Sandra grew up in Zimbabwe. She moved to the UK in 2002 to do a masters degree in International Journalism at City University London. Although she planned to return to Zimbabwe to take up her job as political editor at the Daily News, the newspaper was closed down by the authorities just before she went back. Sandra decided to stay in London and works for the Association of Zimbabwe Journalists. She still hopes to return to Zimbabwe. (observers).
I think the biggest challenge for us is to be able to work and to be able to break a balance and to become women leaders in the newsrooms. Most newsrooms in Zimbabwe are not headed by women, despite the fact that women are the ones that really work hard. They toil for the newsrooms, but don’t get to get the positions like becoming an editor. I’m the only political editor in the whole country, and the first one. It was sort of like taboo to leave women in such positions. So our biggest challenge is to be able to get as many women as possible in leadership positions in the newsrooms. (full interview text).
Sandra Nyaira – Zimbabwe
Courage Winner Sandra Nyaira’s Life in Exile: After winning the IWMF’s Courage in Journalism Award in 2002, Sandra Nyaira of Zimbabwe’s independent Daily News received a master’s degree in journalism from the City University in London. She never returned to her country. Instead, she became one of at least 90 Zimbabwean journalists now living in exile as a result of President Robert Mugabe’s crack downs on the independent press. Elizabeth Witchel of the Committee to Protect Journalists reported on Zimbabwe’s Exiled Press in the Fall/Winter issue of Dangerous Assignments … (full text, scroll much down). Read the CPJ article, October 19, 2005.
A cartoon, April 2, 2008: Would Zimbabwe really be better off without Mugabe?
Under current rules, Zimbabweans abroad are not allowed to vote, apart from embassy staff and others such as policemen serving with the United Nations duty. The “Rock the Vote” campaign includes billboards scattered around areas where large numbers of Zimbabweans live, especially inner-city suburbs like Berea, Hillbrow, Yeoville and Ellis Park. Similar billboards have been placed on the Zimbabwe-South Africa border. “Power to the People – We demand: one citizen, one vote, independently-run elections and an end to political violence,” reads one large poster outside Park Station, posted up by the non-government group Zimbabwe Democracy Now. Other organisations supporting the get-out-the-vote campaign include the National Constitutional Assembly, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and Crisis in Zimbabwe, CIZ … (full text).
She says also: “The government is basically trying to muzzle the independent media; trying to make sure that at least we don’t write as many critical articles about the president himself because that Public Order and Security Act actually inhibits people from writing anything bad about the president or from saying anything that they [government] considers not in order. They are trying to scare you off from writing about real issues. It is very essential for journalists to expose corruption, mismanagement of the economy, violation of human rights and related issues. So what these laws mean is that this is a government that is basically insecure and wants to use everything in their power to stop the media from writing about them. (full interview text, 16 October 2002).
The changing Zimbabwean media landscape, 8 pages, 25 February 2005.
On a chilly Saturday afternoon as rain drizzles continually from the grey London skies, Trafalgar Square slowly fillswith women from all walks of life, braving the winds andcold. Exiled Zimbabwean men and women now living in the United Kingdom descend on the Square from all directions to support the fight for democracy in Zimbabwe, to restore dignity to its long-suffering women and to highlight their vital role in the country’s struggle for freedom … Maureen is now the Gender and Human Rights Officer for the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union, and intends to return to the UK sometime later this year to complete her Masters. “The socio-economic hardships in Zimbabwe have eroded our dignity as women so much. Instead of agitating for deeper involvement in political processes and policy formulation, we are actually fundraising for things that are supposed to be basic commodities that we [should] not need to fight for”. Maureen says the situation is so bad in the country that ordinary women have no choice but to use newspapers and rags during their monthly periods. As a result many have acquired diseases which eventually lead to divorce or even abuse from partners and spouses. “It is painful and difficult to say that instead of us coming here to England and actually joining hands with our sisters and fighting for meaningful involvement in political processes, we stand here today in shame looking for something that should be an inalienable basic human right – something like sanitary wear” … (full text).
Voters Reluctant to Return From South Africa, 27th Mar 2008.
And she says: Not every journalist has access to the Internet; it really is difficult. But, there are newsrooms coming up that provide [each] journalist with a computer. I know it is very different from what happens here where all new media technologies are readily available. At the Daily News we do have computers, Web-based papers, and you can search for information on the Internet, but there are challenges like: whether you’ll be able to look for the right information using the available search engine data and being able to differentiate between information. It has been good for us to have Web-based papers and to access information because it makes it easier for us to work and more difficult for the government to control what goes in the papers and what doesn’t. A long time ago it would have been easier for government to control information that comes in and goes out of the country. It really has been good for us. (full interview text).
An air of calm surrounds Sandra Nyaira. Sitting in Edinburgh’s Apex Hotel and proudly sporting an Africawoman T-shirt, she betrays no trace of anxiety about the fact that the visa which allows her to remain in Britain runs out today. Should she return to her native Zimbabwe, the chances are, she’ll be arrested. Nyaira’s crime is to exert a right that we in Scotland take for granted – freedom of speech. As a journalist on the country’s one independent newspaper, the Daily News, her work exposing corruption within the government put her directly in President Robert Mugabe regime’s line of fire. Having spent the last year on study leave in London, Nyaira had hoped to return to her role as political editor at the Daily News. But two days ago several of her colleagues were arrested as the government once more attempted to silence any dissenting voices. Add to this conflicting reports of the state of Mugabe’s health, a general strike by health workers and you have a country that is showing no signs of stability. Despite having been in the eye of the storm, Nyaira is determined to return … (full text, Oct. 30, 2003).
BlogHer, the community for women who blog;
CJA E-letter, from the Commonwealth Journalists Association: Zimbabwe’s new independent newspaper, Issue No 7, February 2005;
Liberian orphanages steal and exploit children, October 31, 2005;
Webster’s Online Dictionary: SANDRA;
The RAM BULLETIN – Refugees, Asylum-seekers and the Media Project, No 46, Nov 2004.