the Government Silenced Zimbabwe's Only Independent Newspaper

Van der Heijden, Yvonne
September 2004
Nieman Reports;Fall2004, Vol. 58 Issue 3, p49
This article presents an interview with Wilf Mbanga, founding chief executive of the independent newspaper, The Daily News, regarding the efforts of the government in Zimbabwe to silence the newspaper. As of 2004, Mbanga writes about various events in a weekly column for Brabants Dagblad, the regional daily newspaper in the Netherlands. At times, his words are humorous, but they always convey a serious undertone that keeps one mindful that his country, Zimbabwe, lacks freedom of expression, and its corrupt government has destroyed the economy through greed and mismanagement and stopped this independent newspaper from publishing. Mbanga lives with his wife in the city of Tilburg in the southern Dutch province of Noord-Brabant. Here he has been given a year in asylum, as part of the International Network of Cities of Asylum. In the interview, Mbanga called this opportunity a fantastic experience because while in asylum, he can write from the heart, without having to look over his shoulder in fear of being arrested again. Mbanga explained that The Daily News played a key role in the 1999 emergence of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. The Daily News gave the MDC a voice and informed the world of the vicious government crackdown on the opposition before, during,and after the elections. The Daily News was set up as an alternative voice to the government-owned mass media, which kowtowed to the corrupt leadership. Revealing the facts about their corruption and mismanagement really makes bad rulers mad. They do not like it when you get to the truth. Therefore the closure of the newspaper was really no surprise to them, according to Mbanga. What is surprising is that it did not happen sooner, as President Robert Mugabe's government became increasingly paranoid after the founding of the MDC, which was the first viable opposition to its 20-year rule. INSET: International Network of Cities of Asylum.


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