Gono's Financial Gazette to launch Daily Evening Gazette

HARARE – Zimbabwean publishers of a private weekly newspaper said on Thursday they would launch an evening daily, in a sign tough media laws may be relaxing after the formation of a unity government.

The new government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to carry out reforms, including allowing more media outlets as part of a drive to convince Western donors to release badly needed funding.

Publishers of the Financial Gazette said they had been working quietly on the Daily Evening Gazette project and that they would start recruiting for senior positions from next week.

"A lot of ground has been covered in capitalising the project, putting in place appropriate equipment, raw materials and the expertise ahead of the launch," chief executive Jacob Chisese, was quoted as saying in the Financial Gazette.

Chisese did not say when the paper would be launched.

Zimbabwe has had one national daily paper, the state-owned Herald, since 2003 when authorities shut down the only independent daily, the Daily News, as Mugabe moved to muzzle the media.

The ownership of the Financial Gazette has been a source of media speculation since 2002, with reports that it is owned by central bank governor and Mugabe ally Gideon Gono. Gono has not commented on the reports.

Last month, South African-based publisher Trevor Ncube announced plans to launch a daily in Zimbabwe.

Ncube, a Zimbabwean who lives in South Africa, publishes the weekly Zimbabwe Independent and Zimbabwe Standard as well as South Africa’s Mail & Guardian, all of which have been critical of Mugabe.