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Zimbabwe Publisher Vows to Fight Closure - 2004-06-11

The publisher of an independent weekly newspaper, which was shut down by Zimbabwe authorities, says he will appeal the decision.

The publisher of The Tribune, Kindness Paradza, says the government's decision to suspend the newspaper's license for a year was based on faulty evidence and will be appealed.

Zimbabwe's Media and Information Commission, which issued the suspension, said the publisher failed to notify the government of changes in its ownership and name, and attempted to mislead the commission in violation of Zimbabwe's controversial media laws.

But Mr. Paradza says he complied with the notification requirements, and called the suspension a blow to the freedom of the press in Zimbabwe.

?Those allegations are not valid, in our opinion, because they were meant just as compliance, and this is what we did. We have since complied with whatever they wanted us to do; we have supplied M.I.C. (the Media and Information Commission) with all the information,? Mr. Paradza said.

The publisher, who is a member of the parliament for the ruling Zanu-PF party, has publicly criticized the media law. The Tribune, which first published in 2002, also did not shy away from taking an independent editorial line on government policies.

The Tribune was on the streets Friday as usual, but Mr. Paradza says he has not ignored the order to cease operations.

"The notice, which came to us, was not a formal notice. It was just a form of a press statement, and that press statement, which came to us was not addressed to anybody, but it's a statement given to all other news media, and it does not give us a timeframe to say we should stop publishing by what date. That's why we published," Mr. Paradza added.

The suspension of The Tribune came a day after four directors of another banned newspaper, The Daily News, went on trial on charges of publishing without a license. The newspaper, and its sister publication, The Daily News on Sunday, were closed down last year, when their publishers defied the licensing authority, saying the media law requiring registration is unconstitutional. Mr. Paradza said The Tribune is properly registered, and said he will ask the court to allow him to continue publishing, pending the appeals court decision on the suspension of his license.