New York, October 27, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is outraged that four directors of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns the country’s only independent daily, the Daily News, were arrested today and will spend tonight in police custody in the capital, Harare.
The four directors—ANZ CEO Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Michael Stuart Mattinson, Brian Mutsau, and Rachel Kuapara—were arrested this afternoon after presenting themselves to police in Harare. They were charged with publishing a newspaper without a license under Zimbabwe’s repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Yesterday, October 26, police in the southwestern city of Bulawayo arrested ANZ director Washington Sansole, who was also charged with publishing a newspaper without a license. According to Daily News legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo, authorities told the ANZ that they would not release Sansole until the ANZ’s other directors presented themselves to the police. Sansole was released earlier today after lawyers for the newspaper obtained a High Court order for his release, Moyo told CPJ, but the four other directors remain in custody.
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, if convicted, the directors each face a large fine or a two-year jail term.
The arrests came after the Daily News published on Saturday its first edition since police closed the newspaper on September 12 following a Supreme Court declaration that the paper was operating illegally because it had not registered with the country’s Media and Information Commission (MIC). The ANZ’s application to register with the MIC was rejected the following week.
On October 24, the Harare Administrative Court ruled that the MIC had been biased in its decision to reject the ANZ application, and that the commission was improperly constituted because none of its members was nominated by an association of journalists or media houses, as stipulated under the AIPPA. The court directed that a properly constituted commission grant the ANZ a registration certificate by November 30.
After consulting with lawyers, the Daily News decided to publish its Saturday edition despite the legal confusion over the status of their license.
But on October 25, as the newspaper was working on its Sunday edition, police raided the Daily News offices and arrested 18 journalists. All of the journalists were released later that day, after being made to sign statements saying they worked for the ANZ.