Radio Voice of the People Executive Director and Radio World contributor John Masuku was honored with the 2013 Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Press Freedom Award at MISA’s general meeting in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on June 29.
Recognizing an individual or institution that defends and promotes media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in Zimbabwe, Masuku was selected because of his work to create a diversified broadcasting environment by running a “pirate radio station” — Radio VOP.
Lacking a license, Masuku and the other radio station board members have been jailed for the broadcasts, which are illegal under the country’s Broadcasting Services Act. Undeterred, Masuku continues to strive to voice alternative political and socioeconomic perspectives while lobbying for media reform.
MISA-Zimbabwe Trustee Chris Chinaka presented the award, noting Masuku’s efforts to improve the country’s media culture through lectures, mentorship and “gender mainstreaming.” He [Masuku] seemed “shy and surprised that anyone had noted his work,” said Chinaka.
Masuku was further cited at the meeting for continuing to weather the storm in his quest for a diversified broadcasting sector in Zimbabwe, despite being vilified for operating what the authorities have deemed a “pirate radio” station. “When we do our work, we do not expect to receive any award,” said Masuku. “I am very excited and humbled to receive the MISA Press Freedom award.”
Other nominees included ZiFM’s Supa Mandiwanzira, broadcast journalist Tapfuma Machakaire and Masvingo-based freelancer Golden Maunganidze.