FROM a refugee church camp in Johannesburg, a Zimbabwe journalist built a Pan African News Agency, giving employment to 69 scribes across African countries.
Armed with determination and backed by ‘his Jehovah’, the Chiredzi born journalist, Savious Kwinika established, Centre for African Journalists (CAJ), which today has a presence in more than 20 African countries.
The refugee cum media entrepreneur, assembled his award winning CAJ News Agency from under a tree in Braamfontein.
“I started CAJ News in 2006 literary from under a tree. We had to deal with daily
embarrassment of being chased by South African Police Service (SAPS) who targeted us because we were refugees.
Like I said, my trust lies upon the sovereign Lord, who is the true living Jehovah God,” said Kwinika in an exclusive interview with Zim-Abroad.
Apart from providing the sought after copy to main stream newspapers and radio stations, CAJ was crowned the best Pan African News Agency in 2016 by a United Nations affiliate, Hope Africa.
The News Agency was rated top in 2015 by Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari’s governing Party, All Progressive Congress.
The CAJ website is becoming a media authority in reporting on technology.
Some of the papers feeding from CAJ News Agency’s wire copy include The Star, Daily Sun, City Press, African Independent, The Herald plus most of the entrenched publications in West Africa.
Kwinika believes that news was not about negatives stories, maintaining that CAJ News Agency was focusing on telling a positive African story.
Kwinika, a staunch believer in God who he fancies him as ‘Jehovah’, studied Journalism at Wits University before trying his hand in Mzansi’s job market.
Stung by a refugee low salary in the media, Kwinika dumped his job at Daily Sun to start CAJ with a group of other unemployed Zimbabwe and South African journalists.
” I raised the money for starting my news agency from freelancing to both local and international media houses. However, it was not easy and conducive working for such media houses, not that I was segregated, but the documents I was using (asylum seekers’ permits) always worked to my disadvantage. I could not be paid salaries commensurate with my qualifications, but based on my refugee status. I became a second class citizen wherever I secured employment,” said Kwinika.
All members of his original team deserted him to take-up employment in established newspapers where salaries, pensions and comfort were guaranteed.
But Kwinika held-on to the fort.
“To cut on costs, we used public internet cafes as our newsrooms as we could not afford to rent office space. We also used public transport to attend events and chase news. It was not easy, but Jehovah kept us going until a break-through came after we started signing contracts with media houses,” said Kwinika.
Continued Kwinika: “Our copy was so distinct to an extent that editors began looking for us asking CAJ to supply them with news.”
Kwinika has a different tale to make 11 years later. CAJ News Agency is now operating in a spacious newsroom at a plush business office park in Blairgorie outside Randburg in Gauteng. His reporters who are dotted throughout Africa now drive ritzy cars on the fast lanes chasing news.
His newsmen have been to different parts of the world reporting news on technological development under the wings of CAJ News Agency.
Savious’ Jehovah is great, he gave him millions to build his News Agency. But the millions were not in monitory terms, but in vision and fortitude.
“It was not easy to register the News Agency as a business in South Africa as there were too many prohibitive requirements, but I do not know how I managed. Jehovah provided the way,” said the prayful Kwinika.
He however warned Zimbabweans starting businesses in foreign countries to develop shock-absorbers.
The former Standard weekly Newspaper Bulawayo Bureau Chief found himself in the rough streets of Johannesburg in 2004 after running away from media persecution in Zimbabwe. The humorous had nowhere to lay his head which prompted him to seek refuge at Methodist Church in Braamfontein where he was warmly received by Bishop Paul Verryn.
Although Kwinika does not regret migrating to Johannesburg, but he has intentions to relocate back to Zimbabwe in the immediate future.
“Of course I shall return and settle permanently in Zimbabwe. That country is my home which I love with all my heart. But for now, we need to make our country habitable before streaming back,” said Kwinika.
Kwinika did his my primary education at Bani School in Hippo Valley Estates before enrolling at Masvingo Christian High School for his secondary education
Kwinika is married to Chiedza Chokera-Kwinika and are blessed with two children Parker and Khesani