- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 16, 2003

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Police seized computers and other equipment yesterday from Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper, which was shut down last week for failing to register under revised media laws.

The closing of the Daily News comes amid a government crackdown on dissent as Zimbabwe struggles with an economic collapse and international isolation.

President Robert Mugabe last year pushed through severe new security laws allowing the government to ban public gatherings. His opponents have been attacked and arrested.

In Washington, the United States urged Zimbabwe’s government Monday to allow the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday to resume publishing.

But yesterday morning, detectives, security agents and reinforcements of armed paramilitary and riot police in jeeps closed the street outside the entrance lobby of the newspaper.

The police started dismantling computers and photographic equipment, said Sam Sipepa Nkomo, chief executive of the independent Associated Newspapers group, the newspaper’s publisher.

“They want to confiscate all our property. They want to take everything that is relevant to publishing. They are determined to shut us down,” he said.

The Supreme Court, which has been criticized for favoring the government, ruled last week that the Daily News broke the law by not registering under the stringent Access to Information Act, and was operating illegally.

On Monday the Daily News filed for accreditation with the state media commission. Previously the paper’s executives had balked at applying for accreditation, saying the new media laws were an effort to stifle independent and foreign journalists and news organizations.

The owners are also seeking an urgent ruling from the high court permitting the paper to continue publishing while its registration for a government license to operate was being considered by the commission, Mr. Nkomo said.

Since its launch in 1999, the Daily News has given a voice to critics of Mr. Mugabe’s 23-year rule, as the nation suffers its worst political and economic crisis since independence.

In January 2001 the Daily News’ printing presses were destroyed in a bomb attack hours after Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the paper as “a threat to national security which had to be silenced.”

The state controls the country’s two other daily papers and the single television and radio broadcast station.

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