Crucial court hearing into fate of Daily News

The Daily News has beaten off yet another attempt by the Government of Zimbabwe to close it down but is now facing a crucial court case which could decide its long-term fate.

The newspaper has welcomed the decision of Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku not to grant an interdict sought by the Media and Information Commission to stop Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) from publishing The Daily News and Daily News on Sunday.

It is now hoping police will return the 136 computers confiscated when the paper was forced to close in September. This would enable The Daily News to produce more than the 16-page issues it is currently limited to after getting back on the streets on 22 January.

ANZ now faces a vital court date on 18 February when legal issues facing the publisher and its newspapers will be consolidated into one case.

Meanwhile, a senior judge has fled the country after being subjected to “severe harassment” by Government officials for lifting a ban on the paper.

Judge Michael Majuru, who was under investigation for alleged bias against the Government, has gone to South Africa. In October, he ruled the Media and Information Commission, which issues the licences required by newspapers and journalists, was biased and “improperly constituted” because all its members were officials of the state-owned press.

The Government ignored the ruling.

Majuru, who was due to consider an appeal by The Daily News, was forced to stand down. The case was taken over by Selo Nare.

When he was about to deliver judgment last month, a letter purportedly signed by members of Mugabe’s war veterans militia threatened him and his family with “serious suffering” if he ruled against the Government.

Nare defied the threats and backed The Daily News.

By Dominic Ponsford

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