The Daily News received a short-lived reprieve on 21 January 2004 when High Court Judge Tendai Uchena ordered police to vacate its premises to allow the paper to resume publishing.
Even United States embassy officials were baffled aty ther about turn by the government since it had ignored four other previous court orders to permit the resumption of publication.
“After the government had ignored no fewer than four previous court orders to permit resumption of publication by TDN (the Daily News) and its sister, the Daily News on Sunday, the sudden police withdrawal was surprising,” the embassy said in a comment to a cable dispatched on 22 Janaury 2004 .
“Why now? The GOZ is not prone to accidents or acts of kindness and a number of factors may have converged. Director of Civil Division Loice Matandamoyo and others in the Attorney General’s office appear to have played a constructive role. They have been urging police to vacate TDN premises for weeks and publicly voiced agreement with earlier court orders.”
The paper suspended publishing on 5 February.
Viewing cable 04HARARE128, DAILY NEWS BACK ON STREETS
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000128
AF/S FOR SDELISI, LAROIAN, MRAYNOR
AF/PD FOR DFOLEY, CDALTON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER, DTEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2014
SUBJECT: DAILY NEWS BACK ON STREETS
REF: (A) HARARE 73 (B) HARARE 61 (C) HARARE 47 (D) 03
HARARE 2454 AND PREVIOUS
Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton Under Section 1.5(b)(d)
¶1. (U) High Court Judge Tendai Uchena on January 21 again
ordered the police to vacate the premises of The Daily News
(TDN) following an admission in court by the Attorney
General’s office that there was no legal basis for police
occupation of the premises. After receiving a call on
January 21 from the police advising that they would no longer
obstruct TDN publication, TDN staff proceeded to publish a
January 22 edition — its first edition of the new year and
only its second since the government shut it down on
¶2. (C) COMMENT: After the government had ignored no fewer
than four previous court orders to permit resumption of
publication by TDN and its sister, The Daily News on Sunday,
the sudden police withdrawal was surprising. Why now? The
GOZ is not prone to accidents or acts of kindness and a
number of factors may have converged. Director of Civil
Division Loice Matandamoyo and others in the Attorney
General’s office appear to have played a constructive role.
They have been urging police to vacate TDN premises for weeks
and publicly voiced agreement with earlier court orders.
¶3. (C) COMMENT (CONT’D): TDN editor Sam Nkomo pointed to
evolving dynamics between the police, the judiciary, and
party rivals in the wake of the Philip Chiyangwa affair (ref
A) as a possible factor. Prominent ZANU-PF
politician/businessman Chiyangwa’s continued detention (in
part for threatening police in open court) despite an
explicit court order instructing his release provoked dueling
statements from prominent ruling party figures about the
imperative of following court orders vs. the need for the
police to command respect. The dissonance between such
statements and the treatment of TDN may have influenced
decisive players to soften their stance on TDN.
¶4. (C) COMMENT (CONT’D): Perhaps more significantly, the
closure of TDN in the face of contrary court orders had been
driven by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo — a widely
despised and feared hardliner with many enemies. Many in the
ruling party quietly supported the re-opening of TDN for a
variety of reasons, not the least of which was to stem Moyo’s
growing stranglehold on information in Zimbabwe. In recent
months, Moyo has used his control of The Herald, ZBC and
other GOZ information outlets increasingly to aggrandize his
own stature and power, often at the expense of ruling party
rivals. TDN’s return serves Moyo’s rivals purposes by
keeping GOZ public information more balanced and by making
Moyo appear to lose face.
¶5. (C) COMMENT (CONT’D): South African Government influence
may have played an additional important role. TDN’s
publisher Strive Masiyiwa told Embassy Harare’s USAID
Director in South Africa January 21 that his publishing
associates had strong access to Mbeki’s office. According to
Masiyiwa, Mbeki had met with them for up to three hours at a
time on Zimbabwe and was visibly angry during such meetings
over GOZ prevarications on TDN. We note a possible
connection between TDN’s reappearance and President Mbeki’s
public announcement the same day that the MDC and ZANU-PF had
committed to resume their dialogue. Mbeki’s gesture
reflects well on the GOZ even though MDC officials told us
today that there has been no progress in fixing modalities
for inter-party discussions (ref C).