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Cablegate: Government Shutters Daily News -- Again

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 002454

SIPDIS

ECA/PE/V/F/E for RNEILSON AND ECONNOLLY
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER & D. TITLEBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SOCI PGOV KPAO KMDR ZI
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT SHUTTERS DAILY NEWS -- AGAIN

REF: (A) HARARE 2309 (B) HARARE 1997 and previous

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.
PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. SUMMARY: Armed riot police prevented The Daily News
(TDN) from publishing following an administrative court
ruling December 19 permitting the paper to resume
operations. The developments confirm the government's
intention to keep TDN closed regardless of any court rulings
- at least until the Supreme Court rules on the case next
year. END SUMMARY

2. The President of the Administrative Court, Justice Selo
M. Nare, handed down a judgment December 19 allowing
enforcement of the September 24 judgment made by
Administrative Court Justice Michael Majuru, which permitted
the TDN to publish after November 30 (reftels). Nare ruled
that the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe should be allowed
to publish notwithstanding the filing of a notice of appeal
in the Supreme Court by the Media and Information Commission
(MIC). Justice Nare found in favor for the ANZ on the basis
that the MIC would not suffer any potential or actual
irreparable harm if leave to enforce the previous judgment
were granted. Nare ruled that the ANZ stood to suffer
irreparable harm or prejudice if leave to execute pending
appeal was denied, and that the MIC appeal to the Supreme
Court was frivolous and vexatious.

3. By its terms, the Nare ruling allowed TDN to resume
operations even as the MIC appeal wound its way through the
Supreme Court. ANZ legal advisor Gugulethu Moyo confirmed
to the embassy December 23 that the police responded swiftly
to the judgment by going to the TDN offices on December 19
to stop TDN from publishing. Moyo told us that ANZ wrote a
letter to the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Augustine Chihuri
on December 20 noting that the police were acting
unlawfully. The Commissioner has not yet responded to the
letter. Moyo does not anticipate that the Supreme Court,
which is in recess, will hear the MIC appeal until next
year.

4. COMMENT: Like those before it, TDN's latest favorable
judgment has proven a dead end. Orchestrating government
efforts to eliminate the publication once and for all is
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, whose government-
controlled press continues to cast TDN as a key pillar of
British efforts to overthrow Mugabe. Characterizing the
judge's opinion as "blatantly political", the American-
educated Minister publicly justified the police's action by
ascribing to them responsibility for implementing law that
courts were only empowered "to interpret". ANZ personnel
are increasingly despondent about the future of TDN and its
prospects of publishing in the near future. Asked about the
way forward, ANZ attorney Moyo responded only that further
legal action would be a "futile exercise" in view of the de
facto bar against publication.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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