While the Internet makes global news more and more accessible for Zimbabweans, they often do not have a clue what goes on a few miles away. That is why citizen journalists of the Mobile Community Zimbabwe do what other media do not: they inform citizens of what happens in the rest of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's media-industry is small. Apart from state television it consists of a limited number of radio stations and newspapers. Independent media are seriously outnumbered. A large number of media are state related. Topics like corruption and human rights in Zimbabwe hardly receive any attention.

That is why Mobile Community Zimbabwe offers an opportunity to young Zimbabweans who do want to report on the local stories. As citizen journalists they exchange important information by mobile telephone, video and social media. This way the citizens of Zimbabwe gain access to information from and about their own country.

A different sound

Free Press Unlimited supports the project and trains participants in citizen journalism. Nada Josimovic is programme coordinator at Free Press Unlimited: “The videos show the other side of Zimbabwe due to the fact that production and distribution are in the hands of citizens themselves. This way Mobile Community Zimbabwe portrays that which national media ignore. For the people of Zimbabwe, this is a way to tell stories that are relevant to them.”

Local progress

So far, 122 citizen journalists have been trained in collecting and reporting local stories. And with success! Linda Mpofu, one of the people who took the course in 2015, investigated a bridge in Gwanda that is so narrow that people fall into the river and die. Her story managed to reach the mayor, a first and important step towards change. It was not a world-class story, but it had major consequences for the local people.