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Zimbabwe's <i>Daily News</i> to Launch Online Edition

A month after it was shut down by the authorities, Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News, is launching an online edition out of South Africa. The newspaper's legal battle against the Zimbabwe government continues.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of The Daily News, says it is going online in response to the requests of its readers. Until it was shut down a month ago, the paper was the largest circulation daily in Zimbabwe.

Associated Newspapers chairman Sam Sipepa Nkomo, says the decision to have the Internet edition hosted in South Africa is to avoid further clashes with the authorities.

Daily News editor Nqobile Nyathi acknowledges that the tabloid will not reach as many people online as it did when it was on newsstands. But she said the online version would provide an alternative voice to the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

"We are looking at things that we think people should know, which The Herald might not report [and] which people would not get to read about until some of the weekly independent papers come out," he said.

Meanwhile, Administrative Court President Michael Majuru said Sunday he would rule by the end of this week on The Daily News's appeal of a government-appointed commission's refusal to grant the paper a license to operate.

The Daily News was forced to close in September after the Supreme Court ruled that, without a license, it was operating illegally.

The publishers of the newspaper had challenged the constitutionality of Zimbabwe's draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The act requires, among other things, that publishers and journalists must obtain a government permit to operate.

The government commission denied the publisher's request for a license and police seized most of the Daily News' office equipment.

The newspaper was founded in 1999. Its fearless criticism of President Robert Mugabe, his ruling ZANU-PF party and the government, is widely believed to be behind its closure.