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Zhean Gwaze,The Financial Gazette
The High Court has
dismissed an urgent chamber application by African Tribune Newspapers
(ATN) (Pvt) Limited, publisher of The Tribune, which sought to have the
weekly newspaper back on the streets - a decision critics said was a further
blow on media freedom.
Last month, The Tribune
was shut down after the Media Information Commission (MIC) cancelled its
registration for allegedly failing to comply with provisions of the draconian
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The judgment was handed
down yesterday in the High Court's motion court on behalf of Justice Tendayi
Details of the full
judgment are yet to be made public.
The High Court decision
comes hardly a year after another independent media house, the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publisher of The Daily News and The Daily
News on Sunday, was shut down.
ATN confirmed the latest blow to the independent media in Zimbabwe, but
said they were still to peruse the full judgment.
"We had applied for
a provisional order to set aside the MIC's decision to shut down the paper
pending the final determination of the provisional order. We were seeking
an interim relief order to operate," said ATN lawyer Selby Hwacha.
The Tribune was closed
following accusations by the MIC that ATN had not notified the commission
of certain changes in its ownership, operations and masthead.
ATN publisher Kindness
Paradza described the court's decision as another sad chapter in the country's
"It is sad in a democratic
society like Zimbabwe where The Tribune did not offend anyone," Paradza,
the youthful ZANU PF legislator for Makonde, said.
"We wonder why we
received this negative judgment. It's unfortunate because employees of
The Tribune are going to be on the already long list of the unemployed
in this country."
About 300 workers
have already been sent on forced leave while management battles it out
with the authorities.
Trouble for The Tribune
started when the outspoken Paradza openly attacked provisions of AIPPA
in his maiden speech in Parliament, saying the repressive law scared away
potential media investors.
the speech, Paradza was lambasted in the government-controlled media,
which accused him of attempting to revive the ANZ through the back door.
The legislator said
yesterday he would appeal against the High Court ruling.
"We will exhaust all
the legal channels available to have the paper back on the streets," Paradza
the MIC chairman, declined to comment.
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