The first independent daily newspaper to hit the streets of Zimbabwe since authorities forced the Daily News to close in 2003 launched publication Friday across the country with a free promotional edition.
The tabloid Newsday, published by the Alpha Media Holdings, which has long operated the weekly Independent and Standard newspapers, was to be officially launched on Monday.
The milestone in Zimbabwe press freedom was marred when police detained four Alpha Media staff distributing the daily for allegedly obstructing traffic in Harare. They were released three hours later after paying US$40 fines.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission recently issued certificates or licenses to four new daily newspapers. The other three are the Daily Gazette, the Daily Mail, and the soon-to-be resurrected Daily News. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions also received authorization to publish its Worker on a weekly basis, from monthly now.
Alpha Media Holdings Chief Executive Officer Raphael Khumalo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that the detention of staff was unfortunate – but said his organization would not be deterred by the setback.
Media advocates welcomed the symbolic launch of Newsday and urged the education of police to allow journalists and other media workers to do their jobs without harassment. Advocacy Officer Tabani Moyo of the Media Institute of Southern Africa's Zimbabwe branch said the public responded with excitement to the Newsday launch.