HARARE - Thanks to the State media, we were alerted on Monday evening to a strong Twitter posting by Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Senegal and Gambia, one Trudy Stevenson, regarding an article that we published recently about the tragic death of a Zimbabwean woman in Guinea, last year.
“@DailyNewsZim This article is a disgrace to yr profession! See my letter to yr Group Editor Friday and kindly publish apology & correction,” thundered Stevenson who serves in West Africa at the pleasure of President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, even as she allegedly belongs to Welshman Ncube’s opposition MDC.
While we still have to receive her letter, we are intrigued by the venom of her Twitter posting, what really informed the undiplomatic tweet and why our story was supposedly a disgrace.
For the benefit of readers who may have missed the story, we reported earlier this month that there had been chaos in Harare last month when grieving relatives prematurely took possession of the remains of the woman whom authorities suspected may have died from Ebola.
The woman, who had been employed in Guinea as a domestic worker since 2009, died on December 18 last year, after which her remains were packaged in three body bags, covered in zinc metal sheet and then placed in a sealed metal coffin before being flown back to Zimbabwe for burial in mid January.
We also reported that in a laudable demonstration of how seriously authorities took the matter, and its potential impact on the nation, they dictated how and where the woman’s remains were to be buried.
Despite being in possession of a formal medical report and talking to authoritative sources within the City of Harare’s Health Department, we also sought and carried comment from Health minister David Parirenyatwa, who said the woman had died of a malaria drug reaction, and not Ebola.
However, the medical report that was put together by the City of Harare’s Health Department clearly stated that there was suspicion that the woman may have died from the dreaded Ebola virus.
“There were suspicions that the deceased ... could have died of Ebola virus disease,” the report compiled on January 19, 2015 said.
We didn’t create the report, medical experts said so.
So, while a newspaper worth its salt can never be too perturbed about criticism directed at it by its stakeholders, a pertinent question to ask in this case is: What is Madam Trudy smoking, and at whose mischievous behest is she attempting this hatchet job on the Daily News?
Just to make it abundantly clear, the article was fair and balanced, and as such, there is absolutely nothing that we wrote about that necessitates that we apologise and correct our story as crassly suggested by poor Trudy. In addition, this was a public interest story regarding a major global health issue.