SW Radio Africa wins top accolade

LONDON – A team of Zimbabwean journalists based in Borehamwood have been named Broadcasters of the Year.

Short Waves Radio Africa received the accolade as part of the inagural Southern Africa Achievers Awards, which celebrate the work of South Africans across the UK.

Gerry Jackson, the station’s founder and manager, was pleased the group’s work had been acknowledged. She said: "It is heartening to know that your work has been recognised."

SW Radio Africa has been based in Borehamwood since 2001, and broadcasts over short-wave transmission and the internet from Kinetic Business Park, in Theobald Street.

Ms Jackson was born in Kent but spent most of her life living in Africa. She had worked as a journalist in Zimbabwe, but was forced to leave after president Robert Mugabe introduced strict limitations on Zimbabwe’s media.

"I had challenged the government’s monopoly in the Supreme Court," Ms Jackson said. "But the hearing was shut down at gunpoint after six days."

Ms Jackson then came to England, determined to continue getting independent news across to the Zimbabwean public.

The eight-strong team receives 250,000 hits on its website each day from a worldwide audience, and its texting service also sends the headlines to 30,000 Zimbabweans every week. However, Ms Jackson does not believe these figures are representative of the true following.

She said: "There is very little broadband connection in Zimbabwe, so not everyone can access the internet.

"We have 30,000 subscribed to our service, but we had to limit it at that because this kind of service costs. We could have had hundreds of thousands, because everybody loves getting the news."

The award was presented at a ceremony at Stratford Town Hall, in London, on August 15 and MEP for the East of England, Richard Howitt, visited the studios on Friday.

A spokesperson for Mr Howitt praised the dedication of the team. "The work that they do is crucial," he said. "It is a fantastic achievment." (This is London)