ANZ directors released


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Four directors of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe -Rachel Kupara (44), Stuart Mattinson (58), Brian Mutsau (43) and chief executive officer Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (58) – were released on 29 October after spending two nights in police custody.

Each paid Z$50 000 to be freed, after the presiding magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe ordered the directors to return on November 13 for a determination on whether they had a case to answer on charges of”publishing without a license” and “contempt of court”.

The four directors were arrested after presenting themselves to police in Harare. They were charged with publishing a newspaper without a license under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

ANZ had published an edition of the Daily News on 25 October after the Administrative Court ruled the previous day, that the state-appointed Media and Information Commission “had not been properly constituted”.

The court then directed that a properly constituted commission should grant the ANZ a registration certificate by 30 November.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE2159, LEGAL BATTLE ON AFTER RELEASE OF ANZ DIRECTORS

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2159

2003-10-30 13:20

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

301320Z Oct 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002159

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/PDPA FOR DALTON, MITCHELL AND SIMS

AF/S FOR DELISI, RAYNOR

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KPAO KMDR ZI

SUBJECT: LEGAL BATTLE ON AFTER RELEASE OF ANZ DIRECTORS

 

REF: (A) HARARE 2132 (B) HARARE 1997 AND PREVIOUS

 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED; NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: A court magistrate on October 29 ordered

the release of four directors of the Associated Newspapers

of Zimbabwe (ANZ), reserving judgment on criminal charges

pending against them until November 13. Armed police

continue to bar access to ANZ offices, preventing resumed

publication of The Daily News (TDN) or The Daily News on

Sunday (TDNS). ANZ lawyers advised the Embassy that they

plan to seek a court order from the High Court requiring

police to stand down and to permit publication. END

SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) Four ANZ directors – Rachel Kupara (44), Stuart

Mattinson (58), Brian Mutsau (43) and ANZ Chief Executive

Officer Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (58) — on October 29 werehave

been released on bail after spending two nights in police

custody. Each paid Z$50,000 (us$9) to be freed, after the

presiding magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe ordered the

directors to return on November 13 for a determination on

whether the directors have a case to answer on charges of

“publishing without a license” and “contempt of court.”

Magistrate Guvamombe reserved judgment until November 13,

saying he needed time to pore over a High Court ruling made

in Bulawayo on October 27 that freed another ANZ director,

Washington Sansole, who was arrested last Sunday and held

overnight in police custody on charges of publishing

without a license.

 

3. (U) In presenting her heads of argument in court, ANZ

lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa complained of the “inhuman

conditions” in the “tiny, unsanitary prison cell” in which

the directors were held while in police custody. She also

protested against the “limited access” given to the legal

consulcounsel by the Officer Commanding at the police

cells, adding that they were also denied food and medicine.

“This is a violation of the basic human rights,” Mtetwa

told magistrate Guvamombe.

 

4. (U) The four directors of the country’s only independent

daily newspaper, The Daily News, had beenwere arrested in

the afternoon on Monday, October 27 after presenting

themselves to police in Harare. They were charged with

publishing a newspaper without a license under the

controversial Access to Information and Protection of

Privacy Act (AIPPA). Prosecutors on October 29 altered the

charge Interestingly, the charge was altered Wednesday

morning, October 29 to include “contempt of court”

chargescounts.

 

5. (U) Under the headline “We’re back!”,l TDN went to press

on October 25 after the Administrative Court ruled the

previous day, October 24 that the state-appointed Media and

Information Commission (MIC) “had not been properly

constituted.” (ref A). The court then directed that a

properly constituted commission grant the ANZ a

registration certificate by November 30 this year. This

ruling, according to the arguments submitted by the ANZ

lawyer Mtetwa to Magistrate Guvamombe, called off all its

actions to date, rendered media regulations invalid and

entitled ANZ go to press.

 

6. (U) Under AIPPA, the MIC has disciplinary powers to

withdraw licenses; confiscate equipment and jail

journalists for up to two years. More than 45 local

journalists have been charged and four foreign journalists

expelled since the law was passed.

 

7. (SBU) Meanwhile, the siege on ANZ offices mounted by

armed police remains in force. ANZ legal adviser Gugulethu

Moyo informed the Embassy that ANZ would file an urgent

application in the High Court before the end of this week

to seek the police’s immediate removal and resumption of

publishing operations. Mtetwa advised that AIPPA was

unclear on which legal venue was competent to order

resumption of operations – the High Court, the

Administrative Court, or the Magistrate’s office.

Arguably, any of the three could, although Mtetwa did not

suggest ANZ would present the question to the

Administrative Court (which found resoundingly in its favor

October 24) with the matter pending before the other two.

8. (SBU) COMMENT: From South Africa, ANZ Chairman Strive

Masiyiwa was quoted publicly as predicting that publication

would resume “in a matter of weeks.” Although the law

appears to compel a finding that publication be permitted

immediately, no court has ruled on the issue yet – the

Administrative Court came closest in its order that ANZ’s

registration (the absence of which has been the basis of

the government-induced shutdown) would be deemed effective

on November 30. The courts will likely strain to avoid

making a judgment they fear will be ignored (as the

magistrate did), but ANZ appears prepared to make such

avoidance impossible. For its part, the government has

ignored the intent of a series of court decisions in ANZ’s

favor but has yet to defy an explicit court order,

capitalizing instead on limits and omissions in each

decision for some fig leaf of legal authority. The

decisive sway held by Information Minister Moyo on this

issue so far, however, suggests that the government is

prepared to defy an explicit court order when the time

comes.

 

SULLIVAN

 

(33 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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