Zimbabwe’s Daily News has once again won a court victory to allow it to resume publishing, only to be defied by armed riot police who occupied the newspaper’s print works to keep it off the streets.
The judge who made the order before Christmas allowing The Daily News to republish has asked for police protection after receiving a death threat.
Daily News editor Nqobile Nyathi said that following the court ruling allowing the paper to reopen staff had prepared an eight-page edition, but armed riot police then sealed off entrances to the Harare printing works and ordered all staff to go home.
Judge Selo Nare allowed The Daily News to resume publishing by upholding a ruling by the Administrative Court in October that the newspaper be allowed to reopen.
Following the October ruling, The Daily News appeared for one issue. Its offices were then raided by police, which detained 18 journalists. Four of its directors, including chief executive Sam Nkomo, were arrested and held in jail.
Nare said he was seeking police protection after receiving a threatening letter. It warned a ruling in favour of The Daily News would “result in serious suffering by you personally and members of your family. Take this as a mere threat at your own peril.”
The letter, which purported to be from “war liberators and sons and daughters of the soil”, continued: “We are watching you closely and will not stand idle if you collaborate with sell-outs like The Daily News.”
Nare was assigned the appeal case when another Administrative Court judge withdrew after a state newspaper accused him of bias against the Government.
Police shut down The Daily News and seized 130 computers in September after it was banned under draconian media laws imposed by the Government, which requires newspapers and journalists to register with the state-controlled Media and Information Commission.
In January 2001, The Daily News presses were destroyed in a bomb attack hours after Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the paper as “a threat to national security which had to be silenced”.
By Jon Slattery