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Zimbabwe19 August 2005

"I haven’t lost hope"
Personal account of The Daily News editor Samuel Sipepa Nkomo

Founded in 1999, The Daily News had a circulation of 150,000 when it was banned in September of 2003, the year it won the Reporters Without Borders / Fondation de France prize.

After a two-year legal battle, the Media and Information Commission (MIC) refused on 18 July 2005 to let The Daily News reappear, although the supreme court had ruled that the ban was illegal.

Forty-five of The Daily News’ journalists are to be tried on 12 October for working without official accreditation. They face two years in prison.

Nkomo is both editor of The Daily News and executive chairman of the company that publishes it, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ). He has been having the worst period in his career since The Daily News and its Sunday edition, Daily News On Sunday, were banned.

"I haven’t lost hope"

"I am not surprised that we were shut down. We were radical in our reporting, as we were supposed to be. Those that shut us down were cowards who could not stand constructive criticism. The bunch that shut down The Daily News will soon come to an end and The Daily News will bounce back on the streets again.

I have ceased to estimate a time as to when the paper will come back, but all I am saying is I will remain here as the boss of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) until the papers are back on the streets. It could be a few months or a few years, but I will still be here.

I have had to endure heart-breaking years as the chief executive officer of ANZ but if the head loses hope, then the body loses hope. I have not lost hope. I have the responsibility to keep hopes high. I still think that The Daily News will hit the streets again one day. As I said, that day is not far away. Evil cannot continue to rule indefinitely.

Since the closure of both The Daily News and Daily News On Sunday on 12 September 2003, we have spent Z$10 billion (182,000 Euros) on legal fees and costs related to the closure of the two titles. Our majority shareholder, Strive Masiyiwa, has financed us during the last 2 years. When the papers were shut down, he promised to continue supporting and funding us for two years and sadly, the two years are now up, without us getting the paper back on the streets. We have no option but to go back to him to support us in our battle to get a license. It might be a case of him drip-feeding us, as he has other commitments elsewhere.

We have filed two cases in the Administrative Court and the High Court. It is unbelievable. I would like to put it this way: it is not a question of our believing or not believing in the judicial system in Zimbabwe. Even if I did not have confidence in the judicial system, I would still go there. There is no option. This judicial system is the only one we have. It is like our country, Zimbabwe. It is our one and only Zimbabwe. You cannot substitute it for another country.

I am much saddened by the fact that we have had to lay off 167 workers including journalists as a result of this protracted legal battle. But I believe all those who worked for both The Daily News and Daily News On Sunday are burning in their hearts with the desire to come back and "tell it as it is." That was our slogan at The Daily News - Telling It As It Is. Those workers who have been laid off know it was not our desire to do this, but the government’s. Once the papers are back, they will come back. Right now we have lost two floors of offices consisting both editorial and marketing, as a result of the MIC decision not to give us a licence. But a new dawn is close. When we come back we will be much stronger and more committed. Even some of our journalists, who are now residents outside the country, will come back and make The Daily News what it was. This is not far from being achieved. If God is for us, then we do not see those that are against us prevailing for long."

In this country
14 May - Zimbabwe
Three journalists arrested, held overnight then freed on bail
21 April - Zimbabwe
Freelance photojournalist released on bail
3 March - Zimbabwe
Woman journalist freed after being held for three months
18 February - Zimbabwe
Reporters Without Borders makes three recommendations in open letter to Morgan Tsvangirai
9 January - Zimbabwe
Regional body asked to intercede on behalf of imprisoned woman journalist

in the annual report
Zimbabwe - Annual Report 2008
Zimbabwe - Annual Report 2007
Zimbabwe - Annual report 2006

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africa archives

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