Mugabe regime threatens more papers with closure

Daily News: website switched to South Africa

Robert Mugabe’s Government in Zimbabwe is threatening more newspapers after it forced the closure of the independent Daily News.

While the Daily News is preparing for a legal challenge on 16 October to the Media and Information Commission’s refusal to register it as a newspaper, two other titles have been warned they could be shut down.

Sunday newspaper, The Standard and the weekly Zimbabwean Independent have been told they are being investigated with a view to possible closure.

Last Sunday, The Standard quoted Tafataona Mahoso, head of the MIC, at an official event as saying: “Oh, you are from The Standard. We will be coming for you; we will be writing to you soon.”


At the same event, information minister Jonathan Moyo said: “Really, we should shut these papers down because they are trash, they injure our national interest.”

Moyo then went on to state that Studio 7, a Voice of America (VOA) news broadcasting station that beams to Zimbabwe from outside the country, “faces death”.

The International Press Institute has condemned the latest attempts to intimidate and harass the independent media in Zimbabwe. It said it is deeply concerned by the statements of Mahoso and Moyo because “they once again show the Government’s deep seated resentment of the independent media in Zimbabwe. “Moreover, it also reveals the Government’s continuing desire to close all newspapers which offer criticism and to stifle all forms of legitimate dissent in the country.”

Meanwhile, the Daily News has moved its website out of Zimbabwe to South Africa at daily-news.co.za and is hoping to run a limited news service.

Sources at the newspaper say they are determined to get the Daily News back on the streets “however long it takes”.

Daily News editor Nqobile Nyathi, writing in the South African Mail & Guardian, warned this week: “If the Government is allowed to get away with silencing the Daily News, what will stop it from moving on to the remaining inconvenient voices that are a thorn in its side? “And if that is allowed to happen, what hope will there be for a population that has largely been cowed into submission?” Five directors of the Daily News and 15 journalists have been charged with breaking Zimbabwe’s media laws.

Many journalists are in hiding. The occupation by police of the editorial offices of the Daily News in Harare and seizure of its computer equipment means an appeal launched by the newspaper for laptops so that it journalists can go on working is even more vital.

Anyone able to provide laptops can contact Press Gazette on 020 8565 4448 or by e-mail at pged@pressgazette.co.uk and we will pass on any offer to the Daily News.

By Jon Slattery

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