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Zimbabwe Police Seize Equipment of Independent Newspaper - 2003-09-16

Zimbabwe police seized equipment at the Harare offices of the independent newspaper, The Daily News, which was closed by police last Friday.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, the publishers of The Daily News, submitted registration papers Monday to the Media and Information Commission. This is in compliance with last week's Supreme Court ruling that the company had to be registered before the court could hear its claim that parts of the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act are unconstitutional.

Among other things, the law requires newspapers to register, which The Daily News had not done, leading to the first police raid on its offices Friday. The Daily News is Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, and it is frequently critical of the government and the ruling party.

The editor of The Daily News, Nqobile Nyathi, says the latest developments dash hopes that the Daily News would be back on the streets soon after submitting its application.

"We were told by the police that the provision in the act that allows publications or media houses to publish while applications are being processed applies only to those people who registered before the deadline, they are saying we are an illegal organization, we have to wait until after we get a license before we can resume publishing," said Mr. Nyathi.

Under a provision of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act a publishing house that operates without being registered risks having its assets seized, including its printing press.

Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo said Monday The Daily News had been allowed to operate without interference since the registration deadline passed in January. He added that now that the company has taken the issue to court, it must wait for the case to work its way through Zimbabwe's legal system.

Minister Moyo also said the publishing company's application is incomplete, but he did not give details.

In a related development, Francis Mdlongwa, Editor in Chief of the publishing group, announced his resignation Monday. He told the government controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that he was quitting because he had fulfilled his mandate of re-structuring the newspaper group, which he joined earlier this year.