of The Daily News a Violent Blow To
The move by the
illegitimate regime Mugabe to shut down The Daily News
is not only a violent blow to freedom, but a confirmation of the lawlessness of
the regime which has proceeded to use the partisan Zimbabwe Republic Police to
shut down the operations of the ANZ without even bothering to obtain a court
order authorising the action. The move re-affirms the anti-democratic and
dictatorial instincts of the Mugabe regime and
provides further evidence of the regime’s disregard for human rights and the
rule of law. The Supreme Court ruling that the Daily News application on the
constitutionality of AIPPA cannot be heard until The Daily News has first
registered with the Media Commission does not empower the state to close down
the paper. The procedures provided in the law for dealing with an unregistered
newspaper should be complied with. Resort to extra legal self help measures by
the regime only serves to underline the regime’s contempt for the rule of law
and due process.
Over the last
few years, The Daily News has played a crucial role in keeping the flickering
flame of democracy alive in Zimbabwe. Its honest and courageous
news reports in the face of state persecution, including the bombing of its
printing press, the incessant arrest of its journalists and the banning of the
paper in many parts of Zimbabwe by militias and rogue war
veterans endeared it to the long suffering people of
press has, in the past three years been forced to operate under exceptionally
difficult circumstances. It has faced threats not only from Zanu PF thugs and members of the security forces but also
the draconian laws passed by the regime.
continues to trample on all the rights and freedoms of Zimbabweans with
impunity. Sadly there are some nations and international organizations that
continue to voice support for this violent regime and thus giving it the
determination to continue repressing the people.
In light of
this anti-democratic move, those calling for
Zimbabwe’s suspension from the
Commonwealth to be lifted and for other punitive measures to be rescinded must
now think again. It is morally reprehensible and woefully misguided to
rehabilitate the Mugabe regime into the community of
nations. In the light of severe assault on the freedoms of the people to receive
information and to express themselves through an independent daily paper, it is
time that we all stood up to defend our rights. In these circumstances we call
upon the international community to stringently enforce the existing measures
against those elements of the rogue regime which are responsible for the anarchy
prevailing in the country. We further demand that those who are responsible for
this latest attack on our freedoms be included in the list of those targeted for
travel bans and related measures. We find it astonishing that the Chairman of
the Media Commission, who is supposed to be impartial in the administration of
the draconian AIPPA is himself behaving in such a
despicably partisan manner. It is clear that, it is impossible for The Daily
News to receive fair and impartial treatment from a man who is displaying crass and vindictive
bias against The Daily News.
We the people
of Zimbabwe will not sit back and allow
the regime to strip us of our freedoms. We will do everything in our power to
ensure that the Daily News is allowed to operate again. In the meantime, we call
upon all Zimbabweans to defend their freedoms of expression and information by
starting a consumer boycott of all state newspapers, such as The Herald, The
Sunday Mail, The Chronicle, and The Sunday News. The closure of the Daily News
is clearly calculated to protect these state newspapers and to deny the people
access to the truth by forcing them to be subjected to the endless propaganda
and falsehoods published by the state newspapers. We appeal to all freedom loving advertisers
and readers of newspapers to support the consumer boycott with immediate effect.
It is our very freedoms, our right to information, our
right to the truth which it is challenged. If we allow this fatal blow on our
freedoms to pass, the n we would be surrendering to tyranny and we would thereby
lose our sovereignty as a people. God Forbid!
for Information and Publicity.
Outrage at Zimbabwe paper
There has been widespread condemnation at Zimbabwe's decision
to shut down the country's only independent newspaper.
The paper insists part of the media law
Media groups criticised the closure of the Daily
News, while the Commonwealth warned it could prompt tougher action against
President Robert Mugabe's government.
Police closed down the offices of the private
publication on Friday, after a court ruled the day before that it was operating
The paper's editor Francis Mdlongwa told the BBC they
would comply with the Supreme Court order, but would still challenge media laws.
The ruling was made because the paper had failed to
register with the state Media and Information Commission (MIC), under new media
laws introduced after Mr Mugabe's re-election last year.
In Zimbabwe, the National Editors' Forum said the
decision was a sign of desperation by the Zimbabwe Government, which is trying
to tackle a severe economic crisis.
A London-based spokesman for the 54-nation
Commonwealth called the paper's closure "a major attack on the freedom of the
The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) said: "The closure robs the country of one of the few
alternative voices in an increasingly restricted space where Zimbabweans can
freely express themselves."
Staff were ordered out of the newspaper's building in
the capital, Harare, on Friday evening.
About 20 police officers - some armed with rifles -
arrived at the Daily News' office in central Harare, one of newspaper's
reporters told AFP news agency.
Correspondents say it is not clear if the closure is
intended to be permanent.
The South African news agency, SAPA, reports that the
paper's owners are due to appear in court on Monday to face charges of running
an illegal newspaper.
But the agency, quoting lawyers, says the paper hopes
to be able to reopen through a loophole in the controversial press laws.
Mugabe signed the controversial law after
The BBC's Alistair Leithead, reporting from
neighbouring South Africa, said the Daily News was the only independent voice of
the people in Zimbabwe.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
said on Saturday that the paper played a crucial role in keeping democracy alive
It called on readers and advertisers to hit back with
a boycott of state-owned newspapers
But Media and Information Commission chairman
Tafataona Mahoso, speaking to Reuters news agency, said there was freedom of the
press in Zimbabwe.
"But there is no freedom to act as an outlaw," he
said, claiming that almost all other private newspapers which applied to the
commission were registered.
In January, Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan
Moyo accused the Daily News of deliberately flouting a properly constituted law
and therefore being disrespectful to the judiciary and the parliament.
But the publishers of the Daily News - the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) - said the MIC had refused to accredit the
journalists working for the newspaper.
More than a dozen journalists have been charged under
the media law, which President Mugabe signed soon after his re-election in 2002.
Among them were several Daily News reporters and a
correspondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper who was later deported.
Mugabe has final chance to redeem himself
September 13, 2003,
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President, is under increasing
crackdown on top government officials that grabbed farms under
controversial land reform programme.
This comes amidst reports
that half the cabinet distributed farms to
themselves, it's a challenge that
political analysts say could embarrass the
Mugabe would use this opportunity to explain what steps will be
the land grabbing officials.
He was laying to rest one of the country's
national heroes, as newspapers
reported how the land reform had gone wrong.
Some of the accused officials
were there, denying the
Analysts believe that this could be Mugabe's final
opportunity to redeem
In the mind of Mugabe
Sousa Jamba has mixed feelings about Brothers Under
the Skin, Christopher
Hope's attempt to understand tyrants
September 13, 2003
Brothers Under the Skin: Travels in
by Christopher Hope
280pp, Macmillan, £17.99
I was recently
with some friends in the bar of the Freedom Hotel in Mwanza,
second-largest city, on the shores of Lake Victoria. The news on
was that Robert Mugabe had just been given a standing ovation by
the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference in the
es Salaam. Over their bottles of Kilimanjaro beer, my friends
their admiration for the Zimbabwean president. To them, he was an
hero, a black man brave enough to stand up to a confederacy of
muzungus backed by America and Britain.
My friends, like the many
supporters of Mugabe throughout Africa, have no
time for arguments suggesting
their hero has not only feet of clay but hands
dripping with blood. To them,
all those opposed to him, including thousands
of black Zimbabweans, have been
duped by the west. In Africa, Zimbabwe is
becoming a highly emotive issue;
and Mugabe has managed, by appealing to
crude racial solidarity, to win many
hearts and minds.
Brothers Under the Skin is supposed to be a journey and
a meditation through
tyrannies around the world - including Mugabe's. The
underlying premise here
is that all dictatorships have similar traits. As
Hope describes his many
sojourns in Zimbabwe, he recounts his impressions of
the Soviet Union, East
Germany, the former Yugoslavia and Vietnam, stressing
their similarity to
Mugabe's reign of terror. Sadly, what promises to be
highly edifying and
enlightening juxtaposition from an obviously
knowledgeable and talented
writer ends up as a mishmash, albeit one with some
value. There is a
thinner, more vigorous book trying to get out of this
cobbled work, some of
which has already appeared in magazines and newspapers
in the west.
Many have wanted to know how Mugabe, the central subject of
the book, went
from being a universally acknowledged hero of the liberation
southern Africa to yet another African dictator. In his efforts
Mug-abe the dictator, Hope compares him with Hendrik Verwoerd, the
of apartheid. Hope, who is South African, spent his childhood
Johannesburg in a suburb where Dr Verwoerd had been his neighbour. I was
convinced by the comparison. Mugabe has increasingly proved to be
and thoroughly evil; yet there is so much sui generis about
Among the many theories explaining Mugabe's autocracy is that his
Ghanaian wife, Sally, a significant figure in her own right
liberation-movement circles, had served as a corrective to her
authoritarian tendencies. After her death, Mugabe married Grace
years his junior, and that is when the rot, it is argued,
were the shopping trips to Paris, the acquisition of expensive
blatant nepotism and corruption. Suddenly, Comrade Mugabe, the
Marxist, had turned into yet another African dictator, accompanied by
grasping, venal wife. Although Brothers Under the Skin tries to pry
Mugabe's background, stating that his father abandoned his mother when
was a child, and that he was then raised as a strict Catholic, it does
go much further.
In a particularly vivid episode, Hope meets an
elderly Ian Smith, the
Rhodesian leader now living next to the Cuban embassy.
berates Mugabe and reminisces about the good old days
when the country was
under his rule. Hope, quite rightly, dismisses Smith as
slightly deluded. Smith's fellow whites do not come out well
in this book;
they are shown to be myopic, bigoted, lazy and complacent.
While this might
be the case, it is worth noting that ordinary Zimbabweans
are not filled
with as much venom against their white compatriots as Mugabe
cohorts. Also, many of these whites are being received with open arms
neighbouring Zambia and Mozambique, which value their skills.
has been said about Mugabe's magnanimity in reaching out to the
community after independence, especially after he had been treated so
by the Smith regime. Could it be that, ever the astute politician, he
read the public's mood and concluded that a reconciliatory stance
the whites would help him to consolidate his hold on power? Mugabe
first to crush his black opponents who posed a greater threat to him.
was why he was unforgiving to the Zapu dissident followers of Joshua
who abounded in Matabeleland. Thousands of innocent civilians were
with the help of the notorious North Korean-trained Fifth
In a memorable chapter, Hope meets Enos Nkala, the main
Gukurahundi, as the ferocious campaign in Matabeleland came to
Hope finds Nkala dispirited, a born-again Christian, in his house
Bulawayo. Nkala is scathing about Mugabe and claims, among other
that the president had had cancer which has now gone to his brain. As
says, all these stories about Mugabe are difficult to verify because the
has become increasingly mysterious.
Mugabe has not always been
bad, and his achievements, which Brothers Under
the Skin does not mention,
were once significant. I can still remember when,
growing up as an Angolan
refugee in Zambia, Zimbabweans used to laugh at us
for being an impoverished
lot. We had to queue for cooking oil, mealie-meal,
soap and much else. Our
brothers to the south never had to suffer these
privations. The Zimbabwean
educational system was also highly impressive.
Zimbabwe was producing nurses,
doctors, engineers and other professionals.
What is truly sad about Mugabe's
eventual misrule is not only the
displacement of the white farmers but the
massive migration of black
professionals to South Africa, Britain and
Young, bright, black Zimbabweans are fleeing Mugabe's reign of
because he is only capable of dealing with an opposition through
means. This is, after all, the man who once boasted that he had
degrees in violence. And intimes of violence there are always men
carry it out - like the late Dr Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi who,
death, was the head of the notorious war veterans. Hope has a
devoted to the Polish-educated doctor, whose surgery in Harare
was at one
point turned into a torture chamber.
Despite its jerkiness,
Brothers Under the Skin is worth reading because of
the limpidity of Hope's
prose, and the solid insights into aspects of the
Mugabe regime. My friends
at the Freedom Hotel will certainly dismiss it as
a tirade from another
bitter white man. For many Africans, the Mugabe
phenomenon can be seen only
through the crude prism of race. I wish they
were more aware of recent east
African history. After all, there was once,
across the lake by which we
stood, another black hero. To the delight of
many, he made white men carry
him on a palanquin and threw out the Asians.
His name was Idi
Sousa Jamba's books include Patriots (Viking), an autobiographical
the Angolan civil war.
Banned Zim paper to fight back
13/09/2003 18:28 -
Harare - The owners of Zimbabwe's only independent daily
newspaper that was
closed down on Friday night are to appear in court on
Monday on charges of
"illegally" operating a newspaper.
also said they were hopeful that the critical independent
Daily News would be
able to resume business on the same day through a
loophole in the notorious
press law under which it was banned.
About 50 paramilitary police armed
with automatic rifles stormed into the
offices of the newspaper in central
Harare last night and drove out all
staff, telling them that the paper was
The previous day, the pro-government supreme court declared
that the Daily
News was "illegal" because its owner, locally based Associated
Zimbabwe, had not registered for a licence from the state-run
'Law is very clear'
"The law is very clear,"
said ANZ's lawyer, Mordecai Mahlangu. "Once they
have put in their
application for registration, they must be allowed to
operate. By Monday or
Tuesday they should be back in business."
Simply applying for a licence
was enough, he said. The ability to return to
work did not depend on being
granted a licence by the the media commission.
Staff at the newspaper
were being allowed back into the building to compile
the applications for a
licence to work as "a media company," he said.
In discussions this
morning, police had given assurance that staff would be
given access to the
building and to documents.
The application would be filed "first thing on
Mahlangu also said police told him that the company
would be appearing in
court on Monday on "criminal" charges of publishing a
It will be the first time since the controversial
"Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act" has been used to close
down a newspaper and
charge its owners since the law was introduced in March
Sweeping restrictions over the press
wields sweeping restrictions over the press, allowing the
media commission to stop journalists from working and to
newspapers and to seize their equipment at will.
It also makes it a crime
to publish "a falsehood," even if it is accidental.
It has been condemned
internationally as an instrument for Mugabe to stifle
his critics and to
prevent exposure of government abuse.
Observers said it had been a matter
of time before AIPPA was wielded against
the Daily News. Since it was founded
in 1999, it has constantly embarrassed
the regime with its comprehensive
coverage of corruption, state-driven
lawlessness and violent
Since then it has been bombed twice, editors and their staff
arrested, many of them also assaulted and tortured in police
thousands of copies of the newspaper have been illegally seized
burnt by ruling party mobs.
ANZ late last year lodged an
appeal with the supreme court to strike down
AIPPA, on the grounds that it
"blatantly" violated constitutional freedoms
of speech and
The supreme court was expected on Thursday to deliver
judgement on the
appeal. However, lawyers and newspaper figures were stunned
when the five
judges instead refused to deal with the constitutional issues,
and told the
newspaper to go and register first because its "hands are
"It was a sad reflection of the state of the supreme court,"
'It's a disgrace'
"When the court refuses to deal
with real, constitutional issues, and argues
instead about 'dirty hands,'
it's a disgrace."
ANZ faces a maximum penalty of a fine of Zimbabwe
dollars 300 000 or three
years in jail for "illegally" publishing the Daily
News. To apply for
registration with the media commission, it will have to
pay a deposit of
Zimbabwe dollars 20 000 ,and another Zimbabwe dollars 500
000 if its
application is accepted.
"That was a lot of money when the
law was passed 18 months ago, but it's not
much now," said Mahlangu.
Inflation since March 2002 then has seen the value
of the currency slump to
less than a quarter of its value.
Misrule, corruption and the collapse of
the rule of law under 79-year-old
Mugabe have reduced one of Africa's most
prosperous countries to the fastest
shrinking economy in the
The regime is also among 10 governments listed by the
Committee to Protect Journalists as the most hostile in the
world to press
In 1999 Mugabe commended army intelligence
offices who illegally arrested
two local journalists, Mark Chavunduka and
Rayo Choto and then tortured them
continually for three days.
Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2003 6:10 PM
Subject: Plastic bag footballs
Dear Family and Friends,
On a dusty siding near the main Marondera Railway
station, eight children were playing soccer this morning. On the surface this
was a very normal and innocent sight but when I pulled over to watch the game
for a couple of minutes I soon saw that, like everything else in Zimbabwe,
nothing is ever as it seems. The children ranged in age from about seven to
fourteen. All were wearing extremely tattered clothing, ragged trousers falling
apart at the seams, vests with huge holes at front and back and none were
wearing shoes. The football was not a ball at all but plastic bags wrapped
around each other and tied together with bits of raffia and red knitting wool.
The children danced and waved at me as I watched, showing off like crazy and I
waved back and smiled at their dirty, thin little faces, wishing they were
sitting in classrooms where they should have been. The game was taking place
when all these children should have been in school but none of them can attend
The third and final school term of the year started
in Zimbabwe this week and it has been utterly chaotic and left thousands of
children playing football unattended on dusty road sides. There is still no
money in the banks which has meant that parents have been unable to pay school
fees. In Zimbabwe, the country which Robert Mugabe promised would provide free
education for all by the year 2000, headmasters are instructed not to admit
children whose fees are unpaid. Almost across the board, whether government or
private, schools have raised their fees by almost 100% for this term which left
even more children not going back to school. Parents who had managed to pay
their fees then had the problem of actually getting their children to school.
There is still only black market fuel available and two days after schools had
opened, hundreds of children still waited for transport, sitting on their tin
trunks in the sun, looking into the dusty horizon, hoping for a
I have learned more lessons in the past three years
than in my entire life. One of these lessons is counting my blessings. There is
a saying which is: "There but for the grace of God go I." This saying has been
going backwards and forwards in my head as I've cycled to school with my eleven
year old son and four other children every day this week. I find myself as an
unofficial guardian to children whose parents, like me, simply cannot afford
black market petrol and so we ride together every day. Often I feel a bit like
the pied piper except that I'm never in front and it is quite touching as the
kids race ahead until they are almost out of sight and then they all stop and
wait for me to catch up.
One day this week we stopped to look at the most
exquisite little antelope footprints in the sand, made by a steenbuck in the
night. Seeing the spoor of wild animals in the dust used to be taken for
granted. Now it is a huge treat as bit by bit Zimbabwe's treasured wildlife
heritage is also being destroyed because of politics. In the last fortnight some
horrific blows were dealt to Zimbabwe's wildlife and tourism industry. A retired
Army Colonel took over the Lion and Cheetah Park outside Harare and forbade the
owners from removing any of the animals left abandoned there including 46 lions,
monkeys, elephants, giraffe, otters and jackals . Many of the animals are in
cages and completely unable to fend for themselves. 3000 school children used to
visit the centre a month for educational purposes. The government then announced
that all buffalo in wildlife conservancies and on private land must be shot in
order to try and stop the spread of foot and mouth disease. It has apparently
escaped their notice that across the country literally millions of kilometres of
fencing have been removed by government supporters grabbing land. Culling
buffalo has no chance whatsoever of stopping a disease being spread by cattle
who wander at will across a country without fences. The other serious blow came
with the news that a State farm which borders the world famous Hwange
National Park has been given to a Zanu PF governor to be used for hunting. This
farm is home to what is called The Presidential Herd of 500
Zimbabwe's children are playing in the dust with
plastic bag footballs and I cannot help but wondering what if any of Zimbabwe's
wild animals will be left for them to see when they grow up. As I finish this
letter news has just come in that police have closed down The Daily News
newspaper because they have not registered with the Zimbabwean government. The
Daily News were challenging the constitutionality of the repressive legislation
which dictates freedom of speech. We do not know if the closure will be
permanent. The Daily News has been a lone voice of hope for millions in
Zimbabwe. With its closure scores more people will be left without an income or
the ability to support their families. I am just one of those people and for now
am unable to comment further without anger, despair and tears. Until next week,
with love, cathy. Copyright cathy buckle 13th September 2003. http://africantears.netfirms.com
Zimbabwe's Independent Paper CEO Charged
13 Sep 2003, 19:40 UTC
Authorities in Zimbabwe
have charged the chief executive officer of The
Daily News newspaper of
operating an illegal company.
One day after the police ordered Zimbabwe's
only independent daily to stop
operating, Sam Siphepha Nkomo reported to the
police, where he was formally
charged with operating an unregistered
publishing house. Mr. Nkomo was
released, after recording a statement, but
ordered to appear in court
The charges stem from Thursday's
Supreme Court ruling, which said The Daily
News was operating illegally
because it had not registered under the
controversial Access to Information
and Privacy Act. The company argued that
some sections of the Act violated
press freedom and were unconstitutional,
but said it would comply with the
However, armed police moved into the paper's offices on
Friday, and ordered
all staffers out. Police guarded the building Saturday,
members inside only to collect personal belongings. It is not
clear when the
paper will be allowed to publish.
The Daily News had
the highest circulation of any newspaper in Zimbabwe. As
the country's only
independent daily newspaper, it also frequently published
President Robert Mugabe. The paper's printing presses were
blown up early in
2001, after the Information Ministry called it "a threat
The decision to shut The Daily News down has been widely
condemned by media
organizations in Zimbabwe as an attack on press freedom.
The local branch of
the Media Institute of Southern Africa said the closing
down of the paper
"robs the country of one of its few alternative
But the chairman of the Media Information Commission, Tafataona
dismissed the complaints. He told the Reuters news agency that "there
freedom of press in Zimbabwe, but no freedom to act as an outlaw."