Intimidation may close Zimbabwe paper

The independent Daily News in Zimbabwe is facing closure due to the persecution of the newspaper and its staff, the International Federation of Journalists has warned.

The newspaper is subject to new registration rules, which the IFJ says “are designed to force media to toe the Government line or face extinction”.

The Daily News was recently declared to be operating illegally because it is not registered with the Media and Information Commission.

Zimbabwe’s information minister, Jonathan Moyo, claims the title has chosen not to register, but others say the commission is refusing to accredit it.

Zimbabwe has imposed draconian restrictions that prevent both local and foreign journalists from working freely. The Daily News has been especially targeted by the authorities. Last month, two journalists were arrested and released without charge.

On 12 January, Ernest Mungwari, The Daily News bureau chief in the city of Mutare, was beaten up by thugs, reportedly hired by a man who runs a transport company, after reports in the newspaper about his business.

The Daily News was sued in January by Beatrice Moyo, the wife of the information minister. She is claiming Z$10m (£111,500) in damages.

“The Daily News is being put to the sword by a campaign of intimidation involving powerful people, petty bureaucrats and the police,” said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary.

The IFJ called for the campaign against the newspaper to end and is demanding that the Government lifts restrictions preventing journalists from working in the country. “The very least we can expect is that the police protect journalists from attacks and threats,” said White, “but in Zimbabwe today, even that cannot be guaranteed.”

By Jon Slattery

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