By Nhau Mangirazi
My name is Nhau Mangirazi, a male journalist based in Hurungwe within Mashonaland West province who has contributed to several newspapers locally, regionally and internationally.
These include provincial The Star, Weekly Mirror, The Telegraph as well as Newsday, The Standard, and regional Sunday Times.
My vast experience that stretches for 25 years has seen me contributing to The Africa Report, BBC, Al Jazeera, The New Internationalist, Radio Voice of the People as both radio and website correspondent for 12 years.
I have also contributed to Zim Morning Post among other websites as provincial correspondent.
I have covered every beat including agriculture, health, mining and environment, courts, education, women and girl child, food security, investigation, arts and culture among others.
On this note, I have won several awards including Local Languages Reporter of the Year (2003- National Journalistic Awards- NJAMA), HIV and AIDS Runner up Reporter of the Year (2004 NJAMA), Professional Media and Investigative Journalist of the Year (2015 Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe), Child Rights Journalist of the Year sponsored by UNICEF–(NJAMA 2016).
In 2016 I won Provincial Municipal Reporter of the Year, Provincial Environment and Mines as well as Arts, Sports and Culture Reporter of the Year awards.
From the above awards and experience, I had missed something in amplifying women voices as my stories were community based without mainly women Members of Parliament (MPs) as primary or secondary sources until 2018 when I was among nine journalists trained and contributed to the production of Counting the Gains- ZWPC Photobook.
That was the major breakthrough as I met several of these female MPs for interview building trust in our reportage especially for some of us in outlying rural communities.
In September 2019, I was among a team of 16 journalists trained through the support of SIDA, GIZ, HIVOS to increase female MPs voices in our stories.
The training was under Getting a Gender Balance, Increasing Media Coverage of female MPs.
It opened new avenues for me as an individual who had yearned to including female MPs’ voices on some national issues that had been a challenge of late.
The training and networking with female MPs within Mashonaland West province saw me working closely with all of them besides political divide that has spoiled Zimbabwe democratic space since 2000 where there was hostility from MPs of certain political parties against some journalists.
Being a freelancer, it has been an added advantage to me where majority of MPs confessed that they knew the name itself as a journalist so it helped me out to interview those that I had story idea that I wanted their input from.
This saw me writing seven stories in early November including pre national budget conference where I had two articles from Hon Concilia Masuku-Chinanzvavana as chairperson of Tourism, Hospitality and Environment parliament portfolio committee.
While pre and post budget angling of stories has been mainly from minister’s speech, technical analysis from economists, it became easier for me to get it from a parliament portfolio chairperson who happened to be female, talking about national issues.
This has been the missing link of amplifying female MPs voices that I am enjoying in my work driven by the passion to tell a real story by those affected and women tell it from personal experience.
Also Hon Goodluck Kwaramba (Hurungwe Proportional Representative) who spoke during a SADC parliament forum in Kadoma, it was impressive that she talked about issues of empowering youths as regional block as well as women emancipation.
The story anchored from our community set up where youths and women have been deprived equal opportunities and as gender sensitive journalist I saw it fit to write the story from a regional grouping so that it makes better impact.
Some of the stories included Government policy of devolution where Resident Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka who is also Hurungwe West MP said unproductive resettled farmers face eviction as Government looks forward to see every province increasing its Gross Domestic Product and incomes.
This story could have been ignored without the gender lenses that we have developed to amplify female MPs voices through Gender Media Connect- (GMC) training and sourcing opportunities that I gained will forever remain part of my discharge of duties that I always cherish professionally.
As it stands, I am enjoying writing more of these stories where I have shares links with some of those including two newly appointed deputy ministers who welcomed my approach to do these regularly.
It has built trust for me and am happy that I will have at least two stories weekly from female MPs including a latest where I interviewed Kariba PR Hon Christine Nyere on free sanitary wear for girls according to Finance Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube 2020 budget and she was at ease speaking her mind without fear or favor, thereby playing her role as an elected MP.
I am grateful that I am playing my role as one of the experienced community based journalists who has made it nationally, regionally and internationally to amplify women voices by writing it from their own words.