By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Prominent Zimbabwean journalist Violet Gonda has been re-elected for a second term as President of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), the oldest global organisation for female broadcasters with members in over 54 countries and 14 national chapters that are registered in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.
Gonda is the youngest and second African to lead this organisation since its formation in 1951. The organisation, which was created in the aftermath of World War II, has grown into a world-wide network with a mission to strengthen initiatives that ensure the justified women’s role in media and grassroots communities. Programmes include safety training for female journalists, production of long documentaries and setting up of mobile disaster community radio programmes.
In another development, the US-based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has announced that the journalist is among seven people selected for this Fall’s Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship. This is a unique opportunity for scholars, activists, journalists to conduct research and exchange ideas and build connections with expansive network of democracy advocates.
During her fellowship, “Ms. Gonda will document the appropriation of hybrid media in the fight against competitive authoritarian regimes, using Zimbabwe as a case study.
“She will further outline the role of alternative media in the struggle for social justice and the attacks that journalists face in response to their work,” NED says.
Gonda has worked as a broadcast journalist for over 15 years in several countries including the UK, USA, South Africa and Zimbabwe, focusing on human rights, democracy, political and governance issues.
She was part of a team that set up SW Radio Africa, the first independent Zimbabwean radio station, which broadcast from London between December 2001 to 2014 covering Zimbabwe’s progressive political and economic meltdown.
The radio station made bold moves to provide alternative ways to circumvent state censorship in Zimbabwe while reporting from London. Gonda was among six Zimbabweans banned from returning to her country by President Robert Mugabe’s government as a result of the critical broadcasts, which exposed the crisis in the southern African country.
After almost two decades in forced exile, she briefly returned to Zimbabwe following the fall of Mugabe in late 2017, to report on political developments.
While there, she hosted presidential and parliamentary election debates and co-produced an investigative documentary, “Ballots then Bullets,” which explored election irregularities and electoral violence in 2018.
While in Zimbabwe, she hosted key town-hall style presidential and parliamentary election debates and co-produced an investigative documentary, “Ballots then Bullets,” which explored election irregularities and electoral violence in 2018.
She is also known for her hard-hitting Hot Seat programme where she puts policymakers in the spotlight. Famous interviews include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former US President Jimmy Carter, former Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Joseph Chinotimba, political sociologist and leading contemporary scholar in the field of democracy studies Larry Diamond and Evan Mawarire among many others.
Born and raised in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands, Gonda has journalism qualifications from the Harare Poly-Technic and was educated at some top schools and universities including London’s City University, Stanford and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been highly influential in covering the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe over the years. Nehanda Radio