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Two Zimbabwean women receive France's Highest Award of Honor
Jonga Kandemiiri, VOA News
March 29, 2011

Two Zimbabwean female personalities, rights activist Jestina Mukoko and National Healing Co-Minister Sekai Holland have been awarded the prestigious French National Order of the Legion of Honour, for what French authorities termed their outstanding virtues in serving their country and others.

French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Francois Ponge handed the awards to Mukoko and Holland at a ceremony in Harare, recently.

Ponge said the award is given to individuals with outstanding virtues and whose purpose is to serve, fight for freedom and have values that unite all mankind. The award was establised in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte as a way of honoring civilians and soldiers, as well as recognizing anyone who exhibited merit.

"The hope that you give to an entire nation, by your action in favour of human rights and democracy, the hope you give to the people around the world to see the core values of humanity, beyond cultural differences, defended everywhere on this planet," the French Ambassador said.

Mukoko, whose Zimbabwe Peace Project civic organisation is known for documenting rights breaches by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, was in 2008 abducted by state security agents and subsequently charged with treason.

Holland, a long-time activist with the Movement for Democratic Change and now National Healing Minister in the unity government, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that in her 68 years, this was the first award she has received, adding, she felt inspired to continue with her work.

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