HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe's first independent daily newspaper to be launched in seven years said Friday that it will provide a counterpoint to state media that is fiercely loyal to longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe.
NewsDay said in Friday's promotional issue that it will not fall prey to "hate, divisiveness, abhorrent propaganda and personality cults" — tactics it believes the state-run media uses. The paper will start selling on Monday.
"We shall endeavor to report the news for Zimbabweans whose collective voice has systematically been drowned out the din of slogans and abhorrent propaganda," wrote publisher Trevor Ncube.
A new media licensing authority formed by the coalition government has also approved two other independent dailies that will start publishing in coming weeks.
The last independent daily paper was banned by Mugabe's government in 2003, allegedly for bias toward opposition groups now in the fragile power-sharing government.
Before the ban on The Daily News, its printing presses were wrecked in a bombing in which military explosives were used and its downtown offices were the target of a grenade attack.
Investigations into those attacks were never concluded and no arrests were made.
Since sweeping media laws were enforced in 2003, scores of journalists have been arrested, harassed and assaulted. Four Zimbabwe-based foreign reporters were expelled and entry visas for foreign media representatives were frozen. Several local reporters were denied official media accreditation.
A unity deal signed between Mugabe's ZANU PF party and the former opposition party after disputed and violence-marred elections in 2008 called for democratic and media reforms.
The licensing authority was set up in May, replacing the draconian state Media and Information Commission. It has eased licensing formalities and approved some applications that have been pending since 2003.
Human rights groups still accuse Mugabe's party and loyalist troops and police of rights abuses and illegal arrests of opponents.
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