- A planned regional newspaper, to be called the 'New Sunday Times', by Namibian and Zimbabwean state media houses looks to have hit a snag. The weekly newspaper, which aims at countering the influence of foreign media, is accused of stealing the name of a known South African publication.
South Africa's 'Sunday Times' newspaper has taken legal steps against the Namibian and Zimbabwean publishers to block the use of its name, while the publishers seem to be unsure of whether the new publication will be on the streets tomorrow, as originally planned.
Three months ago, Namibia's New Era Publication Corporation and Zimbabwe's Zimpapers signed a cooperation agreement to pave the way for a regional newspaper to "counter the threat of the global media to African values," as they said in a statement.
Reports coming from South Africa indicate that attorneys acting for the 'Sunday Times' have written to New Era and Zimpapers, warning them that any use of the name 'New Sunday Times' would constitute an infringement of the South African newspaper's rights to the regionally well-known trademark.
The head of Namibia's government-owned 'New Era' newspaper, Protasius Ndauendapo, on Monday confirmed to 'The Namibian' that he had received a letter from the lawyers of 'Sunday Times' a month ago. "They (the 'Sunday Times' lawyers) just brought to our attention that their client was claiming ownership of the name... and that we should not use the name," he said.
Mr Ndauendapo was then quick to state that he did not want to comment further on the issue. "Our lawyers have responded. But it is difficult to say anything now," he said.
The 'New Era' boss was also reluctant to offer comment on whether the first edition of the 'New Sunday Times' would be on the street on 1 July as planned. "You see technically 1 July is a Thursday, but this is a Sunday newspaper... so I can't comment on that now," Mr Ndauendapo declared.
Plans to launch the regional publication by Namibia and Zimbabwe have already raised a few eyebrows in the region with critics in some neighbouring countries, describing it as a "Mugabe [Zimbabwe's President Robert] and Nujoma [Namibia's President Sam] propaganda tool."
The Assistant Editor of Zimbabwe's infamous state-run 'Herald' newspaper, Moses Magadza, will edit the 'New Sunday Times', assisted by a staff member from Namibia's 'New Era'. During its initial stages the new newspaper will depend on articles from 'New Era' and Zimpapers, but it is ultimately expected to become "independent".
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