Guilty by association


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Armed police raided and shut down the Daily News offices on 25 October 2003 after the paper had published a limited edition of the paper following an administrative court ruling in its favour.

The paper had been shut down a month earlier.

They arrested 18 journalists and other employees working on what would have been the 26 October edition of the paper.

Police in Bulawayo also arrested Washington Sansole, a retired High Court judge and member of the board of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of the Daily News, for “publishing without a license”.

In Harare, police arrested Tuleto Nkomo, the niece of the ANZ Chief Executive Officer Samuel Nkomo, also a niece of ruling party Chairman John Nkomo.

She was the only Nkomo present when police visited Nkomo’s residence on 25 October but had no working association with ANZ.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE2132, POLICE STYMIE COURT JUDGMENT FOR DAILY NEWS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2132

2003-10-27 14:24

2011-08-30 01:44

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.

 

271424Z Oct 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002132

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

SENSITIVE

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM SOCI PGOV KPAO KMDR ZI

SUBJECT: POLICE STYMIE COURT JUDGMENT FOR DAILY NEWS

 

REF: (A) HARARE 1997 (B) HARARE 1943 and previous

 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET POSTING.

PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Following a ruling by the Administrative

Court in its favor October 24, The Daily News (TDN)

published a truncated October 25 issue before a police raid

closed the offices of parent Associated Newspapers of

Zimbabwe (ANZ) later that day. The Media and Information

Commission (MIC) will appeal the court’s judgment, which

ordered it to be recomposed and to issue a certificate of

registration to ANZ by November 30. The judgment did not by

its terms authorize immediate resumption of operations by

ANZ and certain factions within the Government are expected

to resist renewed publication even after November 30. END

SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) Justice Michael Majuru, President of Zimbabwe’s

Administrative Court, on October 24 ruled in favor of the

ANZ, publishers of TDN and “The Daily News on Sunday”

(TDNS), after hearing ANZ’s appeal of the state-appointed

Media and Information Commission’s (MIC) refusal to grant it

an operating license. The court found for ANZ on all three

grounds elaborated in its appeal: that the MIC was

improperly constituted, that it acted outside its statutory

authority, and that it was unduly biased.   It ordered that

the MIC be reconstituted in accordance with the terms of

AIPPA and that, upon its reconstitution, it grant ANZ an

operating license by November 30. If the MIC failed to

comply by this date, ANZ would be deemed registered and

could start its operations immediately.

 

3. (U) Immediately after the judgment was rendered, TDN

printed an eight-page October 25 edition headlining “We’re

Back!” on the front page and reporting on various other

news. The paper printed 100,000 copies that quickly sold

out.

 

4. (SBU) Armed police raided and shut down ANZ’s offices

during the middle of the day on October 25. They arrested

18 journalists and other employees working on what would

have been the October 26 edition of TDNS. Police in

Bulawayo on October 26 also arrested Washington Sansole, a

retired High Court judge and ANZ Board member. He is being

held on charges of “publishing without a license.” Police

in Harare also arrested Tuleto Nkomo, the niece of the ANZ

Chief Executive Officer Samuel Nkomo (and niece of ruling

party Chairman John Nkomo), who was the only Nkomo present

when they visited Nkomo’s residence on October 25. The 30-

year old niece had no working association with ANZ.

 

5. (SBU) As of the afternoon on October 27, police had

released the journalists without charging them. Police

charged the niece under the colonial-era Miscellaneous

Offences Act and released her after payment of a ZD 10,000

(USD 2) fine. Of ANZ’s nine directors, five in Harare had

reported to police and were resisting efforts to have them

incarcerated on unspecified charges. Sansole made an urgent

application to the High Court in Bulawayo for immediate

release pending arraignment. The rest of the directors

reside outside the country. Armed police have sealed ANZ

facilities.

 

6. (SBU) ANZ lawyers and officials are adamant that

publishing the October 25 edition was lawful since the

ruling rendered some of the media regulations under the

controversial Access to Information and Protection of

Privacy Act (AIPPA) invalid. Bolstering their confidence

was the fact that the MIC’s improper constitution meant that

every registration it issued was technically void, rendering

all related publications “outlaws,” not just the ANZ’s. In

the view of government lawyers, however, the ANZ jumped the

gun and was in contempt of court. To drive its case home,

the MIC has said it will appeal the ruling, declaring that

“the court has misdirected itself in ways that are not just

fundamental but also unprecedented.” Legal sources quoted

by the government-controlled press predicted a drawn out

legal case that could drag on for several months while ANZ

remains unproductive.

 

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The Administrative Court’s judgment

represents yet another Pyrrhic victory for the embattled

ANZ. Hoping to avoid having the case bounced back to it

after a near-certain future MIC determination against ANZ,

the court took the rare step of not simply remanding the

case for reconsideration but — on the ground of clear bias

— instructing the Commission to issue the certificate of

registration. ANZ’s decision to resume publication before

receiving the ordered certificate may be second-guessed but

we see no indication that the government will be any more

likely to permit publication even after November 30, the

date by which the court commanded its registration. Appeal

from the Administrative Court’s decision lies with the

Supreme Court, which already has found once against ANZ in

the decision that served as pretext for the paper’s initial

shutdown last month.

 

8. (SBU) COMMENT (CONT’D): Behind the scenes, significant

elements within ZANU-PF quietly want to see ANZ operations

resume as soon as possible — in part to counter the

dominant influence of Information Minister Jonathon Moyo, to

whose confidence and authority this latest swift police

action bears testimony.   That the unpopular Moyo continues

to wield as much power as he does is symptomatic of a

dysfunctional policy-making environment within the ruling

party and the pernicious power of those who enjoy Mugabe’s

favor, as Moyo apparently does.

(4 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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