THE Zimbabwe Independent news editor Dumisani Muleya's series of stories revealing the covert take-over of three privately-owned newspapers by Zimbabwe's intelligence services have won him the Free Press Africa Award at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalists Awards 2006.
Daily Mirror photographer, Desmond Kwande, scooped the Mohamed Amin Photographic Award for his snaps of victims of Operation Murambatsvina, a botched urban clean-up programme which left close to a million homeless.
The two journalists received their awards at a ceremony in Mozambique last Saturday.
Anna Umbima, in her citation on Kwande's work, said: "The particular photo that took our attention is of a man sitting on his bed, with a few scant possessions around him and devastation everywhere. The home that he once had, gone. I think what makes it even more poignant is a child next to him, almost oblivious to this destruction.
"It leaves you thinking, where did that family go that night and where are they now? When you look at this man sitting on this bed, there is a look of total hopelessness on his face. It leaves you thinking -- what is the future for this family? But then what is the future for Zimbabwe?"
Muleya, winner of several international awards, was in the running for the prestigious CNN Multichoice African Journalist of the Year 2006.
That award was won by Nigerian Shola Oshunkeye for his story, 'Niger's graveyard of the living'. The story was on the famine in Niger.
However, Muleya still went away with the Free Press Africa Award for his investigative work on a publicly-funded take-over of The Daily Mirror, The Sunday Mirror and Financial Gazette newspapers by the Central Intelligence Organisation.
The scandal is now commonly referred to as Mediagate in Zimbabwe.
Dr Doyinsola Abiola, one of the judges, said of Muleya's work: "He wants to see wrongs corrected. He wants the greatest good for the greatest number. For government to be accountable. For any journalist, I think this is uppermost. Dumisani was prepared to go any lengths, facing harassment and arrest to tell the story of Zimbabwe."
At least 1530 journalists from 43 African countries entered for the awards.
Chris Cramer, managing director of CNN International said: "This year has been no exception in unearthing a wealth of voices, some old, some new, from around Africa, each with a compelling story to tell, and each demonstrating a quality of journalism, and in some cases a resourcefulness and bravery in pursuing the story in the first place, and that's my deepest admiration."
The CNN African Journalist of the Year Award was founded in 1995 by Edward Boateng (formerly African Regional Director for Turner Broadcasting System Inc., CNN's parent company) and the late Mohamed Amin, to recognise and encourage excellence in journalism throughout Africa.