The Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent newspaper, will be relaunched online despite being banned by the government.

Just days after arrest warrants were issued for 45 Daily News journalists, Ngunjiri Pascal Nderitu, web editor of the Daily News, told dotJournalism that the internet would allow them to continue to reach their readership in Zimbabwe.

"Initially the editors felt scared that the government would take action if we published on the web," he said.

"But we have now made the decision to recreate the newspaper online. And as we will be publishing from Johannesburg, we will be outside the jurisdiction of Zimbabwe's media law.

"This will be a very positive move for us."

Introduced in 2002, the Zimbabwean government's strict Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) requires all media firms to register with the state-run Media Commission. The Daily News objects to the terms of registration which it claims restrict the freedom of the press.

Production was forced to stop on 12 September when armed police raided the newspaper's office in Harare. Staff were ordered from the premises and computer equipment was confiscated.

Last week, Daily News executives eventually registered with the media commission but the application was declined, effectively outlawing the newspaper.

The Daily News is often critical of President Robert Mugabe and the closure has been seen as attempt to stifle government opposition.

However, Mr Nderitu said the publishers were confident that the government would not be able to restrict access to the Daily News web site within Zimbabwe, and that they are also considering changing the site’s domain - currently - to remove any association with the country.

Many Daily News staff moved to Johannesburg in May this year to avoid government action, and the site has been hosted in South Africa by Ecoweb International since June 2003.

Shumba, the site's discussion forum, has remained active throughout the difficulties, logging furious debates between readers.

"The Daily News is a criminal," posted one reader. "They must respect the rule of law. The law requires that you register and you must do exactly that."

But many of those on the forum, including readers outside Zimbabwe, responded in support of the newspaper.

"To obey the law is to be responsible in a democratic society. But in a society where you can get in trouble with the law for the way you think, things are different," said one Canadian reader.

"The move to shut down the Daily News only serves to prove the government's moral and intellectual bankruptcy."

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