Banned Zimbabwean private daily, The Daily News, will for now remain on
the sidelines after a Media and Information Commission (MIC) committee
requested for “clarity on financial muscle and directors’ information”,
before reaching a decision on whether to grant the paper a licence
again, writes our correspondent.

The committee said it wants to know whether the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) have the financial capacity to run two papers. It also requested clarity on additional names of directors listed in the application.
ANZ are publishers of the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, which were shut down in 2003 for breaching the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The papers have since then been involved in a long struggle for permission to reopen.

In a statement, committee chairperson Chinondidyachii Mararike said the ANZ, represented by its lawyers and the acting chief executive officer, made representations before the committee.

"The committee, sitting as a quasi-judicial tribunal emphasised that its responsibility is to act lawfully, reasonably and in a fair manner," he said.

Mararike said the outcome of this process would largely depend on when the ANZ would furnish the committee with documents it had been asked for.

"Meanwhile, the committee would like to reiterate that we are assessing the evidence submitted to us by ANZ after which we will make an appropriate ruling in accordance with the law," he said.

Both the Daily News and Daily News On Sunday were banned on September 12 when the Supreme Court ruled that they were operating outside the law by refusing to register with the MIC according to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Despite complying with the Supreme Court ruling, the MIC has on five times refused to grant the paper a licence. Ensuing High court rulings forced the government to dissolve the MIC board chaired by Tafataona Mahoso and replaced it with Mararike.

There is widespread skepticism that the new MIC will allow the paper back on the streets in the current political crisis. Mugabe has often accused The Daily News of being a mouthpiece for the MDC.

Meanwhile, Mutare public prosecutor Malvern Musarurwa has declined to prosecute freelance journalist Sydney Saize whose trial on allegations of contravening AIPPA and Public Order and Security Act (POSA) was set to commence in the eastern border town on 22 April 2008.

Saize, who was arrested on January 18, 2006 and spent three nights in police cells, was facing two separate charges under AIPPA and POSA. In count one, Saize was being charged for contravening the now repealed Section 83 of AIPPA which criminalized the practice of journalism without accreditation.

Under POSA he was alleged to have communicated falsehoods. Allegations against him were that on January 18, 2006, Saize had falsely reported on Voice of America's Studio 7 that two teachers from Gomorefu Secondary School in Marange Communal Lands had been assaulted by ZANU PF youths, war veterans and the youth militia, commonly referred to as Green Bombers.

The state was to allege that this was false as the two had been assaulted by "some people" after scolding a local woman.

But in declining to prosecute, Musarurwa said the state did not have sufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution.