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US health award to Zimbabwe's first lady revoked

media Zimbabwe's first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa casts her vote as she accompanies her husband at the Sherwood Primary School in Kwekwe, central Zimbabwe on July 30, 2018. Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP

An award given by Harvard Health Catalyst to Zimbabwe’s first Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has been revoked after a letter protesting the prize was written by 14 top US diplomats and civil society leaders.

“A recent announcement on the website stated that Her Excellency Auxilla Mnangagwa was honorary ambassador of the Harvard Global Health Catalyst. That announcement was soon after removed for clarity,” according to the statement by Harvard Global Health Catalyst.

“To be clear, neither Her Excellency Auxillia Mnangagwa, or any other person is appointed an ambassador, honorary or otherwise, of any Harvard entity,” the statement added.

In a story dated 24 September, RFI published a story on the letter signed by 14 top US diplomats and civil society leaders that called for Harvard Global Health Catalyst and Harvard University to rescind the award to Zimbabwe’s first lady for her contribution to healthcare in Zimbabwe.

The letter detailed the Zimbabwe doctors strike currently ongoing due to poor salaries and lack of equipment and supplies. It also noted that Dr. Peter Magombeyi, president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association had been abducted for five days and was found with possible signs of torture.

The president of Harvard Global Health Catalyst has a Harvard email and had originally made the ambassador announcement with the crest of Harvard University.

In an email to RFI, a spokesperson for Harvard University stated, “To clarify, the Global Health Catalyst is not affiliated with Harvard Medical School nor Harvard University.”

The statement by Harvard Global Health Catalyst also noted that it is not authorized to speak on behalf of Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, or any other institution.

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