HARARE – The ZBC’s diplomatic correspondent Judith Makwanya has died.
She was 56.
Makwanya, who has been at the ZBC for over two decades, was diagnosed with high blood pressure last Thursday, ZimLive understands.
Her condition suddenly deteriorated on Monday evening when she suffered a stroke, and she died at around 11PM at the West End Clinic in Harare.
The government said Makwanya had “served her country with distinction.”
“The government learns with sadness of the untimely passing on of ZBC diplomatic correspondent Ms Judith Makwanya. Judith served her country with distinction and was one of the journalists placed on the sanctions list which became a roll of honour for patriots. May her soul rest in peace,” the Information Ministry said on Twitter.
As diplomatic correspondent, a coveted position within the ZBC, Makwanya travelled around the world with former President Robert Mugabe and continued in the role when President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in 2017.
Journalism colleagues took to social media to pay their tributes on Tuesday.
Zenzele Ndebele of the Centre for Technology and Innovation said on Twitter: “Sad to hear about the passing on of Judith Makwanya. She was someone who was very open minded and friendly.”
The Herald’s editor at large Caesar Zvayi said he was “gutted” at the news, describing Makwanya as “inimitable.”
Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described her as “an inspiring voice.”
“Tragic news about Judith Makwanya. She was a committed media practitioner and an inspiring voice who challenged crude gender barriers in Zimbabwe’s fledgling broadcasting industry,” he tweeted.
Malicious internet rumours circulated recently alleging that Makwanya had participated in a ZBC WhatsApp discussion, in which journalists voiced concern over the current government’s failures. It was alleged Makwanya hankered for the previous government of President Mugabe.
But ZBC sources have dismissed the purported WhatsApp exchanges, describing the state-run broadcaster as a “cauldron of plots and counter-plotting” as journalists compete to curry favour with politicians, often at the expense of their colleagues.
Albert Chekayi, who was the ZBC’s acting head of news and current affairs, is recovering after suffering a stroke last year.