Zanu PF’s Winston Chitando faces stern test against veteran journalist in Gutu Central

Winston Chitando
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MASVINGO – The Mirror consultant and seasoned journalist, Matthew Takaona successfully filed his papers on Wednesday to represent Zimbabwe’s largest opposition party, the CCC in the August 23, 2023 harmonised elections.

Takaona will lock horns with Winston Chitando who is the current Minister of Mines for the Gutu Central Parliamentary seat.

Takaona who led the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), four times between 1997 and 2010 switched to Gutu Central four weeks before CCC’s nominations last month after Gutu North, the seat he originally eyed was dismantled during the delimitation process.

The award winning journalist was fired from The Sunday Mail in 2004 where he was both acting news editor and business editor by then Minister of Information and Publicity, Jonathan Moyo for defending journalists and Press Freedom.

He then started to build ZUJ and established a secretariat from scratch with the support of the Canadian Embassy. By 2006 ZUJ had one of the biggest secretariats for any trade union in Zimbabwe with 14 employees including two offices; one in Harare and another in Bulawayo. He revived the National Journalistic and Media Awards (NJAMA) in 2002. The awards had last been held in 2004. Takaona is credited with the formation of the Voluntary Media Council which today is the country’s most respected media regulatory body.

Takaona won many awards and in 2004 he won the Auxillia Chimusoro HIV and Aids Award alongside music icon Oliver Mtukudzi. The award was sponsored by the US Embassy.
In 1997, Takaona led the biggest strike in the history of the media in Zimbabwe which saw Zimpapers scaling down operations to a minimal for 11 days. Workers won salary increases of up to 300% which was not usual those days.

At ZUJ he also initiated housing projects for journalists and other media houses and secured more than 400 residential stands in Norton, Whitecliff, Ashdown and Zimre Park.

Takaona who also worked as a business reporter at the Financial Gazette was elected first president of the South African Journalists Association (SAJA) based in South Africa and was at one time secretary general of the Union of African Journalist (UAJ) based in Cairo, Egypt.

He was appointed Commissioner in the Constitutional Commission of 1999 by President Mugabe where he represented the media together with his then secretary general Basildon Peta. He served in the National Aids Council (NAC) board alongside the likes of Dr Phineas Makurira between 2004 and 2007.

He was appointed to a seven-member Media Ethics Committee by the Minister of Information ahead of the enactment of AIPPA in 2002. He was also among a panel of judges appointed to IT Awards by the then Minister of Information Technology, Nelson Chamisa.

In 2010 Takaona was appointed to the Zimbabwe Media Commission by President Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara during the days of the inclusive Government after he came fourth out of 128 candidates in interviews conducted by a committee of Parliament.

In 2007, Takaona rescued Masvingo Mirror from collapse after its proprietors including the late Dougie Hill earmarked it for closure due to lack of business. Takaona took over the community newspaper which only had two permanent employees. He set it on a growth path, employing 32 full time and part time workers.

The Mirror grew from a community newspaper with a circulation of less than 80 copies to a regional newspaper with a circulation of 6 000. Today The Mirror is the most widely read weekly independent newspaper in Zimbabwe, according to the latest (2022) ZAMPS report. It is also the second most widely read newspaper after The Sunday Mail. – Masvingo Mirror