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Independent news websites mushroom

Gift Phiri

INTERNET news websites on Zimbabwe continue to mushroom as government closes down independent local newspapers to stop the flow of information deemed anti-Mugabe.

Government has so far shut down three independent newspapers and threatens to close down the remaining ones, pushing scores of journalists out of employment.

Labelled “terrorists” and “sellouts” by government for their critical reporting, free press journalists have been hounded out of their jobs through repressive media laws and endless harassment. This has seen dozens of journalists leaving the country.

A group of former Zimbabwean journalists and other professionals now based overseas have launched an independent political website, Zimdaily.com. The website was launched in July and has had a daily publication since then.

Owners of the website, who declined to be named for security reasons, said in written response yesterday that the website was being run by Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

“Zimdaily.com is a project initiated by former Zimbabwean professionals now based in the UK, the US and Canada with combined knowledge of journalism, marketing, management, and IT,” Zimdaily.com said.

“Having been exposed to the repressive laws in Zimbabwe, Zimdaily.com founders decided to come up with a force that President Robert Mugabe and his spin doctor Jonathan Moyo cannot stop.”

Owners of the website said Zimdaily.com is edited in Canada and published in England. The website is owned and run by WorldOnCall Corporation, a media company owned by Zimbabweans abroad. “We hit the 100 000 mark within the first two weeks of launch,” the owners said. Zimdaily.com said it believed in the independence of the media in any democracy. “Furthermore we seek to inform the public in order for people of Zimbabwe to be able to end the suffering of fellow country men who don’t a voice to say it out but have the power to make the change.”

The government has since the promulgation of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in 2002 closed down the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and the Tribune and arrested dozens of journalists on flimsy charges.

There are more than 10 Zimbabwean websites that include zimonline.co.za, zimbabwesitua-tion.com, zwnews.com, zimobser-ver.com, zimbabwepost.com, dailynewsonline.co.za, newzimbab-we.com and the controversial zvakwana.com. A new 24-hour Internet radio station, Afro-Sounds FM, run by former ZBC presenters went live two weeks ago, broadcasting to thousands of Zimbabweans from a location in London.

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