|Known for||Being A Journalist|
Violet Gonda is a Zimbabwean journalist based who spent 17 years in London, United Kingdom after going for studies only to be denied entry into Zimbabwe by the late former President Robert Mugabe's regime. She interviewed 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.
In 1996, she began her career in journalism as a television production assistant for Edwina Spicer Productions, a television production house specializing in political documentaries. In 1999, Spicer started the Media Monitoring Project – Zimbabwe (MMPZ) with Gonda to monitor Zimbabwean media. They worked on producing political documentaries which would not be broadcast on the heavily censored [Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation]] (ZBC). At Edwina Spicer Productions, the team travelled out to villages for community showings and began monitoring the ethical standards of Zimbabwe’s media. This was the start of the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ). In 2000, Gonda spent 6 months with the BBC’s World Service’s Focus on Africa and Network Africa. She has been with SW Radio Africa in London as a producer and presenter since its inception in 2001.
After SW Radio, Violet studied and worked for Voice of America – Studio 7 in Washington DC and was in demand internationally as an expert reporter on Zimbabwe’s political crisis, while in exile in the UK, the USA and South Africa. She also worked with a small group to launch 1st TV from South Africa. “This was a cheeky and highly successful short-term free-to-air television station that sought to bring accurate news and information to Zimbabweans in the 2013 election” she says.
She utilised social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and recently set up web broadcasts on Hotseat with Violet Gonda, which features long form interviews as critical analysis of Zimbabwe as a country not returned to democracy.
She sits on the Executive Board of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), a global journalism organization with a mission to advance the impact of women in media. IAWRT has a membership of around 600 journalists, mainly from the Global South.
She won an international award for best radio documentary from the International Association of Women in Radio and Television and her radio station received a team Free Media Pioneer Award from the International Press Institute, both in 2005. In 2006, her station was awarded the International Station of the Year from the Association of International Broadcasters. That same year, Gonda was a nominee for the International Press Freedom Award by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and was a Stanford University Summer Fellow in their Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. Gonda was also a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford in 2008.
Banned from returning to Zimbabwe
In 2002, Gonda was banned from returning to her home country by the Zimbabwean government under the late former President Robert Mugabe because of her journalism work with with SW Radio Africa in London. She was able to return home because the unthinkable had happened. After being in power for 37 years, 93-year-old Robert Mugabe was finally forced to resign. “It happened so fast. I never thought this day would come. I had spent almost two decades exposing Mugabe’s excesses but when he was finally removed from power, I was in the Philippines at the IAWRT Biennial conference” Violet said.
Detained by CIO agents at State House
Violet Gonda was briefly detained by Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents in October 2018 while filming at State House. The freelance journalist had been covering a breakfast meeting between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and business executives.
Gonda, who was streaming online, had just attempted to get an interview with Sakunda Holdings boss Kuda Tagwirei and was interviewing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangudya when she says some CIO operatives confronted her and asked for her accreditation.
“I didn’t have it on me and I had also left my ID with security. To get into State House grounds, we went through two security checkpoints and I was cleared at both,” Gonda said.
- John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford, John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford, published: No Date Given, retrieved: September 5, 2016
- Kells, , ZIMetro News, Published: 21 March, 2018, Accessed: 18 October, 2020
- VIOLET GONDA, Pay Desk, published: No Date Given, retrieved: September 5, 2016
- Tony Karombo, , ZimLive, Published: 29 October, 2018, Accessed: 18 October, 2020