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<i>Daily News</i> Publishers Vow to Challenge Zimbabwe Government License Decision - 2003-09-20


The publishers of Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper say they will challenge the government's refusal to give them a license to publish.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, owners of the Daily News said Saturday the decision by the Media and Information Commission denies the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Chief Executive Officer Sam Sipepa Nkomo told a news conference Saturday that he considers the commission not democratically accountable. He promised that his paper will eventually start publishing again.

"When the Daily News is back, we will know that an important corner has been turned," he said. "Democracy in Zimbabwe can then start its fragile, but essential and long overdue journey back to recovery."

The Daily News had operated in defiance of a provision of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which requires publishers and journalists to register with the commission. The company had applied to the Supreme Court to have certain sections of the act declared unconstitutional.

But the Supreme Court ruled on September 11 that the newspaper was operating illegally, and could not challenge the media law, unless it registered first.

Before this could happen, however, the police stormed the company's premises last Friday, ordered the staff out and removed office equipment.

The publisher has since complied with the Supreme Court ruling, and has obtained permission to resume publishing from a lower court. But police continue to deny the staff access to their offices and equipment.

The Daily News was established in 1999, and became the most widely read newspaper in Zimbabwe. It has frequently published articles critical of the government and the ruling Zanu PF party.

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