The decision by the Zambia Revenue Authority to commence Tax Compliance visits at media houses has worried some stakeholders.
On Monday, ZRA through its Acting Director-Investigations Catherine Chilambe had written to a number of radio stations including ZNBC, Daily Mail, Hot FM and Prime TV informing them that ZRA will be undertaking an exercise to check their tax compliance for the period between January 2015 and December 2018.
But some stakeholders are fearing that the Compliance visits are merely a camouflaged assault on Prime TV, seen by many as anti-establishment.
Transparency International Zambia President Reuben Lifuka says no media house will be spared by the government tough stance against divergent views ahead of the 2021 elections.
“When the Zambian political establishment went after the Post Newspapers, other media houses were silent and some celebrated the downfall of the Post and Fred Mmembe. Now the bells are tolling for Prime TV and all others are silent- take note you could be next. Speak out,” Mr. Lifuka said.
He added, “Clearly as we go in Elections 2021, the PF will continue to narrow the space for a free independent media and vibrant civil society.”
Mr. Lifuka said the clampdown on the media makes it difficult for them to provide checks and balances.
“This dilutes checks and balances. We shouldn’t allow this to happen because soon, individual liberties and freedoms will be assaulted,” he said.
And Ackson Sejani accused President Edgar Lungu of plotting to kill Prime TV.
“In 2016, just before Lungu closed the post newspaper, the post asked the following fundamental question: Who will defend the opposition victory? This was in an apparent reference to the imminent closure of the paper then.”
“The fears of the post came to pass as Lungu did whatever he wanted without fearing being exposed by the media. Another election is coming and Lungu wants to do something similar because it worked for him. He is plotting to close prime TV so that no one will defend opposition victory again.
Me Sejani added, “It is happening right before our eyes and I hope we will not take it lying down.”