New York, November 9, 2001—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomes the release of Geoff Nyarota, editor-in-chief of the Daily News, and Wilf Mbanga, the former chief executive officer of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the paper’s publisher.
Nyarota and Mbanga were arrested on the morning of November 8 and taken to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Harare.
After spending the night in jail, they appeared before a judge the next morning and were charged with fraud. They were released on bail of Z$10,000 (approximately US$187) and are due to appear in court again on November 28.
The government claims that ANZ filed a false license application with the Zimbabwe Investment Center. On the application form, ANZ listed its former company name as “Motley Investment,” a nonexistent entity.
Sources at the Daily News, however, say this was a clerical error by the consulting house that filed the application on ANZ’s behalf. The actual name of ANZ’s precursor is “Motley Trading,” a firm in which Nyarota and Mbanga were the major shareholders.
Nyarota and Mbanga were also charged with contravening the terms of their license, which was allegedly for a weekly publication; the Daily News is published daily.
This is only the latest instance of what CPJ believes is an orchestrated campaign against the independent paper that began early this year with the bombing of its printing presses and has gained intensity with the approach of presidential elections, scheduled for next year.
This month, CPJ is honoring Nyarota with one of its four 2001 International Press Freedom Awards.