GRAÇA Machel — the renowned international advocate for women and children’s rights — will tomorrow night headline this year’s edition of NewsDay People’s Choice Awards in Harare.
By Our Staff Reporter
Machel, the wife of the iconic first President of democratic South Africa, Nelson Mandela, will be the guest of honour at the annual awards that are designed to celebrate successful human endeavours in which individuals positively contribute to the development of their communities.
Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) chairman Trevor Ncube said the concept was a demonstration of the significance of “good news at a time when bad news” often dominated national debate.
AMH is the publisher of NewsDay, the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard newspapers.
Tomorrow will see 55 candidates shortlisted from the 110 nominations battling for honours in the categories of arts and culture, education, infrastructure development, environment, agriculture, health, social services, sports and recreation, and junior citizen.
The winner and first runner-up in each category will scoop several prizes.
The judges will be the same as of last year — Lovett Manduku, Harare mayoress Fikile Masunda, Joseph Malaba, Musekiwa Makwanya and Ropafadzo Mapimhidze.
The guest of honour, Machel, is a former Education and Culture minister of Mozambique between 1975 and 1989.
She led a movement that saw the increase in primary school enrolment from 40% of children in 1975 to over 90% of boys and 75% of girls by 1989.
She is also a co-founder of the Forum of African Women Educationalists, an advocacy network which has been a reference in the promotion of education for girls and their empowerment in Africa.
Machel is the founder and president of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique.
She is revered as a builder of civil society and a promoter of community-based development.
Other organisations she founded or co-founded, include the Institute for Child Development, Mandela Institute for Development Studies and the Graça Machel Trust which advocates for women and children’s rights, as well as good governance and democracy.
Machel is reputed for having gained international recognition for her many achievements, with awards that include the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger from the Hunger Project in 1992, the Nansen Medal in recognition of her contribution to the welfare of refugee children in 1995, the Global Citizen Award of the New England Circle in 1997, the Inter Press Service’s International Achievement Award for her work on behalf of children internationally, the Africare Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe.
Ncube said: “The NewsDay People’s Choice Awards is our definitive demonstration that good news can and will make the news! Good news means that we are celebrating one more child who gets to complete their schooling. We are celebrating one more community that has access to clean drinking water.”
Ncube said it was heartening that regardless of the political strife, economic collapse and social distress stalking the country, there were people working with limited resources to uplift other people’s lives.
He said the awards were a celebration of people who made a difference in their communities through giving selflessly for no financial gain, but driven by “a spirit of volunteerism and living a life of servant leadership”.