Zimbabwe's police refuse to vacate Daily News office

Zimbabwean police defied a court order at the weekend which should have allowed the banned Daily News to start publishing again.

Daily News journalists were stopped by police from entering The Daily News production office.

Sam Nkomo, chief executive officer of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, which publishes The Daily News, was this week filing court papers accusing the police and information minister Jonathan Moyo and his agents of being in contempt of court.

The High Court in Zimbabwe last Friday had ordered the police to vacate The Daily News premises, enabling the paper to resume printing.

But Nkomo said of the police: “They said they had not received any instructions from their bosses. So they physically prevented us from going into our printing premises.”

The Zimbabwe Government is understood to be appealing against the order. The police have been stationed at The Daily News offices since 19 December, when the Administrative Court granted ANZ an order allowing it to resume publishing.

The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday have been banned since September.

Zimbabwean police have charged three journalists from another independent newspaper with criminal defamation over a report that President Robert Mugabe had commandeered an Air Zimbabwe aircraft for his private use.

Iden Wetherell, editor of The Zimbabwe Independent, news editor Vincent Kahiya and chief reporter Dumisani Muleya were arrested and held in jail over the weekend before being bailed.

The Independent reported that Mugabe had ordered the plane to take him from Malaysia to Indonesia on holiday. The story was headlined: “Mugabe grabs plane for Far East holiday.”

By Jon Slattery

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