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A director of Zimbabwe's Daily News was arrested yesterday, a day
after police again shut down the troubled southern African
country's only independent daily newspaper, the paper's legal
The arrest of Washington Sansole in the country's second city of
Bulawayo came after police occupied the paper's offices in the
capital Harare on Saturday and briefly detained 18 other staff
The best-selling Daily News, a staunch critic of President Robert
Mugabe, reappeared on the streets on Saturday more than a month
after it was shut down for operating without a licence.
But as Zimbabweans rushed to get a copy, police swooped on its
offices, detaining staff and shutting down its operations, and
later went to the home of Daily News publisher Samuel Nkomo and
arrested his niece.
The paper's legal adviser Gugulethu Moyo said yesterday the police
wanted to interview the other eight company directors and had
threatened to detain Sansole "until the other guys turn up".
"It's purely vindictive," said Moyo. "It's not about the law.
It's about dealing with perceived political opponents".
The France-based media lobby group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF,
Reporters Without Borders) called for the immediate release of
RSF said the detentions showed that Zimbabwe's authorities "are
ready to do anything to prevent publication of the only independent
daily in the country".
Saturday's comeback edition - touting the optimistic front-page
headline "We're back!" - appeared after a court ruled on Friday
that the Daily News should be granted a licence before November
No stranger to clashes with the government, the Daily News was shut
down in September after Zimbabwe's supreme court ruled it was
operating illegally because it did not have a licence.
The paper then applied for a licence but was turned down by the
state-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC).
Tough new media laws introduced soon after President Mugabe was
re-elected last year say that all journalists and publications must
Late yesterday legal adviser Moyo said the paper would be filing a
number of legal suits against Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
and MIC chairperson Tafataona Mahoso for "the damages we have
suffered from this unlawful commission".
The Daily News plans to sue for massive losses of revenue since its
forced closure in September, among other things, she said. The
challenges are expected to be filed today.
Senior reporter Precious Shumba said yesterday that the government
would not be able to deny him and his colleagues their "right to
tell the Zimbabwean story".
"I feel the government is being harsh with us, and treating us like
criminals," he said.
"But we will not be silenced".
The Daily News, founded four years ago, was an alternative voice to
the two state-run dailies, the Bulawayo-based Chronicle and The
Herald, which toe the government line.
Its closure comes against a background of political unrest, severe
economic crisis and one of the world's highest rates of HIV/Aids
infection in Zimbabwe.
The former British colony's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is
currently on trial for allegedly plotting the assassination of
His marathon trial, which started in February, was supposed to
But his lawyers said over the weekend it was being put off until
possibly next year because the judge had other engagements that
might interrupt proceedings.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday confirmed the arrest
of Daily News director Sansole, a former high court judge, and said
he was being charged with "carrying on the business of a media
house without a certificate".
Bvudzijena said the other company directors would face similar
"They are supposed to get an operating licence before they can
produce," Bvudzijena said.
"But they went on to produce yesterday (Saturday)".
The Daily News has a history of clashes with the government, which
says it is a front for Western interests.
Several of its reporters and photographers have been arrested,
including prominent former editor and founder Geoff Nyarota.
It has also suffered two unexplained explosions - one at the
paper's offices and one at its printing presses. – Sap-AFP.