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Zimbabwe Court Orders License Granted to <i>The Daily News</i> - 2003-10-24

A Zimbabwe court has ordered the government to grant a license to the country's only independent daily newspaper, which authorities closed six weeks ago. But government officials say they will appeal.

The president of the Zimbabwe Administrative Court, Michael Majuru, issued the ruling, accusing the media commission of bias, and saying it is improperly constituted.

The judge and two assessors on the court ordered that a new commission be put in place by November 30, and that the new commission issue a license to The Daily News by that date. The court said, if that is not done, the paper would be considered registered anyway.

The Daily News had refused to register under Zimbabwe's new media law, signed last year, which requires all media outlets and journalists to register with the commission. The newspaper and many other domestic and foreign news organizations operating in Zimbabwe consider the law an unacceptable infringement of freedom of the press.

The publishers of The Daily News asked the Zimbabwe Supreme Court to declare parts of the media law unconstitutional. But the court ruled that the publishers had to register with the commission, before they could bring any complaint.

When the newspaper then tried to register, the commission turned down the application, in part because, it said, The Daily News had been operating illegally.

The chairman of the commission, Tafataona Mahoso, said it will appeal Friday's administrative court decision to the Supreme Court.