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"Daily News" banned in rural areas

(MISA/IFEX) - 8 March 2012 - The privately-owned newspaper Daily News has reportedly been banned from circulating in Mashonaland East province's Mutoko and Murehwa areas.

In a front-page story published on 8 March 2012, the newspaper said the ban was allegedly being effected by former ruling party Zanu-PF supporters who were forcing people to read only state-owned publications. Councilor Shama Kativhu of Ward 20 in Mutoko said the “thugs” were hostile to all independent newspapers circulating in the areas.

The paper also reported that copies of its newspaper were torn in Kadoma by “identified Zanu PF supporters” after they accused a vendor of selling the newspaper close to a shop owned by a Zanu-PF official. Kadoma is in the Midlands province of Zimbabwe.

Daily News Editor Stanley Gama said he was not surprised by these developments as his newspaper threatened some people in the government, especially those to whom the “concepts of democracy and freedom of speech are anathema”.

Said Gama: “It is clear that some people are scared of the truth. They are scared of our incisive and balanced reporting and what this means for their backward views and political cultures. The good news is that they will fail in their ill-considered mission because Zimbabweans love our papers and they won't allow these anarchists to continue doing this.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists' secretary-general Foster Dongozi has called on politicians to desist from promoting such actions of imposing bans on and tearing of newspaper copies. “We condemn such attacks, particularly the one in Kadoma where copies of the Daily News were torn,” said Dongozi.

MISA-Zimbabwe position

Independent newspapers such as the Daily News are operating lawfully in Zimbabwe and as such the authorities should act against those that are taking the law into their own hands and depriving citizens' of their fundamental right to access alternative information without hindrance from any quarter.

MISA-Zimbabwe calls on the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), the licensing authority, to get to the bottom of these unlawful acts as mandated under its constitutional obligation to defend media freedom and the citizens' right to freedom of expression.

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