Daily News back on streets after 7 years of Jonathan Moyo's hatchet job

HARARE – Zimbabwe's privately-owned Daily News was back on the streets on Friday more than seven years after being shut down by the government, with a promise to expose bad governance.\r\n

It is the second independent daily to publish since June last year, when a media commission appointed by Zimbabwe’s unity government formed by rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai issued licences for daily papers.

Critics say Mugabe has used tough security and media laws to hold onto power, but has been forced to implement political and media reforms as part of a power-sharing pact with Tsvangirai.

"We unapologetically declare that we will take a critical stand against bad governance and expose it for the entire nation to see," the paper said in its relaunch editorial.

The edition led with a story questioning whether Mugabe should contest the next presidential and parliamentary elections, citing his age and constant rumours about his health.

Mugabe turned 87 last month. He is pushing for elections this year, which his coalition partners warn could lead to bloodshed.

Zimbabwe has no independent radio or television station. Its laws require compulsory accreditation for journalists and bar foreign correspondents from long-term employment.

Mugabe and his officials accuse the local private press and Western media of waging a hate campaign against his ZANU-PF party over its controversial policies, including the seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

Local rights groups say Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has continued to use the police and other security agents to intimidate opponents while using its control of state media for propaganda purposes. 

On Friday the MDC said police had barred the party from holding a rally that Tsvangirai was scheduled to address on Saturday, saying they feared there would be clashes with Mugabe’s supporters who had booked a meeting at a nearby venue.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said police had no authority to stop the rally. The MDC would challenge the ban in court, he said.

"We have said we will proceed, we can’t afford these ZANU shenanigans. These people have a penchant for disruptive conduct," Chamisa said.