Civic society groups and media organisations in Zimbabwe have spoken of
how the country has suffered from a lack of information after the
closure of The Daily News and they have all called for its return,
writes Torby Muturikwa.

Journalists and lawyers gathered in Harare recently to mark the fourth year of the closure of the two titles published by the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), The Daily News and Daily News On Sunday.

Both papers were closed by the government in September 2003 in terms of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Misa Zimbabwe legal officer Wilbert Mandinde, said: "We still insist that AIPPA is bad law. Our position remains the same and clear that we do not need statutory regulation. This law has brought misery to Zimbabweans.

"Accreditation and registration which is conditional is unwarranted and an affront to freedom of expression. Today we make an appeal to government to repeal AIPPA and bring back The Daily News.”

He said the government is responsible for creating the paucity of information, from which it has benefited.

Mandinde said: "Four years on as of this day Tuesday, 11 September 2007, the matter is still pending before the courts as the ANZ continues with its fight to be duly registered and licenced to resume publication as required under the restrictive AIPPA in what can easily pass as the longest unresolved court cases in Zimbabwe's judicial history.

"Many a reader of the popular Daily News looks back with nostalgia to the pulsating reportage by its dedicated editorial team as they fulfilled their journalistic roles as the thermometers and stethoscopes of the country's daily socio-economic, political and cultural temperature and pulse."

Andrew Moyse, director of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) said recent pronouncements by the government that it would appoint an independent commission to deal with the registration of The Daily News, was a stage act.

Moyse said:" It's all a stage act. The government wants to be seen as complying with the SADC principles and guidelines on democratic elections. The minister (of information) was given 30 days and they have already elapsed."

He said the absence of The Daily News has killed the quality of journalism as demonstrated by shoddy stories with poor grammar.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said they had kept their heads up in hope that The Daily News will still re-appear.

"The fight is still on. We are going into an election and yet we don't have an independent daily paper. Our heads are still up and we still believe The Daily News will come back," said ZLHR's Dzimbahwe Chimbga.

Since its closure on September 12 2003 when armed Police stormed into the offices of the ANZ, The Daily News has recorded 42 cases with both The High Court and The Supreme Court. The paper has since lost its equipment worth millions of rands and has no offices after the remaining staff were evicted in central Harare early this year.