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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 15:04 GMT
Zimbabwe editor walks free
Destroyed Daily News printing press
The Daily News printing press was destroyed by a bomb
The editor of Zimbabwe's only privately-owned daily newspaper, the Daily News, has been been released on bail after being held overnight and charged with giving false investment information.

It comes as reports from Zimbabwe say the government intends to remove voting rights from most Zimbabweans living abroad.

Geoff Nyarota and Wilf Mbanga, a former director of the company which publishes the paper, appeared at a Harare Magistrates court on Friday where they were given $10,000 Zimbabwe dollars bail.


Nothing whatsoever will make me change the policy of my newspaper

Daily News editor Geoff Nyarota

The Daily News is fiercely critical of the government and in January, its printing press was destroyed by a bomb.

But Mr Nyarota appeared unintimidated by his spell in custody.

"Nothing whatsoever will make me change the policy of my newspaper," he said

"This was just a minor irritation."

Earlier this week, a government newspaper, The Herald, said that The Daily News might be shut down because its publishers had broken investment and foreign exchange control regulations.

Mr Nyarota and three colleagues were arrested in August after publishing a story which alleged that some police officers were involved in the looting of white-owned farms.

Election rules

New rules are to be introduced before next year's presidential election which would limit the use of postal votes to diplomatic staff and soldiers serving outside Zimbabwe, said The Herald on Friday.

Zimbabwean voters
There are fears that next year's poll may not be free and fair

In addition, Zimbabwean expatriates would be barred from using a return visit as a pretext for casting their ballot at home.

Political analysts say the government believes most of the hundreds-of-thousands of Zimbabweans living abroad support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

About 30,000 white Zimbabweans, and as many as a million farm workers and their families from other African countries, who have dual nationality, have already had their voting rights affected.

They are required to either renounce their right to a foreign passport, or forego their Zimbabwean citizenship.

Monitors

On Thursday the government said that it would only allow civil servants to monitor presidential elections, due early next year.

In last year's parliamentary elections, foreigners were banned but local civic organisation trained thousands of Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwean voters
There are fears that next year's poll may not be free and fair

Mr Chinamasa said that some of these organisations were funded by foreigners and therefore did not have Zimbabwe's interests at heart.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change immediately cried foul, saying this was preparing the ground to rig the elections.

The European Union has threatened to impose sanctions if it is not allowed to monitor the poll.

It appears that Mr Mugabe will face his toughest ever challenge in the poll from the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

An opinion poll published on Thursday said that a majority of voters will vote against President Robert Mugabe in the poll, although 20% were undecided.

The poll published in the Financial Gazette said that 52.9% of decided voters backed Mr Tsvangirai, against 47.1% for Mr Mugabe.

The poll was conducted by Target research agency in August and September in a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 voters.

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 ON THIS STORY
Muchadeyi Masunda, Daily News
"There was an inadvertant clerical mistake made"
See also:

01 Aug 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe 'murder plot' fails
27 Oct 01 | Africa
Delegation divided over Zimbabwe
30 Oct 01 | Talking Point
Zimbabwe: Is it time for sanctions?
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