Zimbabwe issues licence to banned newspaper

HARARE, (Reuters) – Zimbabwean authorities yesterday issued an operating licence to a local newspaper group forced to close down by the state five years ago, a move which  suggests the new unity government intends to open up the media.

A special committee set up by the Information Ministry  nearly two years ago said the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe  (ANZ) was free to resume operations.

A unity government formed by President Robert Mugabe and his  arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai in February to try to ease a severe  economic crisis has been under pressure to implement political  and media reforms to win critical foreign assistance.

The government is setting up a new Zimbabwe Media Commission  to spearhead the reforms, including easing restrictive  registration and accreditation requirements for media.

In a letter to the ANZ directors, a copy of which was  obtained by Reuters, the committee which was considering the  application said the newspaper group was free to operate again.

There was no immediate comment on Thursday from the ANZ. The ANZ group used to publish a private daily newspaper and  a weekly on Sunday, sharply critical of Mugabe’s rule, and in competition with a government-controlled newspaper group.

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