By Natasha Kokai
Government has described the late Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation diplomatic correspondent Judith Makwanya, who died on Monday, as a heroine who served her country with distinction. Makwanya died after a short illness at Westend Hospital in Harare at the age of 56.
Speaking at Makwanya’s burial at Warren Hills Cemetery in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services secretary Mr Nick Mangwana said Makwanya’s death was a loss to the entire country.
“I have nothing much to say. Where can I get words to speak? See the huge number of people who have come here to show love to our departed heroine? From our knowledge and understanding as Government and people of Zimbabwe, what has brought us here is the death of our heroine. “What can you say when you know that your heroine has suddenly departed from you like this?” said Mr Mangwana. He said Makwanya was one of the few individuals who was on the US and EU sanctions lists for defending the country’s land reform programme that saw more than 300 000 families benefiting at the turn of the millennium.
Said Mr Mangwana: “The issue of the people of Zimbabwe suffering because there are special measures (sanctions) from elsewhere were issues which were very close to Judy’s heart. “When I started working with Judith, we were working from a very different level of relationship. We were working as friends. In fact, the first time ever I appeared on ZTV, the person that interviewed me was Judith. From that moment we became very close. We used to text each other. Those days I was living in England.
“There is something that was very consistent in our interaction. Every February, the European Union would review sanctions against Zimbabwe. Before that review took place, Judith would call me and we would discuss the possible outcome. We would discuss what was likely to happen.
“After the review, we would still have that conversation. It was no longer about her being on that list because at some point she was not there but it remained about the country.
“So, if you look at the level of the people that came to bid farewell to Judith, you will be left with no doubt as to her status with people who work in the government and other officials. I want to say to the Makwanya family, we are in this together and we have no right words to share with you to console with you.”
Also present at Makwanya’s burial were Namibian ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Balbina Daes Pienaar, former Cabinet Ministers Simon Khaya Moyo and Chris Mushowe and ZBC chief executive Mr Patrick Mavhura, journalists, among many others from different walks of life.