THE Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition has called for the immediate re-opening of the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, published by Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, as press
ure mounts on government to lift the group’s widely-condemned closure.
Addressing journalists this week, the civic group said the ban of the top-selling Daily News and its sister publication provided irrefutable evidence of a full-blown dictatorship in Zimbabwe.
“The banning of the Daily News constitutes the ruling party’s most serious attack yet upon freedom of expression and media freedom,” it said. “It is the action of a ruthless and intolerant regime.”
Crisis in Zimbabwe said the shutting down of some of the country’s two mainstream independent newspapers has left the public exposed to a pernicious official propaganda sludge that the nation is served with daily.
“It deprives large numbers of Zimbabweans of a daily source of information and an alternative to the virulent propaganda disseminated by the state-controlled media,” it said.
“There is no doubt that the primary objective of (President Robert) Mugabe’s regime in banning the Daily News is to ensure that Zimbabweans, and indeed the international community, do not receive information about the regime’s continued acts of abuse of power, repression, violence and grave violation of human rights that are being perpetrated against Zimbabweans.”
The group said the closing down of the ANZ publications was the culmination of a crusade by government to narrow the frontiers of press freedom.
“The last few years have seen the intensification of the regime’s hostile campaign against the private press. The offices and the printing press of the Daily News have been bombed as has the building of an independent broadcaster,” Crisis in Zimbabwe said.
“Many editors and journalists have been arrested and charged under repressive legislation. There has been constant harassment of private press editors and journalists and a number of them have been physically assaulted. Lawless elements have destroyed copies of the Daily News and assaulted vendors.”