JOHANNESBURG. — Chipo Sabeta, is one defiant Zimbabwean sports journalist who seems to have defied the odds and her consistency in the sporting industry seems to be slowly paying her off.
A die-hard Chelsea supporter having to receive a prestigious award from an Arsenal legend summed up Sabeta’s arduous, decade-long road to a historic FIFA/CIES Network award in Zurich, Switzerland, on June 16. This is a major highlight not only to women in sports, but to people of colour.
The Zimbabwean female sports journalist-cum-administrator, who is also serving as Africa editor for the pan-African newspaper, The African Gazette, completed the international programme in sports management with the Nelson Mandela University of South Africa, emerging as the overall winner of her research project. If she had things her way, Sabeta would have preferred a Chelsea legend to crown her but the post of FIFA’s chief of global development belongs to the successful former Arsenal coach, Arsene Wenger.
“This is just an amazing moment and one of the most important scenes of my professional career. “A big thank you to my superiors at Nelson Mandela University in South Africa who mentored me and my colleagues who had my back through the turbulent journey which needed a lot of dedication, passion, and perseverance.
Becoming the first Zimbabwean female journalist to scoop the award underlined Sabeta’s resilience in a journey that started as a cadet at Zimbabwe Newspapers back in 2008.
She has had to make tough compromises and sacrifices while scaling numerous hurdles in an industry dominated by males in Zimbabwe. A day before Sabeta was honoured in Zurich, 4 717 miles away in Harare, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, was calling on media organisations in the country to promote gender balance in newsrooms where females are being forced out of the profession by sexual harassment. The latest 2022 statistics show that out of the 3 647 accredited journalists in Zimbabwe, only 843 or 23 percent are female while men occupy over 70 percent of newsroom management jobs. Female journalists are too easily stereotyped and those that choose to have families are forced out of the industry, whose working hours and conditions create problems in marriages.
Sabeta had to face many challenges in her journey while attaining a diploma in Mass Communication and Journalism at Harare Polytechnic College and a Degree in Media Studies in Harare.
She joined Zimpapers as a student on attachment and later became a stringer, junior reporter, and was a senior reporter at the time of her departure. All this was a result of her outstanding work in a male-dominated work environment. Her journey started in 2008 when she contributed to The Sunday Mail, a flagship weekly for Zimpapers. She then joined H-Metro, in 2009, and worked in different news reporting roles including courts, entertainment, and sport. Sabeta also contributed to the group’s other newspapers, The Herald and Business Weekly.
As the group expanded, she embraced the convergence and would contribute to the main radio station, Star FM and the television station, ZTN. Her commitment to work and ability to deliver resulted in her nomination to represent the group at international sporting events/programmes within Africa and in Europe and covering national and continental tournaments like AFCON as well as the World Cup. – The African Gazette