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By Bright Chikele:

THE closure of The Post is making an already volatile political climate more polarized, says the Oasis Forum.

And the Oasis Forum has condemned the brutal conduct of police officers and suspected PF cadres who arrested Post editor-in-chief Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta Mazoka M’membe and deputy managing editor Joseph Mwenda.

In a statement, Oasis Forum chairperson Cleophas Lungu condemned in the strongest terms possible, any form of intimidation and suppression of the independent press.

“The Oasis Forum which includes 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), is not only appalled but also greatly saddened by events surrounding the recent closure of the Post Newspaper offices. This surely borders on infringement of the freedom of the press and that of expression. Given that Zambia will soon be holding its general elections on August 11, 2016 and the fact that the electorate need to make some informed decisions based on a wide array of information, we strongly believe that the closure of The Post does not augur well with our democratic dispensation,” Fr Lungu stated.

“If anything, it is making an already volatile political climate more polarized.

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.”

Fr Lungu stated that if a public authority could have the audacity of ignoring a validly issued and legally binding court order, then Zambians cannot but wonder as to where the country is heading. He stated that again, if the law enforcement agencies could not be seen to fairly, equally, consistently, reasonably and professionally execute their mandate in view of protecting citizens, they wondered as to whom those who felt threatened should run to.

“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,” Fr Lungu stated. He stated that the Oasis Forum was fully aware of the implications of avoiding or evading tax and that no legal excuse could be given for individuals and institutions who refused to pay tax.

Fr Lungu however stated that , the physical violence unleashed upon Post employees was totally uncalled for and was condemned in the strongest terms.

“Finally, the Oasis Forum calls upon our leaders across the political divide to exercise true leadership by toning down their language and avoiding issuing threats against each other. We long to hear the rhetoric of peace and unity that will further entrench our national motto of ‘One Zambia, One Nation.’,” he stated.

Fr Lungu stated that the media was a key stakeholder in any democratic country that does not only preach but puts into practice the dictates of good governance.

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