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Political Figures: Famous Journalists who Ditched Newsrooms for Politics

Harare – Politicians catapult their status by manipulating media outlets – occasionally with a detrimental outcome. On rare events, journali...

Harare – Politicians catapult their status by manipulating media outlets – occasionally with a detrimental outcome.

On rare events, journalists have turned the tables to become political figures. 

Zimbabwe has an equitable breed of gifted media personalities who have persistently sought to hike the political ladder buoyed by their professional and public presence.

By @Comic24Derick

And here are some of the journalists-turned-politicians that have rewritten Harare politics.

Supa Mandiwanzira

Many still recall the imperious voice of the host on Talking Business with Supa once aired by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation. During this historic slot, the nosey presenter interrogated prominent business minds such as Nigel Chanakira.

That was then. Since his departure from the state broadcaster, Supa Mandiwanzira worked for Al Jazeera, BBC and Reuters among other international news aggregators as he cleared his avenue towards the political arena.

The former broadcaster's entry into the political domain came after the 2013 plebiscite – and according to him, “after his constituency rallied him to represent them.”
The Late Robert Mugabe and Former Broadcaster Supa Mandiwanzira 

He was later appointed as the deputy minister of Information and Broadcasting Services. His exposure came in handy. Currently, he heads the ICT ministry and operates ZiFM – an independent radio station.

Grace Kwinjeh

Arguably one of the prominent female journalists who swapped the pen to wear a political hat – Grace Kwinjeh is a Zimbabwean journalist and a founding member of the MDC, according to her profile. 

She rose within the ranks to become Deputy Secretary for International Relations and MDC Representative to the European Union based in Belgium.

Her achievement came at a price.

"I’m a child of the party and I do not want any preferential treatment. I want to go there and take part in the internal process because I don’t want to be imposed on the people. 

We are a democratic party and people should have an opportunity to choose their representatives," she said of her party. In 2012, Kwinjeh was honoured for coining the name MDC.

Obert Mpofu

Obert Mpofu was Matabeleland North governor before his elevation to a ministerial post in 2005. He has been prominent on the political track.

However, his journalistic past remains overshadowed by his current calling. Mpofu left the country to study journalism at the University of New Delhi in India. He became a reporter in Zambia – and later a manager within the Zimbabwe Newspapers stable.

Though he left the journalism profession, the journalist in him manifested with the launch of The Zimbabwe Mail – a daily that subsequently folded under financial strain.

Nonetheless, his political career and other business interests are flourishing.

James Maridadi

Growing up in the dusty streets of Mabvuku, many youths aspired to be either footballers or lesser taxing professions – and certainly not politicians.

Contrary to the ghetto notion, James Maridadi alias ‘J-Touch’ forsook the taboo. His peers witnessed his rise to stardom as a presenter on Radio 3 nowadays Power FM in the 90s.

His political quest saw him join the MDC during its creative phase. In 2009, he joined Morgan Tsvangirai’s office as Chief Spokesperson and Deputy Director of Information.

“I have always been a political animal and getting to be a legislator was not by accident. It was bound to happen at some point,” he revealed to a local publication. After vacating Tsvangirai’s office, he contested and secured the Mabvbuku-Tafara constituency.

He later confessed. “My job [as a journalist] was very political, it did not mean just playing music and producing news bulletins. I went far beyond that. It got me in touch with a number of political luminaries.”

Kindness Paradza

“You continue to describe our client as part of the dirty dozen and to republish such defamatory phrase and content despite the fact that our client has informed you of the correct position.

The US has also clarified that it never gave money to our clients nor does it have any relations with our client.”

The above statement was attributed to Paradza’s lawyers responding to articles published by a local daily publication alleging that the past journalist was involved in corrupt treaties.

Paradza’s name is linked with the Financial Gazette aka ‘The Pink Paper’ – a weekly Harare business newspaper.

The legislator cut his political teeth in the newsroom before transforming into a parliamentarian on a ruling party ticket – becoming one of the leading scribes in Zimbabwe to cross the professional divide.

He was accused of hostility towards journalists among other allegations.

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