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Cablegate: Court Consolidates Goz Appeal and Daily News

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

291341Z Jan 04

UNCLAS HARARE 000174

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S. DELISI, L. AROIAN, M. RAYNOR
AF/PD FOR D. FOLEY, C. DALTON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

SENSITIVE

E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: COURT CONSOLIDATES GOZ APPEAL AND DAILY NEWS
CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE, DEFERS DECISION

REF: (A) HARARE 128 (B) HARARE 61 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) SUMMARY: After two days of hearings, Supreme Court
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on January 28 consolidated
the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe's (ANZ, parent company
of The Daily News) and the Media and Information
Commission's (MIC) appeal of lower court decisions
permitting publication of The Daily News (TDN).
Chidyausiku deferred decision until January 30 on the GOZ's
application for an order prohibiting publication of TDN
pending resolution of other matters, and scheduled a
purportedly final hearing for February 18 on constitutional
and other disposative issues. END SUMMARY

2. (U) Lawyers for the GOZ's Media and Information
Commission (MIC) presented their case to Justice Chidyausiku
on January 27. The MIC sought an order on two issues: (1)
to consolidate all the Supreme Court applications into one
action, and (2) to order TDN to cease publication on the
grounds that it lacked a license. ANZ attorney Mordecai
Mahlungu told the embassy on January 28 that both parties
agreed to consolidate the matters into one Supreme Court
case.

3. (U) On January 28, Justice Chidyausiku agreed to
consolidate the MIC appeal from the Administrative Court as
well as the constitutional challenge brought by the ANZ. On
September 11, 2003, the Supreme Court had refused to hear
the ANZ constitutional challenge (reftels), ordering that
the ANZ apply for registration before they could challenge
the constitutionality of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). ANZ submitted its
application for registration on September 15 but the MIC
denied the application

4. (U) With agreement of the parties, Chidyausiku on January
28 scheduled the case to be heard February 18 in the Supreme
Court. The MIC asked Chidyausiku to provide it with an
order barring the Daily News from publishing until the
matter was resolved on February 18. ANZ attorneys opposed
this application and Chidyausiku agreed to allow them to
file opposing briefs by January 30.

5. (SBU) The government-controlled Herald's January 29
edition reported the resignation and departure to South
Africa of Administrative Court Judge Michael Majuru.
Sitting on an earlier iteration of the ANZ case in November,
Majuru had supported the legal position of the ANZ but
recused himself following government media allegations of
improper favoritism and the reported commencement of an
investigation against him. In a related development,
principals of the weeklies Independent and Standard recently
confided to emboffs that they feared GOZ-ordered closure of
their publications within weeks.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The Herald's front page treatment of
Majuru's removal from the scene evinces the GOZ's continuing
designs against the independence of both the judiciary and
the press. While the demise of the Independent and Standard
may not prove as imminent as feared by some, it seems clear
that the GOZ's war on the independent media will not end on
January 30 or February 18, regardless of how the Chief
Justice decides the issues before him.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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