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Zimbabwe20 July 2005

Government-appointed commission refuses to give The Daily News a licence

Reporters Without Borders said today it was "extremely disappointed" that The Daily News’ two-year legal battle to resume publishing has been blocked by the government-appointed Media and Information Commission’s refusal on 18 July to grant it a license, in defiance of a 14 March supreme court ruling quashing a ban on the newspaper.

"This relentless suppression of Zimbabwe’s only privately-owned daily newspaper shows the Media and Information Commission (MIC) totally lacks independence," the organisation said.

The MIC claimed that the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that publishes The Daily News, breached various sections of the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) concerning the accreditation of journalists and the publication of a newspaper without a licence. The act makes it obligatory for news media and journalists to register with the commission, and those who do not comply can be imprisoned.

ANZ executive chairman Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said he would appeal against the decision before an administrative court. He accused the MIC of refusing to give The Daily News a licence in order to reopen legal proceedings that would delay the newspaper’s reappearance indefinitely.

Forty-five journalists employed by the newspaper and its sister publication, The Daily News on Sunday, face the possibility of two-year prison sentences when they appear in court on 12 October on charges of working without official accreditation. Founded in 1999, The Daily News had a circulation of 150,000. It was banned in September 2003.

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