Attacks on the Press in 2003 - Zimbabwe
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||February 2004|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2003 - Zimbabwe, February 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c566c423.html [accessed 14 October 2015]|
Despite widespread international criticism of Zimbabwe's appalling human rights record, President Robert Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) continued to silence voices of dissent in 2003. During the last four years, the government has pursued a relentless crackdown on the private press through harassment, censorship, and restrictive legislation. 2003 saw the most significant blow to press freedom yet, with authorities shuttering the Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily and one of the most persistent critics of the Mugabe regime.
On September 11, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court declared that the Daily News was violating provisions of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Under AIPPA, all media companies are required to register with the Media and Information Commission (MIC). Individual journalists must also be accredited by the commission, whose members are appointed by the information and publicity minister in consultation with the president. When the registration law took effect, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns the Daily News, decided not to register the newspaper and challenged the legislation in court as unconstitutional. In a peculiar turn of legal reasoning, the court said that because ANZ had not registered with the commission, it was "operating outside the law," and that the court would only hear the company's constitutional challenge once it had registered.
On September 12, police raided the newspaper's offices and ordered all journalists to leave the building, using the Supreme Court's declaration as a pretext. On September 15, the Daily News filed an application to register with the MIC. The following day, security agents raided the newspaper's offices again, confiscating computers and equipment. The agents did not have a warrant, and the Daily News legal adviser said the police were acting illegally since the newspaper had not been convicted of any offense. The High Court ruled on September 18 that the newspaper could resume publishing, and staff began work on a new edition. Nevertheless, police closed the paper's offices the same day.
The following months saw frenetic legal maneuvering by both the government and the ANZ, but authorities demonstrated a singular determination to keep the paper off the market. Though Administrative Court judges twice ordered the MIC to register the Daily News and allow the paper to reopen, as soon as journalists went back to work, police closed the offices. Meanwhile, authorities arrested ANZ's directors in September and October and charged them with publishing a newspaper without a license. Police also began charging Daily News journalists for practicing journalism without accreditation. The journalists had applied for accreditation earlier in the year but were denied on the basis that they were working for an unregistered publication. Throughout 2003, Daily News reporters were denied access to Parliament and State House press briefings. At year's end, 16 journalists had been charged, and their cases were pending.
ZANU-PF officials claimed that the government was not meddling in the judicial proceedings. But with the government frequently accusing the independent press of serving "Western" interests, the authorities were clearly satisfied with the Daily News' closure, said several sources. In early October, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo turned his customary invective against two other publications, The Standard and The Independent, calling them "running dogs of imperialism." Local reports said the head of the MIC later warned the two papers they were being investigated, though they are both registered.
The closure of the Daily News, which has been unremittingly harassed since its inception in 1999, left an information vacuum in Zimbabwe. The paper was distributed throughout the country – Zimbabwean journalists estimate that its readership was close to 1 million – and it was most citizens' only consistent independent source for news. Aside from shortwave broadcasts from abroad and independent weeklies, whose circulation is mainly confined to urban areas, most Zimbabweans are left to get their information from government media such as The Herald (the country's only remaining daily) and pro-ZANU-PF publications.
In December, while the Zimbabwean government was suspended from the Commonwealth meeting of the heads of former British colonies in Nigeria, an edition of the Daily News was distributed on Nigerian streets during the summit. The special edition, which featured photos of state oppression of the Zimbabwean opposition and media and was headlined, "The Voices Mugabe Wants to Silence," (See page 13.) was tucked inside the popular Nigerian daily ThisDay. After the paper's closure, Daily News staffers also launched an Internet version of the paper from South Africa and managed to publish short editions that appeared in South Africa's Mail and Guardian and the South African edition of ThisDay, which was distributed in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.
International rights groups have repeatedly pressured South Africa to take a more active role in resolving the political and human rights crisis in Zimbabwe, and South African President Thabo Mbeki has come under fire in both the Zimbabwean and South African media for his seemingly ineffective policy of "quiet diplomacy" toward his neighbor. In May, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that the South African government had rejected a formal request from Zimbabwean Information Minister Moyo to curb the "relentless demonization" of Mugabe in the South African media. A spokesperson for Mbeki told AFP, "South Africa has laws that govern the freedom of the press and we have no intention of interfering with that." However, South African authorities greeted the closing of the Daily News with silence.
In February 2003, Mbeki told the South African Broadcasting Corporation that he had recently discussed with Zimbabwean officials "complaints raised about ... legislation passed that has an impact on the press." Mbeki said that the Zimbabwean government had agreed to amend the legislation, and the following month, Moyo confirmed this. "We are amending [AIPPA] because we realize at the time we enacted it the temperatures were very high, but when the storm has gone you sit back and rationalize," Moyo claimed. AIPPA was passed soon after Mugabe's March 2002 election victory, which was marred by allegations of fraud and violent voter intimidation. Within a year of AIPPA's enactment, Zimbabwean authorities had charged more than a dozen journalists under its provisions and those of the Public Order and Security Act.
In May, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ruled that Section 80 of AIPPA, which stipulated that it was an "abuse of journalistic privilege" to publish false information whether intentionally or not, violated the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. The ruling came on a challenge filed by former Daily News Editor-in-Chief Geoff Nyarota and former reporter Lloyd Mudiwa. Both were charged under Section 80 in 2002 after the Daily News ran a story alleging that pro-government militia members had beheaded an opposition supporter. The story turned out to be false, and the newspaper published an apology. While press freedom advocates celebrated the ruling, the government feigned indifference, reminding journalists that the legislation was being amended anyway.
When Parliament finally passed the amended version of AIPPA in June 2003, journalists said the changes only strengthened the government's power over the press. On the upside, Section 80 was changed to stipulate that it is an offense to "intentionally" or "recklessly" publish false information, putting the burden on the government to prove the falsification was intentional. But the amended law still carried harsh criminal penalties for other vaguely defined offenses, such as publishing information that threatens the "economic interests of the state" and "public morality." The revised law also included under its definition of mass media products "the total data, or part of the data of any electronically transmitted material." Journalists said that this addition could include e-mails or Web-based content, indicating the government's desire to restrict online dissent.
Legalities have not prevented Zimbabwean authorities from finding more direct ways of harassing the press. The most serious attack in 2003 was on Andrew Meldrum, the Zimbabwe correspondent for the U.K-based Guardian, who had lived and worked in Zimbabwe for 23 years. Meldrum had written about Zimbabwe's deteriorating political and economic climate and police brutality. In early May, Meldrum was forced into hiding when security agents began visiting his house at night. Soon after, he was called to the Immigration Department, where his passport and residence permit were confiscated. Meldrum was later served with a deportation order and told to leave the country. The deportation order, signed by Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mahadi, called Meldrum "an undesirable inhabitant" of Zimbabwe but said it was not in the public interest to disclose why.
Although Meldrum's lawyer obtained a High Court stay against the deportation, which she presented to officials at the airport, authorities ignored the ruling and forced Meldrum onto a plane bound for London. Meldrum, a U.S. citizen, was the last foreign reporter based in Zimbabwe.
Authorities were particularly sensitive to coverage of political unrest and the country's severe economic problems. Police arrested and beat Daily News photographer Philimon Bulawayo in March for covering mass demonstrations organized by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Police had also beaten Bulawayo in February, when he attempted to photograph long food lines in Harare, a common sight countrywide that partly stems from the government's land-reform policies and economic mismanagement. While police arrested journalists who reported on pro-democracy rallies, ZANU-PF supporters attacked vendors who sold critical newspapers and destroyed all their copies.
Though private broadcasters have been legally allowed to operate in Zimbabwe since 2000, authorities have used strict legislation to prevent any from obtaining a license. In September, the Supreme Court struck down the part of the Broadcasting Services Act that made the information and publicity minister the ultimate authority in granting broadcasting licenses. The court said this provision was unconstitutional because it undermined the independence of the authority created to issue broadcast licenses. Zimbabwean journalists, however, said they believe that the ruling will have little immediate impact, and there was no movement on any private license applications at year's end.
Critical content from independent radio stations based abroad, which use shortwave transmitters to broadcast into Zimbabwe, has infuriated the government. These stations include the London-based SW Radio Africa, the U.S.-based Voice of America's "Studio 7," and the Voice of the People (VOP), which broadcasts into Zimbabwe from Madagascar using a Radio Netherlands transmitter. Zimbabwean authorities have tried to jam the signal of SW Radio Africa and have banned six staff members – all Zimbabwean expatriates living in London – from returning to Zimbabwe. In August 2002, unidentified men bombed the offices of the VOP in Harare. Journalists who report for these stations in Zimbabwe are frequently arrested and harassed.
In December, the government announced ambitious plans to counter foreign broadcasters by setting up a new 24-hour shortwave station. Also in December, the pro-government Daily Mirror reported that the government planned to purchase US$5 million worth of equipment to monitor cyberspace, apparently confirming earlier suspicions about the amendment to AIPPA regarding electronic text as a mass media product. Most journalists doubted that the government could follow through on these plans, given Zimbabwe's shattered economy and poorly valued currency.
Toward the end of 2003, Moyo announced plans to establish a network of community radio stations that would mainly relay agricultural information in local languages to farmers. Though authorities have opposed all previous attempts to set up community broadcasters, state media immediately began touting the benefits of the proposed network. Media rights advocates welcomed the initiative but were skeptical that the stations would have any independence from the government.
2003 Documented Cases – Zimbabwe
JANUARY 10, 2003
Iden Wetherell, The Independent
Vincent Kahiya, The Independent
Dumisani Muleya, The Independent
HARASSED, LEGAL ACTION
Wetherell, managing editor of the Harare-based independent weekly The Independent, News Editor Kahiya, and reporter Muleya, were arrested following the publication of a story in the January 9 edition of The Independent co-authored by Muleya alleging that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had commandeered an Air Zimbabwe plane for his trip to East Asia, thereby stranding passengers who were slated to fly on the plane between Harare and London. The piece also quoted a source saying that the plane carried containers for storage of goods Mugabe might acquire on his trip.
Muleya said that during interrogation by police, he was asked to reveal the story's sources but refused. The three journalists were charged with criminal defamation. On Monday, January 12, they were released on 20,000 Zimbabwean Dollars (US$25) bail each after appearing in court. Their next court hearing is scheduled for January 29.
Itai Dzamara, a reporter with the weekly who co-authored the piece with Muleya, and the paper's general manager, Raphael Khumalo, were arrested on January 14 after presenting themselves to police at Harare Central Police Station. Both were summoned to appear at the station for questioning in connection with the January 9 report.
Dzamara was charged with criminal defamation before being released that afternoon. Khumalo was released the same day without charge. Dzamara will likely appear with three other Independent journalists in court on January 29.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the report as "blasphemous," saying it was a "deliberate falsehood calculated to bring the office of the president into disrepute," the BBC reported.
Meanwhile, on January 13, the state-owned daily The Herald published an open letter from Media and Information Commission (MIC) head Tafataona Mahoso to Wetherell accusing The Independent of racism for publishing a letter to the editor claiming that Zimbabweans are stupid and comparing them to wild animals. Mahoso concluded the letter by writing, "All publishers and editors in Zimbabwe should consider this MIC statement as a warning to them as well and not just to the Zimbabwe Independent."
The Independent editor disputed the claim that the column's remarks were racist, saying the letter was a legitimate part of the national discourse on the country's political and economic crisis. Wetherell said he believes that the MIC could use the racism charge as a pretext to deny registration to the publication or accreditation to its journalists.
JANUARY 28, 2003
Tsvangirayi Mukawazhi, Daily News, The Associated Press
Dina Kraft, The Associated Press
Jason Beaubien, National Public Radio
Mukawazhi, chief photographer for the independent Daily News and a freelancer for The Associated Press (AP); Kraft, a Johannesburg-based journalist for the AP; and Beaubien, a Johannesburg-based correspondent for National Public Radio, were arrested by Zimbabwean police after visiting the Grain Marketing Board's (GMB) depot, a food distribution center in Bulawayo. Charles Mpofu, an opposition Movement for Democratic Change councilor in Bulawayo who was guiding the journalists around the city, was also detained, the Daily News reported.
The journalists were accused of unlawful entry and of taking photographs in a restricted security area. They were told that they were not permitted to take photographs of the silos containing maize grain, Beaubien said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
Kraft and Beaubien had been issued temporary accreditation to practice journalism in Zimbabwe. They said that depot security guards had allowed the journalists into the GMB site. The journalists were detained for seven hours and questioned. They were released after police photocopied their notebooks and passports.
FEBRUARY 19, 2003
Philimon Bulawayo, Daily News
Bulawayo, a photographer for the independent Daily News, was assaulted by soldiers monitoring lines at a supermarket in the capital, Harare. Bulawayo was preparing to take pictures of the long lines of people waiting to collect food when two soldiers approached him and began to manhandle him.
The soldiers handed Bulawayo over to nearby police, who handcuffed the photographer and took him to the local police station. Officers beat the journalist, seized his camera, and exposed his film. Police then took down the journalist's personal information and warned him not to visit any other places where people would be waiting for food. When contacted by CPJ, Daily News staffers said Bulawayo's injuries were not severe.
MARCH 18, 2003
Philimon Bulawayo, Daily News
Bulawayo, a photographer for the private Daily News, was arrested in the morning by police while covering a demonstration in a suburb of the capital, Harare. He was taken to Glen View Police Station and held without charge, and police severely beat him in his cell.
At around noon the same day, Gugulethu Moyo, legal adviser and corporate affairs director for the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), which publishes the Daily News, went to the station to try to secure Bulawayo's release. Moyo was assaulted outside the building by Jocelyn Chiwenga, the wife of army officer Lt. Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, and then arrested by police.
Sources at the Daily News said they did not know what prompted Chiwenga to attack Moyo. But in a first-person account of the incident published later in the newspaper, Moyo said that Chiwenga was infuriated when she learned that he worked for the ANZ and accused the compnay of promoting British interests and publishing lies about Zimbabwe.
Police denied both Bulawayo and Moyo medical treatment for their injuries and later transferred them to Harare Central Police Station. The two men were freed without charge on March 20 following a High Court order for their release. They were immediately taken to the hospital for treatment. Daily News journalists say that Bulawayo and Moyo have had trouble walking since they were assaulted.
MARCH 19 2003
Stanley Karombo, freelance
IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION
Karombo, a Zimbabwean freelance journalist, was arrested in the eastern town of Mutare and charged with "practicing journalism without a license" under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Karombo had gone to the local police station with a colleague from the private Daily Mirror who was conducting an interview at the station. During the interview, Karombo stepped into the station's hallway to receive a telephone call from SW Radio Africa, an independent, Zimbabwean-run shortwave radio station based in London, England. Officers overheard Karombo talking about an antigovernment strike organized by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on March 18-19. Local sources said Karombo has filed stories for SW Radio Africa in the past.
Police approached Karomba and began asking why he was talking about the strike. They then seized his phone and noticed that it had the numbers of MDC officials in its memory. Police accused Karombo of being an MDC supporter, arrested him, and took him to his home to search it. When police found stories that Karombo had filed, they demanded his accreditation papers, which he did not have.
Karombo was jailed until March 24, when he was released on bail of around US$6, the local chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa reported. Karombo said that during his detention, he was beaten and denied access to his lawyer. His trial is pending. On May 20, a Mutare court removed Karombo from remand pending the outcome of a Supreme Court decision on a constitutional challenge to the AIPPA, under which he was charged.
MAY 7, 2003
Posted: October 20, 2004
Andrew Meldrum, The Guardian
A group of immigration officers visited the home of Meldrum, Zimbabwe correspondent for the London-based Guardian newspaper, at about 7:15 p.m. and demanded to speak with the journalist. The men would not identify themselves or reveal why the journalist needed to be questioned. Though his wife informed the officers that Meldrum was not home, they refused to leave.
When Meldrum's lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and questioned the men, they left, promising to return with reinforcements. Later that night, one of the vehicles that had brought the officers earlier on stopped in front of Meldrum's house, but no one exited the car.
On May 8, Mtetwa visited the Department of Immigration in the capital, Harare, to ask about the men's visit. Officials confirmed that they wanted to speak to Meldrum but would not say why. Mtetwa told CPJ that unidentified individuals followed her after she left work the same day.
Mtetwa told the immigration department that Meldrum was willing to appear at the immigration offices during regular daytime hours provided that proper legal procedure was followed and he was informed as to what the questioning was about.
MAY 13, 2003
Posted: October 20, 2004
Andrew Meldrum, The Guardian
Meldrum, Zimbabwe correspondent for the London-based Guardian newspaper, attended a meeting at the Department of Immigration during which his passport and residence permit were confiscated. Officials told him that his permit only allowed him to report on economics and tourism. Meldrum had recently filed stories about the deteriorating political and economic climate in Zimbabwe and police brutality. But Meldrum told CPJ that his residence permit does not include any conditions on his reporting.
On May 16, Meldrum returned to the Department of Immigration at 10:00 a.m. for a scheduled meeting with officials, where he was informed he had to leave the country. The deportation order, signed by Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mahadi, called Meldrum "an undesirable inhabitant" of Zimbabwe but said it was not in the public interest to disclose why, The Associated Press reported.
Immediately after the meeting, while he was speaking to journalists outside the immigration offices, police manhandled Meldrum, pushed him into an unmarked car, and drove him directly to the Harare Airport, local sources told CPJ.
The same day, Mtetwa obtained a High Court stay against the journalist's deportation and presented it to officials at the airport. The court ordered that Meldrum be allowed to attend a hearing on his deportation on that day. However, officials did not produce the journalist.
According to the Guardian, in the evening, immigration officers at the airport ran away from Mtetwa to avoid being served with a second court order demanding Meldrum's immediate release and forbidding his deportation. Meldrum was barred contact with anyone while he was in custody at the airport.
Officials at Harare Airport later forced Meldrum onto a London-bound Air Zimbabwe flight, ignoring the High Court orders staying the reporter's deportation and instructing authorities to produce Meldrum for a court hearing on his expulsion. He arrived in London the next day.
Mtetwa is currently fighting a court battle to have Meldrum returned to the country at the state's expense, and to see that Immigration Department officials are charged for violating the court orders.
On June 11, Dolores Cortes Meldrum, Andrew's wife, fled the country after being summoned to the Immigration Department. Cortes Meldrum had recently had her residency permit revoked despite the fact that her permit had been issued to her independently of her husband. Mtetwa, also serving as her lawyer, said that Cortes Meldrum decided to flee the country for fear of being forcibly deported like her husband.
JUNE 2, 2003
Shorai Katiwa, Voice of the People
Martin Chimenya, Voice of the People
Voice of the People
Katiwa and Chimenya, journalists for Voice of the People (VOP), a private news production company, were assaulted by supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party while covering student protests during a week of demonstrations sponsored by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The journalists approached a group of men on the street who they thought were students. They turned out to be ZANU-PF supporters who immediately detained the reporters and began to search them. When the ZANU-PF supporters found the business cards of opposition MPs in the journalists' wallets, the men accused Katiwa and Chimenya of supporting the protests, then beat them and confiscated their mobile phones and minidisk recorders.
Zimbabwean sources said Katiwa and Chimenya were taken to a local police station and then to ZANU-PF headquarters, where they were further assaulted. Police, who were called by the ruling-party supporters, later forced the journalists to take them to the home of VOP coordinator John Masuku and seized administrative files and the computer the journalists use to file their stories. The next day, the computer and files were returned to the journalists. Katiwa's and Chimenya's phones and recorders were not returned.
JUNE 6, 2003
Police raided the offices and home of Edwina and Newton Spicer, of Spicer Productions, an independent documentary production company. Though the officers did not have a warrant, they seized equipment belonging to the production company and attacked several employees. The Spicers were out of the country on vacation at the time of the raid.
On June 9, police returned to the Spicers' offices and home, this time bearing a warrant allowing them to search for "subversive materials." Police seized video cameras and tapes. Sources in the capital, Harare, said police conducted themselves professionally on this occasion and that no employees were harassed.
The Spicers have produced numerous documentaries about Zimbabwe and the ongoing political and economic crisis in the country. Journalists in Harare said the police might have raided the Spicers' offices because they suspect the production company of providing recent news footage of the violent suppression of mass protests to international broadcasters.
AUGUST 8, 2003
Flata Kavinga, The Midlands Observer
A group of young men brutally assaulted Kavinga, a reporter for the English-language weekly The Midlands Observer. According to local sources, six men – at least two of them members of the ruling ZANU-PF party – approached the reporter outside a nightclub in Kwekwe, a city in the central part of the country. The men accused The Midlands Observer of supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and said that Kavinga must be pro-MDC because his T-shirt bore the logo of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and read: "Free my voice – Free the airways."
After dragging Kavinga into an alley behind the club, the assailants attacked the journalist, beating him with planks of wood and injuring his head and body. Kavinga's friends later brought him to a hospital. The journalist's colleagues told CPJ that he went into hiding after the assault in order to avoid further reprisal.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2003
Updated: October 20, 2004
Zimbabwean authorities shuttered the offices of the Harare-based Daily News, the country's only independent daily.
In the evening, around 20 police officers entered the building that houses the Daily News' offices and ordered the paper's staff to leave. Police detained three staff members, including the circulation manager, and editor Nqobile Nyathi was told to report to Harare's main police station, Agence France-Presse reported.
The newspaper's closure followed a September 11 Supreme Court declaration that the Daily News was operating illegally under provisions of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). Under AIPPA, all media companies are required to register with the Media and Information Commission (MIC), created by the act, in order to operate. Individual journalists must also be accredited by the MIC to practice. The minister of communications appoints the commission's board in consultation with the president.
The registration application for media companies forces them to disclose details such as their business plans and the curricula vitae and political affiliations of their directors, Zimbabwean journalists said.
Rather than registering with the MIC, the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns the Daily News, challenged the legislation as unconstitutional.
On September 11, Supreme Court Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said that because ANZ had not registered with the commission, it was "operating outside the law," and that the court would only hear the company's constitutional challenge once it had "submitted itself to the law" by registering.
On September 15, the Daily News filed an application to register with the commission and also sought an urgent ruling from the High Court permitting the paper to continue publishing while its application was being considered. According to the newspaper's legal adviser and ANZ corporate affairs director, Gugulethu Moyo, the application procedure under AIPPA stipulates that media institutions should be allowed to continue operations while approval of their registration is pending. Authorities disputed this claim, local sources told CPJ, saying the provision only held for the transition period of registration, which ended on December 31, 2002.
Moreover, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo (no relation to Gugulethu Moyo) told state television that the Daily News' application for registration was incomplete. Sources at the paper said they were informed that they had failed to include a code of ethics with the application.
On September 16, detectives, security agents, armed paramilitary members, and riot police raided the Daily News' offices and seized computers and other equipment belonging to the newspaper.
Gugulethu Moyo said that police produced no warrant or court order authorizing the seizure and argued that police were pre-empting the law since the newspaper had not been convicted of any offense.
On September 17, police arrested about 100 pro-democracy activists who had demonstrated in the streets of Harare to protest the government's crackdown on the Daily News and the country's worsening political and economic situation.
On September 18, Zimbabwe's High Court ruled to allow the Daily News to resume publishing after being closed for seven days. A High Court judge also ordered authorities to immediately return computers and other equipment confiscated by the police during the September 16 raid.
The Daily News had asked the High Court to rule that the seizure of its equipment was illegal. Attorneys for the newspaper also argued that the Daily News was entitled under media laws to reopen until its registration application with the state media commission is completed.
Journalists at the Daily News said that immediately after the ruling, they returned to their offices and began work on a new edition for the following day. However, in the evening, police again occupied the offices and prevented the journalists from working. The move defied the High Court ruling allowing the newspaper to reopen and directing police to return confiscated equipment. The government appealed the High Court ruling on September 19.
Also on September 19, in a unanimous board decision, the MIC rejected the Daily News' application for registration. According to the state-owned Herald, the MIC argued that ANZ could not be registered because it had been publishing illegally for eight-and-a-half months (since the end of the transitional period-December 31, 2002). The MIC referred to the September 11 Supreme Court declaration, which said that the company need not have submitted a registration application in order to comply with the law; it only had to stop publishing while its constitutional challenge was pending.
The MIC said that the ANZ had illegally employed unaccredited journalists, though journalists at the Daily News said they were refused accreditation on the grounds that they were working for an unregistered publication. The MIC said further that the ANZ had failed to provide the commission with a free copy of every edition of its papers, as is required under AIPPA.
The ANZ appealed the MIC decision and on October 2 was granted an urgent hearing scheduled for October 16. According to the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, the company is arguing that the MIC's decisions are null and void because the commission's members were not properly nominated. Section 40 of AIPPA stipulates that an association of journalists or media houses must nominate at least three of the MIC's board members, but none of the commission's current board members were so nominated.
On October 1, however, a High Court judge had denied an ANZ application seeking the return of equipment seized from the Daily News' offices by police.
Meanwhile, on September 25, police began summoning and charging Daily News journalists who appear on a list of 45 journalists working for the paper that the ANZ had submitted to the MIC along with its registration application. The journalists are being charged with violating Section 83 of AIPPA by practicing journalism without accreditation.
Sources at the Daily News said the newspaper is losing about 38 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$46,000) each day it does not publish.
On September 22, four ANZ directors-ANZ CEO Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, Michael Stuart Mattinson, Brian Mutsau, and Rachel Kuapara-were arrested and charged with violating the AIPPA. They were released later that day.
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, if convicted, the directors each face a large fine or a two-year jail term.
On October 24, the Harare Administrative Court ruled that the MIC had been biased in its decision to reject the ANZ application, and that the commission was improperly constituted because none of its members was nominated by an association of journalists or media houses, as stipulated under the AIPPA. The court directed that a properly constituted commission grant the ANZ a registration certificate by November 30.
After consulting with lawyers, the Daily News decided to publish its October 25 edition despite the legal confusion over the status of their license.
But on October 25, while the newspaper was working on its October 26 edition, police raided the Daily News offices and arrested 18 journalists. All the journalists were released later that day after being forced to sign statements saying they worked for the ANZ.
On October 26 and 27, police arrested five ANZ directors and again charged them with publishing a newspaper without a license under AIPPA.
On December 19, 2003, an administrative court again ruled that the paper should be permitted to resume publication. The same day, however, police occupied the offices of the Daily News and the premises of the ANZ's printing press. The police refused to allow journalists to enter the buildings to work.
On January 9, 2004, a High Court judge ordered police to vacate the newspaper's offices and printing press, but police remained on the premises. On January 21, the High Court again ordered police to vacate the newspaper's offices and to allow journalists back to work. Police finally left the premises that day, after the paper's staff served them with the order.
The Daily News resumed publication on January 22. But that day, the MIC and the Information Ministry both filed applications to the High Court seeking a stay to the January 21 ruling in order to stop the paper from publishing, said Daily News legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo.
On February 5, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court upheld AIPPA's licensing and registration regime. The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe's had mounted a legal challenge to the legislation on the grounds that the compulsory registration violated journalists' constitutional right to freedom of expression.
The Daily News ceased publication on February 6. According to international news reports, the ANZ directors decided stopped publishing out of fear that their journalists could be arrested for working without accreditation following the previous day's Supreme Court ruling.
Brian Mutsau, one of the ANZ's directors, told Agence France-Presse that the Daily News journalists obtained the necessary forms from the MIC and would apply for accreditation.
SEPTEMBER 16, 2003
Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, freelance
Paul Cadenhead, Reuters
Mukwazhi, a freelance photographer, and Cadenhead, a photographer working for Reuters news agency, were arrested and taken to the Harare Central Police Station for questioning.
The two photographers were arrested at the offices of the Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily, while they were taking pictures of a police raid on the premises. The raid followed a September 11 Supreme Court declaration that the newspaper was operating illegally since it had failed to register with Zimbabwe's Media and Information Commission. Sources at the scene said that police were in the process of seizing the newspaper's equipment when the two photographers were detained, manhandled, and bundled into police vehicles. Police also confiscated the journalists' cameras.
The two journalists were released later in the day after being charged with "conduct likely to provoke a breach of the peace," signing admissions of guilt under the advice of their lawyer, and paying fines of $5,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$6) each. Police returned the journalists' cameras, but Cadenhead said that police forced him to erase five digital photographs depicting Mukwazhi being manhandled by police. Journalists working for the state media were allowed unfettered access to cover the police raid, local sources said.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2003
Posted: September 18, 2003
Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, freelance
Syrus Nhara, freelance
Aaron Ufumeli, freelance
Police arrested freelance journalists Mukwazhi, Nhara, and Ufumeli at a pro-democracy protest in the capital, Harare. According to news reports, the protesters were calling for a new constitution and the reopening of the Daily News, an independent newspaper that was shut down on September 12.
The journalists were held overnight in a holding cell at the Harare Central Police Station, and police questioned them about how they knew about the protest, and whether they were given permission to cover it, according to Mukwazhi.
The journalists were released after paying a small fine and were charged with "interfering with police activity," Mukwazhi said. Police also arrested more than 100 protesters, according to news reports.
SEPTEMBER 25, 2003
Posted: October 9, 2003
Police in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, charged nine journalists from the Daily News with violating Section 83 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) by practicing journalism without accreditation.
The journalists, who were summoned to the Harare central police station in the morning, were on a list of 45 Daily News journalists that the management of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns the paper, submitted to police earlier in the week in response to a police request.
All nine signed "warned and cautioned" statements before being released, said journalists in Harare. The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted police sources saying that they intend to call in the remaining journalists on the list.
Under AIPPA, all Zimbabwean media companies must be registered with the Media And Information Commission (MIC), and all journalists have to be accredited by the commission. Journalists at the Daily News, the country's only independent daily, said that they had applied for accreditation but were refused on the grounds that they were working for an unregistered publication. Because the ANZ had mounted a constitutional challenge to AIPPA, the company had not registered the Daily News with the MIC. The ANZ applied for registration on September 15, 2003, but their application was denied by the MIC a few days later. Among the grounds for the rejection of the application was that the ANZ had employed unaccredited journalists.
Daily News legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo said that the paper's legal team is seeking a stay of prosecution against the charged journalists, while legal challenges to the act are pending.
According to Moyo, the maximum penalty for the offense of practicing journalism without accreditation is two years' imprisonment and a fine.
On October 1, six more Daily News journalists were summoned to police headquarters and charged with practicing journalism without accreditation.
Among the journalists charged are: News Editor Luke Tamborinyoka, Deputy News Editor Pedzisai Ruhanya, former Editor-in-Chief Francis Mdlongwa, and senior reporters Precious Shumba and Chengetai Zvauya.
OCTOBER 26, 2003
Updated: October 20, 2004
Washington Sansole, ANZ
HARASSED, LEGAL ACTION
Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, ANZ
Michael Stuart Mattinson, ANZ
Brian Mutsau, ANZ
Rachel Kuapara, ANZ
IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION
Police in the southwestern city of Bulawayo arrested Sansole, a director for the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the company that owns the Daily News, and charged him with publishing a newspaper without a license. According to Daily News legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo, authorities told the ANZ that they would not release Sansole until the ANZ's other directors presented themselves to the police. Sansole was freed on October 27 after the newspaper's lawyers obtained a High Court order for his release, Moyo told CPJ.
The four other ANZ directors-CEO Nkomo, Mattinson, Mutsau, and Kuapara-were arrested on the afternoon of October 27 after presenting themselves to police in Harare. They were charged with publishing a newspaper without a license under Zimbabwe's repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The four directors were released on October 29 after paying 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars (US$60) bail each.
Local journalists said that police had arrested Tulepi Nkomo, Sipepa Nkomo's niece, on October 25 after failing to find the director at his home in Harare. Tulepi Nkomo was released by police on October 27, after being charged with "conduct likely to breach the peace" and paying a fine. The arrests came after the Daily News published on October 25 its first edition since police closed the newspaper on September 12 following a Supreme Court declaration that the paper was operating illegally because it had not registered with the country's Media and Information Commission (MIC). The ANZ's application to register with the MIC was rejected the following week.
On October 24, the Harare Administrative Court ruled that the MIC had been biased in its decision to reject the ANZ application, and that the commission was improperly constituted because none of its members was nominated by an association of journalists or media houses, as stipulated under AIPPA. The court directed that a properly constituted commission grant the ANZ a registration certificate by November 30. After consulting with lawyers, the Daily News decided to publish its Saturday edition despite the legal confusion over the status of the newspaper's license. But on October 25, as the newspaper was working on its Sunday edition, police raided the Daily News offices and arrested 18 journalists. All of the journalists were released later that day, after being made to sign statements saying they worked for the ANZ.
The ANZ directors had also been arrested in September and likewise charged after the Daily News published a September 12 edition following the Supreme Court declaration the previous day.
On September 20, 2004, a magistrate's court in Harare acquitted Nkomo, Mattinson, Mutsau, and Kupara, who had been charged with publishing the newspaper illegally. The court ruled that the state had "failed to show a prima facie case against the accused," according to international news reports.
Similar charges against ANZ, which owns the Daily News, were also dismissed, defense lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told CPJ.
DECEMBER 8, 2003
Posted: February 20, 2004
Martin Chimenya, Voice of the People
IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION
Chimenya, a reporter for Voice of the People, an independent radio station that broadcasts into Zimbabwe from Madagascar using a Radio Netherlands transmitter, was arrested in Masvingo, a town nearly 186 miles (300 kilometers) south of the capital, Harare.
Chimenya said that Central Intelligence Organization officers arrested him at his home and ordered him to take all of his journalistic equipment, including a tape recorder and tapes, with him. According to the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa, which hired a lawyer to represent Chimenya, the journalist's whereabouts were unknown until the afternoon of December 9 because police initially denied that he had been arrested. Chimenya's lawyer was allowed to see him that day at the Masvingo police station.
Chimenya said the arrest likely came because an informer witnessed him interviewing Douglas Mwonzora, a spokesperson for the National Constitutional Association, a pressure group for constitutional reform. During the interview, Mwonzora spoke about Zimbabwe's recent withdrawal from the Commonwealth and criticized President Robert Mugabe. Mwonzora was also arrested after the interview.
On December 10, Chimenya was brought before a court and charged under Section 79 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act for practicing journalism without accreditation. He was released on bail of 15,000 Zimbabwe Dollars (US$19). His case is pending.