New York, September 18, 2003—Zimbabwe’s High Court ruled today to allow the Daily News, the country’s only independent daily, to resume publishing after being closed for seven days. A High Court judge also ordered authorities to immediately return computers and other equipment confiscated by the police during a Tuesday, September 16, raid on the newspaper’s offices.
Sources at the Daily News told CPJ that the newspaper could appear back on the stands as early as tomorrow. The staff may use borrowed equipment to publish the paper, since their own has yet to be returned.
The raid on the Daily News offices came after the newspaper was closed on September 12. On September 11, the Supreme Court had said that the Daily News was operating illegally under provisions of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Earlier today, the Daily News asked the High Court to rule that the seizure of its equipment was illegal. Attorneys for the newspaper also argued that the Daily News was entitled under media laws to reopen until its registration application with the state media commission is completed. The Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, the company that owns the Daily News, applied for registration on Monday.
Under the AIPPA, all media companies are required to register with the Media and Information Commission (MIC) in order to operate. The registration application forces media outlets to disclose details such as the companies’ business plans, as well as the curriculum vitae and political affiliations of the companies’ directors, Zimbabwean journalists said. The Associated Newspapers group had challenged the legislation as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled that it would not consider the constitutional challenge until the newspaper had “submitted itself to the law” by registering with the MIC. Sources at the Daily News told CPJ that on Tuesday, the owners re-filed their challenge with the Supreme Court.
Photographers detained and released
Three freelance photojournalists who were arrested yesterday at a pro-democracy protest march in the capital, Harare, were released today after spending the night in a holding cell at Harare’s Central Police Station.
Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, Aaron Ufumeli, and Syrus Nhara paid a small fine upon their release and were charged with “interfering with police activity,” according to Mukwazhi. The journalists are unsure whether they will be asked to appear in court. Mukwazhi said that police questioned the journalists, asking them how they knew about the protest, and whether they had obtained official permission to photograph it.
According to news reports, protesters at the march called for the reopening of the Daily News. Police arrested more than 100 demonstrators before breaking up the rally.
Mukwazhi had just been released the day before, after being held for seven hours on Tuesday along with Paul Cadenhead of Reuters. The two were detained while photographing the raid on the Daily News offices.