Staff facing charges in Daily News crackdown

Daily News: ‘unregistered’ title

Zimbabwe’s independent Daily News was still off the streets this week despite an international outcry and a High Court judge ruling that police should stop occupying its offices in Harare and hand back seized computer equipment.

There are now fears that the newspaper’s entire editorial staff will be charged by the authorities with working for an “unregistered” title.

The Daily News was closed down by armed police on 13 September after supreme court judges ruled that the newspaper and its journalists must register under Zimbabwe’s infamous media law, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Daily News had argued the new law was unconstitutional.

The newspaper appealed to the High Court over the action by police. High Court judge Younis Omerjee ruled the occupation of the newspaper office should end and seized equipment returned but his judgment was ignored.

An attempt by The Daily News to register was turned down by the Government’s media commission this week on the grounds that the newspaper had published illegally for eight months. Five Daily News directors were also interviewed by police this week and accused of violating the country’s media laws.

The jobs of 300 members of staff are under threat, with the company having to meet overheads while no revenues come in.

The Daily News – whose slogan is “telling it like it is”- has been a thorn in the side of the Mugabe regime since it was founded in 1999. It has survived two bomb attacks and its journalists have been assaulted, threatened and arrested.

The Daily News is appealing for anyone who has spare laptops to help the paper. The use of laptops is seen as one way the paper’s journalists can get round the occupation of the offices and the seizing of their office computers.

If you can help, contact Press Gazette on 020 8565 4448 or e-mail pged@pressgazette.co.uk and we will pass on any offer to The Daily News.

By Jon Slattery

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