT TO A PURELY BUSINESS TRANSACTION.VERY SOON M’MEEMBE WILL LOOSE THE HOUSE WHERE HE IS STAYING BECAUSE OF THE LOAN HE GOT FROM THE BANK.IS IPU GOING TO APPEAL TO THE BANK TO GIVE THE…

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  11. Who is this political novice and cadre Mushota kanshi who thinks he can comment on all articles? Kandile, encito aingila foolish damage controls. Cry my beloved Zbia.

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  12. PEOPLE, DONT WORRY LUNGU IS DYING SOON. HIS HIV/AIDS IS IN THE FINAL STAGE, IT IS AFFECTING HIS BRAIN, THATS WHY YOU ARE SEEING HIM ANGRY ALL THE TIME. HE KNOWS HIS TIME IS UP.

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  13. Kekekekeke spaka like lilo,you really trouble your heart!!
    This IPI resolution is written by Fred M’membe.the chap is confused and he has got nowhere to run to.
    Fred M’membe made a life mistake by partnering with Political parties.before 2011,Fred M’membe had a deal with late Michael Sata.good for him Zambians came to know about that deal late after Sata had won.in 2015 and 2016 M’membe had a deal with HH’s UPND so that if HH wins,his Post Newspaper would not be paying tax.sadly for HH,Zambian voters by then knew how evil Fred M’membe is,hence not voting for HH.
    So “ba spaka like lilo”,STOP TROUBLING YOURSELF BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW YOU WISH ZAMBIA BAD,IMF,WORLD BANK,AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK AND OTHER PARTNERS WILL CONTINUE GIVING US LOANS AND GRANTS!!
    as for The Post let…

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    • We who care for the democracy of Zambia with the help of social media will try to make the international community realise lungus assault on democracy.

      You can laugh and brush off our efforts, but the more lies you tell and brutality you show, the more your defects are made apparent.

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  14. @CHINGUMBE F:you will be shocked with the fact that ECL will live longer than yourself.its evil to wish somebody death.
    Moreover,you guys in upnd must know that even if God takes away ECL from us (GOD FORBID),NO BY ELECTION WOULD BE HELD IN ZAMBIA UNTIL 2021!!!
    For you CHINGUMBE F,just prepare your HH for another DEFEAT (his 6th in general) AT THE HANDS OF PRESIDENT EDGAR LUNGU IN 2021!!!

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  15. This is the WORST INSULT from the so-called IPI members on the governance system of an African State. These “HALF WITS” fail to tell between a tax evader who swore never to pay TAX to ZRA and upholding of ethics of journalism as a business subject to tax laws. These “HALF WITS” believe legality on reigns in the Western countries, but barbaric breaking of the Laws must only prevail in Africa. What a set of *****S!

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  16. Anyone who wants to venture into business should think of media because of the following:
    1. It has high ROI due to the fact that you are tax exempted.
    2. It is the only businesses you are untouchable.
    3. You can go against the set laws and you will be supported by IPI who are vuvuzela’s of erring media houses.

    On a serious note, should this be the case, ZRA should stop harassing other businesses for TAX because then a precedent is set.

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    • The post was the most variable paper business wise,with sales approaching 1million kwacha per day. It’s sales supported close to 2000 families.

      A payment plan would have been arranged if this was not political persecution by lungu…..

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  17. The rediculous and foolish one is u Mushombo pweletete Mushota. Munyela namunshila umopita. It seems. are a lunatic. U dont seem to see anything good apart from chishala (rubbish dump) .

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  18. The post was closed by lungu to silence his critics and cover massive corruption and mismanagement in Zambia.

    The post would have asked why did the arson Attacks in parts of the country begin during the time of the incaciration of HH and suddenly stop when the IMF and other investors were in livingstone, the fires also concided with PF announcing they had spent $42 million on 42 fire trucks of questionable value. With on going arsonist attacks, who would question the purchase of those expensive trucks. ?????

    Did who ever ordered the fires realise with IMF and other investment parties in the country at the time ,Zambia would seem like a risk, and ordered an end to the fires. ?????

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    • @Spaka like lilo that is exactly my point with all those sales figures and the post being a Darling for so many Zambians, I honestly see no reason why the failure to settle their obligation.
      As you have rightly put it sale figures of K1m a day is not a joke…. Numbers dont lie, why the failure and allow figures accumulate to such levels? Did they need to be reminded?
      Well Spaka I still don’t see why the post issue should be treated with kids gloves when poor Zambians are settling their obligations.

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    • Mutinta,

      Is the ZRA in the business of closing down viable business . who are capable of paying backdated taxes, and in the process of closing them down, making thousands of individuals destitute ?

      Is the ZRA there to maximise tax revenues to the treasury by working out payment arrangements with defaulting companies, in the process preserving and even increasing the tax paying citizens ?

      I am no tax or financial expert but the intentions by GRZ of shutting down a viable business are suspicious.

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  19. These IPI seem not to know why thé Post was closed. They failed to pay tax and honestly do u expect President Lungu to pay tax for them for you to prove that he values democracy ? If IPI is a real friend to the Post, pay for them and it shall be well. Stop waffling on issues u do nt realy understand.

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  20. As long as a paper is not inciting violence or defaming people and institutions or producing ‘fake news’, they are free to pursue an ideology. It is up to people to decide whether they want to read particular narratives. Even in the UK currently, some papers strive for objectivity while some tabloids have aligned themselves with specific party positions. For example, the SUN paper backs the Conservatives while the Mirror backs Labour.
    My point being it is up to the parties to convince people that their policies are worth their salt and the party deserves to govern – and not through shutting up dissenting voices or banning a press that is critical of your policies.

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    • or cancelling meetings, press conferences and fund raising events of the opposition…….

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  21. Ba spaka like lilo awemwandi lyakwa namungwa mwabwelapofye. You can look but you can not see, you can read but you can not understand as for my fellow Zambians why argue with a person who does not know right and left.

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  22. It seems the easiest investment to avoid taxes is mass media. Just sympathise with the opposition to survive, and ZRA cannot touch you for fear of infringing on freedom of expression.

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