- Zimbabwe's Supreme Court today upheld a widely criticised law requiring all independent journalists and media organisations to register with a government commission. It however ruled that the Media and Information Commission (MIC) must reconsider a 2003 decision to deny registration to the banned 'Daily News' and its sister paper, the 'Daily News on Sunday'.
The MIC will have 60 days to rule on the application, according to local sources. Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), which owns the two independent papers, originally refused to register with the MIC, and instead mounted a constitutional challenge to the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which mandates registration.
On 11 September 2003, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ruled that ANZ was operating illegally because it was not registered, and authorities shuttered the 'Daily News' and the 'Daily News on Sunday' the following day. ANZ subsequently applied for accreditation, but was turned down. Police continue to hold much of the company's publishing equipment, according to the South Africa-registered website of the 'Daily News'.
The Harare Supreme Court ruled in ANZ's long-running lawsuit seeking to scrap several sections of AIPPA; today's decision is the second time the court has upheld AIPPA's constitutionality. In February 2004, the Supreme Court ruled against a suit brought by the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ), which argued that compulsory registration violated journalists' constitutional right to free expression.
In January 2005, President Robert Mugabe signed into law an amendment to AIPPA that strengthened the legislation's already harsh provisions, setting prison terms of up to two years for any journalist found working without accreditation from the MIC. Two other newspapers remain shuttered under AIPPA: the private weekly 'The Tribune', which was closed in June 2004, and the 'Weekly Times', which was shut down on 25 February this year, after just eight weeks of publication.
Today's ruling by Zimbabwe's Supreme Court was a disappointment to press freedom groups, both in Zimbabwe and abroad. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today said it was "appalled at the long-term, government-enforced closure of Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper."
CPJ Director Ann Cooper demanded that the 'Daily News' and the 'Daily News on Sunday' "must be allowed to reopen immediately and unconditionally." Zimbabwe's "draconian media legislation, together with its security forces' constant harassment of local independent journalists," had made the country "one of worst places in the world for journalists," Ms Cooper added.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.