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Zimbabwe Newspaper Grows Despite Limits on Media Freedom - 2003-05-20


Conditions may not be ideal for the media in Zimbabwe, but this has not slowed the growth of an independent print media.

The independent Daily News on Sunday has hit the newsstands at a time when there are already four Sunday papers in the country. Editor Bill Saidi says he believes that as long as a paper offers readers something different, there is always room for more.

Mr. Saidi said the idea for the Daily News on Sunday is to provide an analytical view of events unfolding in the country, and to also offer some easy reading to help people relax on Sundays.

"We believe that apart from the entertainment aspect, which I think is also very, very important for Zimbabweans, the political, economic and social aspects are vital, and we think that we can do our part in making people more aware of the problems facing this country," he said.

The Daily News on Sunday is the sister paper of Daily News, which was launched in 1999. At that time the only two daily newspapers on the market were state controlled. But the Daily News showed that readers wanted an alternative voice, since it quickly became the biggest selling daily in Zimbabwe, a position it still holds.

The newspaper has had its share of run-ins with the authorities. These include the arrests of its journalists and the bombing of its offices and printing press.

Despite this, the Daily News on Sunday is the only newspaper in the country that has refused to register under the requirement of the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which President Robert Mugabe signed into law soon after he was re-elected last year.

The Daily News on Sunday is challenging the constitutionality of that act in the courts. Mr. Saidi said the AIPPA, as the act is popularly known, is not going to deter him and his staff.

"Really, I think the whole concept of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is anathema to democracy. It is absolutely evil, and I think that every journalist worth his salt should fight this law, and we are going ahead as if nothing has happened, because I know that if it is not AIPPA they will introduce something else. This government seems determined to deny the people a chance to get at the truth," he explained.

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court struck down a part of the act earlier this month. The Daily News's own challenge goes before the court next month.

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