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Zimbabwe Independent Newspaper Denied License


The application by the publishers of Zimbabwe's independent daily newspaper, The Daily News, has been turned down by the authorities.

Chairman of the Media and Information Commission, the media regulating authority, said Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe was denied a license because it violated various sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The chairman of the government-appointed body, Tafataona Mahoso, was quoted in the state-controlled daily, The Herald, as saying Associated Newspapers had defied the law by not applying when they were required to do so. He also said the publisher continued publishing the newspaper even after the Supreme Court had said they needed to apply for a license.

Associated Newspapers defied the media law, arguing that sections of it, such as the requirement to register, were illegal. The Supreme Court ruled in September 2003 that the newspaper had to be licensed before challenging the Act. After The Supreme court ruling, The Daily News appeared on the streets, the publishers assuming that they could apply for a license while operating, but they had their equipment seized by police.

Since then, a lower court ordered the Media and Information Commission to license the daily and its sister paper The Daily News on Sunday. But every time its publishers thought they had won the battle to resume publication, another hurdle was thrown in their path. The directors were arrested for publishing The Daily News without a license, but were cleared of any wrong doing by the courts.

Founded in 1999, The Daily News, which was highly critical of President Robert Mugabe and his government, quickly became the country's most widely read newspaper.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe spokesperson, Innocent Kurwa, told VOA that the directors are still studying the Media and Information Commission's statement and will hold a press conference Wednesday to announce their next move.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act has been widely condemned as stifling freedom of expression. Besides requiring that publishing houses be registered, journalists also have to apply for a license to operate in Zimbabwe. An unlicensed journalist who operates in Zimbabwe faces a heavy fine and up to two years in jail.

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