Zimbabwe's information minister has named a new board to consider an application from a banned private newspaper to start publishing again. The move comes four years after the Daily News was shut down by armed police, state radio announced yesterday.
Fiercely critical of longtime leader President Robert Mugabe and his government, the newspaper was Zimbabwe's best-selling daily until it was shut down in September 2003 for breaching tough media laws by operating without a licence from the state media and information commission.
Repeated court attempts to get the paper on the streets again have failed. In May, a high court judge questioned the authorities' delay in appointing an impartial board to deal with the application from the Daily News publisher, the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe.
State radio said Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu this week named five new members to the commission's board. But the minister retained board chairman Tafataona Mahoso. Daily News publishers say that Mahoso is biased against the newspaper.
The radio said: "Ndlovu immediately directed the reconstituted board to deal with the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe issue in respect of their application to the courts for registration as a mass media service provider.
"The minister however urged the board to pay particular attention to the law and parameters set by all court rulings on the matter," the radio report said.
In 2003, the supreme court ruled that the Daily News and its sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday, were published outside the law.
The publishers had refused to register with the media commission as required under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which was introduced shortly after Mugabe's controversial re-election. - Sapa-AP