Justice Michael Majuru, president of the Administrative Court in Harare,
ordered the government’s Media and Information Commission on 24 October to
register the independent paper the Daily News before 30 November, thereby
enabling it to reappear. The court unanimously ruled that the media
commission had unjustly refused to register it on 19 September. The High
Court had ordered the paper closed on 11 September because it was not duly
registered and police shut it down the next day.
Commission cooperates with government plan to silence sole independent daily
Authorities continue to harass the Daily News
Police again occupied the premises of the Daily News on 22 September. This time armed with a search warrant, they seized equipment and issued summonses to four directors, who were charged for illegally operating a media business.
The government’s Media and Information Commission refused to register the Daily News on 19 September, which means it will almost certainly not reappear. Its editors have decided to appeal to the Administrative Court, but this is unlikely to be effective as the Court is only able to make recommendations to the Media and Information Commission.
Reporters Without Borders today said it was "outraged" at the news of the Media and Information Commission’s unanimous decision on 19 September to silence Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, by rejecting the registration request filed by its editors four days earlier.
The Commission, of which all six members are appointed by the government, said the Daily News did not meet the criteria set by the law. The newspaper has appealed against the ruling to the courts.
"The authorities are depriving the Zimbabwean population of its right to diverse and independent news sources in a country where the government controls the two other dailies as well as TV and radio," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard protested.
Ménard said the Commission, which normally takes several months to reach such a decision, had acted with remarkably speed, in fact, just in time to prevent the newspaper’s reappearance, ordered a few days earlier by the High Court. "This is without a doubt a final manoeuvre by the authorities to do away with this independent daily," he said.
Reporters Without Borders recalls that the Daily News was the target of a genuine harassment of the authorities in order to prevent it from appearing. The newspaper has disappeared from the streets since 12 September, a day after the Supreme Court declared it to be operating illegally. Acting without a warrant, police confiscated about 100 computers from the newspaper on 16 and 17 September. The High Court on 18 September ruled that it could resume publishing pending the Media and Information Commission’s decision on its registration request. The High Court at the same time ordered the return of the confiscated equipment. But the police refused to comply and reoccupied the newspaper’s offices. The Daily News’ publishers applied for registration on 15 September, but their request was rejected by the Commission which considered that the daily did not comply with the provisions of the law.