The Supreme Court in Zambia has declared the liquidation of the influential privately owned newspaper, The Post, illegal.
In a move that was widely viewed to have been political, the newspaper was liquidated in 2016 for alleged failure to pay its debts and taxes – something the publication always disputed.
The Patriotic Front (PF) was in power at the time.
In a landmark ruling on Thursday in Lusaka, the Supreme Court labelled the liquidation process a “faux”.
Chief Justice Mumba Malila, who headed the panel of judges, ordered the process to be re-started in compliance with the law.
The Supreme Court also ordered the newspaper’s liquidator Lewis Mosho to be part of to the new proceedings and be made to account, even though he may have finished selling the assets of the defunct publication.
“We note that much time has passed since the purported liquidation. We do not believe, however, that such passage of the time has sanitised the wrongful manner in which the liquidation was conducted,” the stinging 55-page judgement said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we hold that the actions of the liquidator – prior to and post the purported liquidation of the Post Newspaper – are of no legal effect whatsoever,” it added.
The newspaper was critical of the PF and then-President Edgar Lungu, who lost power to opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in elections last year.
Many Zambians on social media have celebrated the judgement.