Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards IOL a GLAD[1] for publishing a story that highlights the resilience and determination shown by children in Zimbabwe despite the challenging economic conditions. The story also highlights the diverse roles that children can play and their abilities to speak for themselves on national issues that affect them.

“PICS: Zimbabwe’s children suffer the most from economic crisis” (11/08/2019) by Farai Mutsaka is about a 13-year-old boy, Tanyaradzwa, who despite being a child and, because of the tough economic conditions in Zimbabwe, tries to balance school work, hawking cigarettes and helping to direct motorists to park their cars for a fee. He reportedly does all this in an effort to help his parents put food on the table. Throughout the article, Tanyaradzwa “who did not give his last name to protect his privacy”, is portrayed as an active citizen and a star for his family as he helps his parents while they run a small vegetable stall.

Tanyaradzwa’s voice is central to the story and is quoted extensively. For example, he is quoted saying, “I am not a street kid. I come here to sell my things, go home and use the money to buy food… I have dreams, big ones. I want to be a lawyer”

This story demonstrates that children are aware of their immediate environment and understand issues that affect them and other children in and around their communities.

This type of reporting by Farai Mutsaka is important as a demonstration that media ought to be aware of the positive things that children are doing and are involved in in their communities despite the hardships facing them or their communities. Such reporting helps challenge the stereotypes that children are passive citizens who always wait for their parents to provide for them without helping amid a national crisis such as the one facing Zimbabwe. It also challenges tendencies by the media to cover stories where children are victims or wrong-doers.[2]

This portrayal not only builds children’s confidence, but it also opens up opportunities for children’s own views to be disseminated to the public. Four pictures of happy looking children, running errands such as carrying water, accompany the story.

MMA applauds the journalist for ensuring that a child’s voice is included to the story, a story that would normally be published without one. Over the years, media has ignored the voices of children in stories that clearly should have had them. According to MMA’s report, “Children in the news: Seen but still not heard”,[3] the inclusion of children’s voices is still a huge challenge in the media.

Well done Farai Mutsaka for showing that it is possible to report stories about children living under difficult conditions in a positive way. MMA hopes that this will be a standard practice for IOL and other media.


By Ntsako Manganyi

[1] A GLAD is awarded when a journalist reports on a child responsibly and promotes his or her best interests.