THE management and owners of Zimbabwe’s banned independent daily newspaper, the Daily News, are edgy ahead of an expected High Court ruling to have its reporters accredi
ted with the government-appointed Media and Information Commission (MIC).
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), the publishers of the Daily News and its sister weekly, The Daily News On Sunday, filed an application in the High Court seeking a declaratory order to have the stable’s journalists accredited. Justice Lawrence Kamocha is expected to hand down his ruling next week after reserving judgement on the matter two weeks ago.
An urgent application lodged in the courts in February was dismissed by Justice Alfas Chitakunye, who ruled that the matter was not pressing.
The latest application, lodged by ANZ (Pvt) Ltd as a corporate body, news editor Luke Tamborinyoka, editor Nqobile Nyathi and deputy editor John Gambanga, cites MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso as the first respondent and Information minister Jonathan Moyo as the second respondent.
In their court application, being handled by Pilate Mahlangu of Gill, Godlonton & Gerrans, the journalists argue that at the time their accreditation expired on December 31, 2003 the MIC had been declared by the Administrative Court to be “improperly constituted”.
“It was in fact not reconstituted and remains, as far as my colleagues and I are aware, improperly constituted,” reads the affidavit by Nyathi. “There was therefore no commission before which we could apply to renew our accreditation.”
The court application says notwithstanding this impediment and subsequent to a Supreme Court ruling that the reporters be accredited, the applicants prepared and filed through the MIC applications for accreditation on February 6, 2004. The journalists however did not receive any response from the MIC. They argue that the MIC did not advise on what action had been taken in respect of the applications.
“It seems to us clear that the first respondent does not intend to deal with our applications for accreditation,” the journalists said in their court application.
In their opposing papers filed after the first urgent application, Mahoso and Moyo, through their lawyer Johannes Tomana of Muzangaza, Mandaza & Tomana, argued that the journalists were not banished from practising but their registration would only be accepted on condition that they find another employer or editors willing to buy their stories on a freelance basis.