Fourteen Zimbabweans were on Thursday night honoured in the first ever NewsDay People’s Choice Awards for their outstanding voluntary work in different communities.
The seven first prize winners and an equal number of runner-ups were nominated by their local communities in the competition that has been running for almost a year.
Trevor Ncube, chairman of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), publishers of NewsDay, the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, said the awards were a “huge success”.
He commended the community projects initiated by the nominees at a glittering ceremony held at a Harare hotel.
“In the midst of political strife, economic collapse and social distress, somebody somewhere is doing something to help others and tonight those ‘somebodies’ aren’t just somewhere, they are here amongst us,” Ncube said.
His sentiments were echoed by AMH chief executive Raphael Khumalo, who described the initiative as unique.
“This is a unique occasion for those that, with no support, have used their own resources, precious hours and time for the benefit of others,” Khumalo said.
“This is important so that the whole country knows that they are making a difference.”
The awards were in seven categories, namely Arts and Culture, Education, Technology and Infrastructure, Health and Social Welfare, Sports and Recreation, Junior Citizen and Environment and Agriculture.
Among the winners were Siphambaniso Dube, who started the Ajax Hotspurs Football Club in Bulawayo, Jean Cornneck, the founder of Mother of Peace Community in Mutoko, Tatenda Songore (Youth Advocates Zimbabwe) and Eddison Gumbo, who spearheaded the Sengezana Dam rebuilding project in Gwanda.Tatenda Songore from the Youth Advocates of Zimbabwe was overwhelmed by the honour after he won the Junior Citizen award.
Ncube said the awards, whose winners were chosen by NewsDay readers, were meant to showcase those with a spirit of volunteerism.
“In NewsDay we wanted a platform on which Zimbabweans could talk to themselves, a paper that plays a role in nation building, reconciliation and reconstruction and the awards ceremony gives the readers a platform of creating Zimbabwean heroes.
“I am happy to report NewsDay has become just that,” he said.
NewsDay, which only started publishing last year, has risen to become Zimbabwe’s most widely-read daily paper overtaking government dailies that have been in the business for more than 100 years.