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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 16:45 GMT
Zimbabwe appeal to 'fight fear'
Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai faces conflicting pressures inside the party
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has urged his supporters to fight fear as they campaign against President Robert Mugabe.

He said the country was bleeding - and that a way forward must be found to stop it.

Victory was in sight, he said, and 2004 would be the year of the people.

On Friday, police occupied the offices of Zimbabwe's only privately-owned daily newspaper, despite a court ruling that it could resume publication.

Difficult times

Mr Tsvangirai was speaking at a conference of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the capital, Harare.

Daily News
The Daily News has been strongly critical of the government
He was given a warm reception by about 1,000 delegates, but the BBC's Barnaby Phillips - reporting from neighbouring South Africa - says the MDC has been going through difficult times.

It has organised successful strikes and stay-aways but, in the face of government brutality, has failed to bring people out on the streets, our correspondent says.

There are disagreements within the party, with some activists demanding more mass action, while others say greater efforts should be made to revive negotiations with the government.

Our correspondent says that, with the government controlling the media, the MDC has little room for manoeuvre.

Judge overruled

The Daily News, a strong critic of President Robert Mugabe's government, was shut down by police three months ago, under tough media laws passed after Mr Mugabe's controversial re-election last year.

1999: Launched
2000-2001: Editors, journalists arrested several times
Jan 2001: Printing press bombed
2002: New media law passed
July 2003: Appeals against media law
Sep 2003: Closed
24 Oct 2003: Court rules it should be licensed
25 October: Back on the streets, closed again
19 Dec 2003: Court ruling upheld
But a Bulawayo administrative court upheld a previous ruling that a government-appointed commission should have awarded the newspaper a licence.

Despite this, a lawyer for the Daily News told the BBC that police had ordered home staff who were trying to produce the paper's first edition since October.

Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said Friday's judgement had no legal force.

He described the ruling as "outrageously political, unacceptable", adding that an appeal had already been lodged with the Supreme Court.

Lawyers for the paper say Judge Selo Nare, who made the ruling, had now asked for police protection.

Media monopoly

Since opening in 1999, the Daily News has seen its editors arrested on several occasions and its printing press was bombed in January 2001.

The paper was closed by armed police for not registering under the new media laws.

The Daily News had challenged the laws on constitutional grounds.

After its closure, the Daily News applied for a licence, but this was rejected by the Media Commission.

The government controls Zimbabwe's two other daily newspapers and all television and radio stations.


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