February 5, 2004

Zimbabwe's independent daily shuts again

Journalists at Zimbabwe's independent daily newspaper left their offices again after the Supreme Court ruled it was a crime to work without a government license. The Daily News would not appear that Friday, the owners said. Production was halted after a meeting of executives and staff at the paper's Harare headquarters. The closure came even though police had not moved to shut the paper after the nation's highest court earlier that week threw out a constitutional challenge to the government's sweeping media laws. The law makes it illegal to work as a journalist or operate a media organization without official accreditation from the state Media and Information Commission. Breaking the law can lead to two years in jail without right to appeal.
Mutsau said the paper's journalists were planning to reapply for accreditation in line with the ruling. "Then we will see how it turns out," he said. Without regular sales and advertising revenues, the embattled paper was not expected to survive a new lengthy closure. The court ruling put journalists under the direct control of the government with penalties of a fine and imprisonment for infringements of laws enforced by the Information Ministry and the state-appointed media commission, said attorney Sternford Moyo, representing the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe. The Supreme Court rejected the association's contention that the government's media laws violated constitutional rights of free expression, he said. (AP)

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