First black woman TV presenter in Zimbabwe, Mandisa Mundawarara dies

By Lance Guma

The first black woman TV presenter in Zimbabwe, Mandisa ‘Mandy’ Mundawarara (58) passed away in Harare on Friday according to Nehanda Radio sources.

Mandisa Mundawara (centre) with her family
Silas Mundawarara, the deputy prime minister in the administration of former prime minister Abel Muzorewa, Mandisa Mundawarara (centre) with her mother and siblings.

We understand Mandisa, the daughter of Silas Mundawarara, the deputy prime minister in the administration of former prime minister Abel Muzorewa, was discharged from hospital on Friday and a few hours later passed away at home. Only 9 days ago she celebrated her 58th birthday.

A presenter during the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia era in 1979, Mandisa spent decades in exile working for independent Zimbabwean station SW Radio Africa which was based in London.

Broadcast legend and SW Radio Africa founder, Gerry Jackson, paid tribute to Mandisa as a “true radio broadcast professional.”

“When I created SW Radio Africa to broadcast from the UK into Zimbabwe in 2001, Mandisa Mundawarara was one of the first radio presenters I contacted. I had known her for many years and knew her as a true radio broadcast professional.

“She was the first ever black female voice on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia radio in 1979 (known as Mandi) and she had one of those perfect radio voices, smooth like cream and honey. We had some adventures together on SWRA. We were like a band of brothers and sisters and sure we argued and disagreed but it was a unique time that will stay with us all. RIP Mandisa. I mourn your passing,’ Jackson said.

Mandisa Mundawarara (right)
Mandisa Mundawarara (right)

Another Radio and TV legend John Matinde who also worked with Mandisa at both ZBC and SW Radio Africa and had known her for over 40 years expressed sadness at her passing.

“Today is a very sad day for my family and I. Never did I imagine I would be speaking in the past tense, about someone so near and so dear. Besides being a colleague, I had known Mandisa longer than I hadn’t known her! Indeed, where words fail, music speaks…Oliver Mtukudzi put it in a song…Jeri, and I’ll borrow from the lyrics: Husahwira hunopfuura hukama! Am in utter shock….”

Mandisa leaves behind a son and three siblings. 

Mourners are gathered at 1 Ryelands in Borrowdale, Harare.