London demo for Daily News

Protesters at the High Commission in London

A demonstration against the forced closure of Zimbabwe’s independent Daily News took place in London on Saturday.

Wearing gags, symbolising the suppression of freedom of speech by the Robert Mugabe regime, protesters gathered outside the Zimbabwean High Commission in The Strand.

Diana Morant, of protest organiser Amnesty International, said: “The Zimbabwean Government has brought in legislation to crack down on the independent media, and journalists are targeted by the police and security services to prevent exposure of horrific human rights violations, including torture of government critics.”

Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, a judge stepped down from presiding over The Daily News’s appeal against the regime’s refusal to give it an operating licence and allow it to resume publishing. Judge Michael Manjuru was accused of being biased in the paper’s favour by the state-owned Herald newspaper.

Lawyers acting for The Daily News asked the court to let it publish pending a final ruling on the licence.

The court was told the paper suffered heavy loses after it was forced to close in September.

“The economic harm suffered by The Daily News is immeasurable,” said lawyer Eric Matinenga. “Importantly, there is also immeasurable harm to the citizens of this country.” Judgment was reserved.

Daily News staff were in Nigeria this week at the Commonwealth conference in Abuja to lobby delegates and publish a 48-page special issue covering events in Zimbabwe over the past four years.

By Jon Slattery

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