Daily News forced to lay off majority of its workforce

Zimbabwe’s beleaguered Daily News has laid off most of its 250 employees as government laws continue to prevent it publishing, writes Jon Slattery.

Sam Nkomo, chief executive officer of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, which publishes the paper, told a news conference in Harare that the company would retain about 50 people.

“ANZ regrets to announce it has decided to retrench all its employees with immediate effect,” he said.

Vital court cases which could decide the future of The Daily News have been postponed to 3 March.

The Daily News and the Government have lodged a series of legal cases that are due to be heard together. The paper is seeking an operating licence to publish while the Government is challenging the paper’s right to print and wants a permanent ban.

News staff suffered a blow last week when a judge refused an application for them to be accredited by the Media and Information Commission ahead of the upcoming legal hearings.

Any journalists who work in Zimbabwe without MIC approval can be charged with a criminal offence and jailed.

The Daily News was closed down by armed police in September but briefly resumed publishing on 22 January following a High Court order that forced police to vacate its premises and stop interfering with its operations.

But on 5 February the Supreme Court upheld parts of Zimbabwe’s media laws as constitutional and the paper had to close. The court ruled that it was a criminal offence to operate without MIC accreditation.

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