FEBRUARY 25, 2005
Posted: March 17, 2005

The Weekly TimesCENSORED

The government-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC) shuttered the independent regional newspaper The Weekly Times after just eight weeks of publication, saying the newspaper violated the country’s media legislation. Local journalists told CPJ the closure was part of a systematic clampdown on critical media in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for March 31.

The MIC canceled The Weekly Times’s publishing license for one year, saying it had misrepresented information on its application for accreditation, a violation of the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). MIC Chairman Tafataona Mahoso said the newspaper had promised to make social issues a priority but had focused instead on political advocacy. The state-owned daily The Herald quoted Mahoso as saying that the paper’s reporting had been “narrowly political, clearly partisan and even separatist.”

One local source told CPJ that The Weekly Times, based in Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo, was considered a threat to the government because it covered economic and political problems and provided a platform for airing regional grievances. The newspaper’s owner, Godfrey Ncube, said The Weekly Times was closed for political reasons, and that he would appeal the decision in court, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Weekly Times is the fourth private newspaper to be closed under AIPPA. Others include the Daily News, the country’s only independent daily; the Daily News on Sunday; and the weekly Tribune.