New York, January 22, 2004—The Daily News, Zimbabwe’s only independent daily, resumed publication today after police closed it on September 12, 2003, following a Supreme Court declaration that the newspaper was operating illegally.
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns the Daily News, had refused to register the newspaper with the government’s Media and Information Commission (MIC) in 2003. Instead, the company mounted a constitutional challenge to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which mandates registration.
Following the Supreme Court’s September 2003 declaration, the ANZ attempted to register the Daily News, but the MIC rejected its application. Though an administrative court has directed the MIC to register the newspaper, the commission has still not complied.
On December 19, 2003, after an administrative court ruled that the paper should be permitted to resume publication, police occupied the offices of the Daily News and the premises of the ANZ’s printing press. The police refused to allow journalists to enter the buildings to work.
On January 9, 2004, a High Court judge ordered police to vacate the newspaper’s offices and printing press, but police remained on the premises. On January 21, the High Court again ordered police to vacate the newspaper’s offices and to allow journalists back to work. Police finally left the premises that day, after the paper’s staff served them with the order.
The newspaper’s staff plans to resume daily publication, but several obstacles remain. According to Bill Saidi, editor of the Daily News’ Sunday edition, police have not returned most of the paper’s seized equipment, including computers. The ANZ has also lost significant revenues while the paper was closed and has accrued large legal expenses.
In addition, the MIC and the Information Ministry both filed applications to the High Court this afternoon seeking a stay to yesterday’s ruling in order to stop the paper from publishing, said Daily News legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo.