Harare, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean journalists and media have welcomed the donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) handed over to the media organisations on Monday as the country’s media continues to join forces with the government to fight COVID 19.

The handover ceremony was held at the privately owned radio station ZiFM Stereo in Newlands in the capital. The donation included 8000 facemasks, 8000 surgical latex gloves,  100 reusable protective suits as well as 852 bottles of hand sanitisers.

Fojo Media Institute (Fojo), International Media Support (IMS) and the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), facilitated the major supply of the PPE.

Soon after the handover ceremony, the protective gear was distributed to the media throughout Zimbabwe by local partners Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) and the Advertising Media Association (ADMA).

The support has been made possible with funding from the Swedish Embassy in Zimbabwe, through Fojo’s and IMS’s Zimbabwe Media 21 (ZimMedia) programme, as well as the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), through WAN-IFRA’s Women in News programme.

Speaking at the event, Nyaradzo Makombe, the Station manager for Capitalk FM, part of the Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited (Zimpapers Limited), the largest media group with interests in several newspapers titles, television and radio stations, applauded the Swedish embassy for the donation.

Makombe, a member of the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, said the donation would go a long way in protecting journalists, in particular female journalists, who make up the majority of the reporters covering the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is a timely donation and boost to our journalists who are in the frontline of the wat against COVID 19 in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Hatred Zenenga, the editor of Herald, Zimbabwe’s largest circulating daily newspaper, was equally effusive.

“We are very grateful to the embassy of Sweden, Fojo and WAN-IFRA for coming to the rescue and providing help when it‘s needed most. Journalists, just front line health workers, they need confidence and to feel safe to deliver,” said Zenenga, adding that the donation will go a long way to assist Zimpapers several divisions which include radio, television and newspaper division.

Tabani Moyo, the chairperson of MAZ who doubles-up as the national director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter, thanked the embassy of Sweden profusely for the gesture of solidarity and support for the Zimbabwe journalists.

“Journalists in Zimbabwe face the threat of contracting the deadly virus and also getting attacked, arrested and imprisoned in the course of their work. During the lockdown 15 cases of violations by the Police were recorded until MISA Zimbabwe went to court,” said Moyo.

Njabulo Ncube, the national coordinator of the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, chipped in, saying it was timely intervention for vulnerable journalists and their respective media houses.

“As Zinef we have witnessed our journalists going to the war zone, the hospitals without the requisite protective gear. We are aware of an incident were journalists were chased out of a recent cabinet media briefing because they did not have face masks so we are naturally grateful to Fojo, IMS, the World Association of News Publishers and the Swedish Embassy in Zimbabwe for this intervention,” said Ncube.

Simbiso Marimbe, speaking on behalf of Fojo/IMS, was hopeful that the donation will go a long way to prevent the spread of the disease to journalists as well as enable them to better execute their jobs.

The event was attended by journalists from different media houses and members of the Advertising Media Association.