New York, September 16, 2003—This morning, detectives, security agents, armed paramilitary members, and riot police raided the offices of the Daily News, Zimbabwe’s only independent daily, according to The Associated Press (AP). Officials also seized computers and other equipment belonging to the newspaper.
The raid came after the newspaper was closed on September 12. On September 11 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).
Daily News legal adviser Guglethu Moyo said that police produced no warrant or court order authorizing them to seize the property. “We have not been convicted of any offence. The police are pre-empting the law by conducting this seizure,” Moyo said.
Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, a freelance photographer, and Paul Cadenhead, a photographer working for Reuters news agency, were arrested and taken to the Harare Central Police Station for questioning after they were seen taking photos of the raid. Police also confiscated the journalists’ cameras.
The two journalists were released late today after being charged with “conduct likely to provoke a breach of the peace” and paying fines, the AP reported.
“The harassment of the Daily News and the two photographers who were simply doing their jobs is outrageous,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Zimbabwean authorities are trying to silence all independent sources of information. We call on the Zimbabwean government to allow the Daily News to reopen immediately.”
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 of Zimbabwe, the company that owns the Daily News, 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.
Yesterday, the Daily News filed the application to register with the commission and also sought an urgent ruling from the High Court permitting the paper to continue publishing while its application is being considered. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told state television that the Daily News‘ application for registration was incomplete. Sources at the Daily News said they were told that they had failed to include a code of ethics with the application.