As Zimbabwe inches closer to the next crucial general election set to end Zimbabwe’s shaky government of national unity formed in 2009, some journalists have now abandoned their pens in favour of parliamentary seats mostly in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation.
One of the potential parliamentary candidates is award-winning journalist, Geoffrey Nyarota, founding editor of the once popular independent newspaper, The Daily News
At least eight former and active journalists and radio personalities are expected to contest for parliamentary seats in the MDC-T and Zanu PF primary elections within the next few weeks.
They also include MDC founder and former Zimbabwe Mirror reporter Grace Kwinjeh, ex-ZBC anchorman Supa Mandiwanzira and his colleagues – Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda, Eric Knight and James Maridadi.
MDC-T organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa told VOA Studio 7 that there is an unprecedented number of practicing and retired media workers who want to participate in his party’s primaries at grassroots level.
Chamisa said the media personalities will be subjected to the same grueling selection process as other potential candidates.
Nyarota is currently preparing for this tough selection process set to kick off within the next few weeks.
The former Daily News boss, whose newspaper was banned by the Robert Mugabe government for allegedly promoting a regime change agenda in 2003, said the people of Makoni South have asked him to represent them in the coming election.
Nyarota, who wants to unseat MDC-T lawmaker Pishai Muchauraya, is promising the people of Makoni South more vigorous, vibrant and knowledgeable representation in the House of Assembly.
Another potential candidate, radio personality Sibanda, said he has been pushed by what he calls the ‘spirit’ of democracy and the plight of the people in Vungu constituency, Midlands Province, to venture full-time into politics under Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC formation.
However, Maridadi, who is the former prime minister’s wordsmith, said although he has not yet made up his mind about contesting in the MDC-T primaries, he will respond positively if people in Mabvuku constituency, Harare, want him to be their parliamentary representative.
His former ZBC colleague and director of ZI-FM Radio Station, Mandiwanzira, believes that journalists now want to influence political processes through the house of assembly instead of writing stories.
He is reportedly eyeing the Nyanga North constituency. Apart from Mandiwanzira, two other former journalists - Kindness Paradza and Makhosini Hlongwane - are expected to seek nominations under the Zanu PF ticket.
Paradza, who is a former publisher of Africa Tribune Newspapers Group, once represented Makonde constituency while Hlongwane is the current Mberengwa East lawmaker.
Some of the potential candidates have already started their ground campaigns, though they are facing some financial challenges.
Sibanda has already committed his savings to a grassroots campaign in Vungu constituency.
On the other hand, Nyarota believes that the grassroots campaign will not be a costly exercise as people in Makoni South are expected to contribute “a few Obamas (US dollars)” for his electoral activities.
Some of the renowned journalists who have graced the august House of Assembly include National Healing Minister Sekai Holland, Information Minister Webster Shamu and his Zanu PF colleagues - Nathan Shamuyarira, Chen Chimutengwende, Hhlongwane and Paradza.
Even if these well-known personalities win their primary elections, the road to parliament is long and sometimes dangerous.
In the 2008 poll, more than 200 people, mostly MDC activists, died and thousands were displaced due to violence allegedly perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters.
Mr. Tsvangirai, Kwinjeh, Minister Holland and several other MDC members were among those who were seriously injured.