Police charge nine Daily News journalists

New York, September 26, 2003—Police in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, yesterday charged nine journalists from the Daily News with violating Section 83 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) by practicing journalism without accreditation.

The journalists, who were summoned to the Harare central police station yesterday morning, were on a list of 45 Daily News journalists that the management of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns the paper, submitted to police earlier this week.

All nine journalists signed “warned and cautioned” statements before being released, said sources in Harare. The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted police sources saying that they intend to call in the remaining journalists on the list.

Under AIPPA, all Zimbabwean journalists have to be accredited by the Media and Information Commission (MIC). Journalists at the Daily News, the country’s only independent daily newspaper, said that they had applied for accreditation but were refused on the grounds that they were working for an unregistered publication. Because the ANZ had mounted a constitutional challenge to AIPPA, the company had not registered the Daily News with the MIC. The ANZ applied for registration last week but their application was denied.

Daily News legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo said that the paper’s legal team is seeking a stay of prosecution against the charged journalists, while legal challenges to the act are pending.

The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa is currently challenging the legality of the MIC in court, claiming that none of the commission’s board members were nominated by journalists’ associations or media houses, Agence France-Presse reported. (According to Section 40 of AIPPA, an association of journalists or media houses must nominate at least three board members).