Edna Machirori is a lifelong journalist and a keen columnist for various publications. She is the first black woman in Zimbabwe to be appointed News editor of a mainstream newspaper, The Chronicle and subsequently the first black woman to edit a mainstream weekly newspaper, the Sunday News. She has also worked in the Ecumenical movement under the Zimbabwean Christian Council were she edited a quarterly magazine in the early 1980s. Mrs Machirori is also a keen Human rights advocate. She holds a degree in communications from the United States of America.
She left the country from 1974-1979 to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications (summa cum laude) from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), which she won a scholarship to attend.
As a woman journalist in post-colonial Zimbabwe, Machirori rose through the ranks of newspapers including The Chronicle and The Financial Gazette, in spite of a deeply patriarchal culture. “Throughout my career, I have struggled against gender prejudice,” Machirori said. “In a patriarchal society and a profession in which national issues must be debated objectively, the willingness to do so is not necessarily seen as a plus for a woman. Such a woman is seen as an aberration from the norm of what a woman should be: docile and silent.”
Machirori didn’t set out to be a trail-blazing journalist, but she remembers being “glued” to the radio as a child in the 1950s in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. She also loved to read. “I didn’t make a conscious decision to be a journalist,” she said, but “as a child I was very interested in reading and discovering the meaning of words.” Machirori’s teachers encouraged her to write in school, and she began writing letters to the editor at the African Daily News, a nationalist newspaper based in Harare – then Salisbury, under colonial rule. “My teachers were approached and encouraged me to join the newspaper as a cadet journalist, to be trained as a journalist,” said Machirori. “That’s how I started. That was in 1963.”
After completing her studies, Machirori worked as a media officer for the Zimbabwe Council of Churches before returning to reporting in 1985, when she joined the staff of The Chronicle, a widely read daily newspaper in Zimbabwe, as a senior reporter. She worked her way through the paper’s ranks, occupying positions as deputy news editor, women’s page editor and, finally, news editor. Machirori rose to this level, previously unoccupied by a woman, during a period of post-colonial instability when women seen walking alone were routinely detained.
At The Chronicle, Machirori took many young women under her wing and taught them to be reporters who excelled in their field, as well as adept professionals who could navigate the discrimination and sexual harassment that plagued women in the media during that time. Many of the women Machirori mentored during the 1980s and 1990s have become editors and managers of news organizations.
In 1988, under Machirori’s leadership, The Chronicle published “The Willowgate Scandal,” an investigation into corruption among many high-level members of ruling party ZANU-PF, in which a state-owned vehicle assembly plant was found to be selling its cars on the black market. As a result of The Chronicle’s reporting, five cabinet ministers and one provincial governor were dismissed. The report also caused considerable backlash from the government and government loyalists, who were angry at the revelations of corruption. At the time, The Chronicle was state-owned. Machirori became a target of derision among politicians and government loyalists, but she never gave in to government pressure or attempts to censor her work. Her principles made her a target of public ridicule; she was mocked, for instance, by a ZANU-PF official in an open letter to a newspaper.
In 2004, Machirori took a position as features editor at The Financial Gazette. There, she rose to the rank of deputy editor and wrote two columns, Africa File and Personal Glimpses, both about the state of Zimbabwe’s politics and economy, under a pseudonym. Machirori was found out by ZANU-PF officials in 2006 for her incisive criticism of political corruption. A leading ZANU-PF representative penned a deeply sexist, personal attack of Machirori and published it in a state-run newspaper. Eventually, the Gazette’s editor was suspended from his position by ZANU-PF. Machirori was accused of being a sympathizer of the opposition.
- She received the Alexander Schure Award for outstanding contributions to the communications department.
- Machirori is the second IWMF Lifetime Achievement Award winner from Zimbabwe (2013).
- Lindsey Wray, , International Women's Media Foundation, Accessed: 17 June, 2020