NewsDay staff released as Zimbabwe celebrates launch of first independent daily newspaper in seven years

Two marketing staff for new Zimbabwe daily newspaper NewsDay have been released after briefly being locked up in Harare.

It seems to be an isolated glitch in what was otherwise a joyous occasion on Friday.

NewsDay is the first independent daily newspaper to be published in Zimbabwe, since the Daily News was closed down by Robert Mugabe in 2003.
The launch of the paper comes as a result of the power-sharing agreement between Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangiraiand and the appointment of a media commission which a week ago awarded four newspaper licences.
NewsDay reports that four of its staff were charged with disrupting traffic as the launch of the paper prompted joyous scenes on Friday:

“Scores of excited people had mobbed the NewsDay distribution van in Mbare, where Alpha Media Holdings (the parent company of NewsDay) marketing staff was distributing flyers, T-shirts and copies.
“Motorists too, stopped to join in the impromptu celebrations causing a traffic jam that attracted the attention of the police.
“Before they knew it, the Alpha Media Holdings staff, clad in their colourful NewsDay T-shirts were thrown into the holding perimeter fence at the police station.”

The new paper is run by Alpha Media Holdings, which already has two weekly newspapers and is run by Trevor Ncube.

The launch if the new paper is a rare piece of good news for journalists in Zimbabwe which, under Mugabe, has become a byword for repression of the press.

In December 2008 Press Gazette interviewed secretary general of the Zimbabwean Union of Journalists Foster Dongozi who told us that there are around 3,000 journalists working in Zimbabwe.

He spoke not just of the repression, but the crippling poverty Zimabwean journalists work under.

He said:

“We hope our situation will normalise, we are a proud people – we want to get down to some serious work.

“Zimbabwe is a special country and we have hope that things will normalise and we will look back on these problems and ask ourselves what we were thinking. What was going on? How did we allow it to happen?”

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