Everyone knows of the sayings of Confucius, sometimes heard in the form of jokes, but it was no joke when China awarded Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe the Confucius Peace Prize this week.
According to the organizers of the Confucius Peace Prize, President Robert Mugabe was chosen for this year’s award for having “worked hard to bring political and economic order into the country and to improve the welfare” of his people.
IOL reports that the opposition to Mugabe’s government is up in arms about the nomination, saying it is “an attack on the people of Zimbabwe.” They have slammed the decision to award the Chinese version of the Nobel Peace Prize to the controversial leader Robert Mugabe, who has stayed in power for the last 35 years
Speaking of the hundreds of opposition supporters who were reportedly attacked to ensure Mugabe won the 2008 elections, Luke Tamborinyoka, spokesman for the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the Confucius Peace Prize award is “an attack on the people of Zimbabwe who bore the brunt of state-sponsored violence.”
Pointing out that several pro-democracy and human rights activists have disappeared in Zimbabwe in recent months, Kumbirai Mafunda for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights also slammed the award of the Confucius Peace Prize to Mugabe. According to him, it is “perplexing that any serious organization would consider President Mugabe for any honor,” let alone the Chinese equivalent of a Nobel Peace Prize.
When he took power in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s minions redistributed the land belonging to 6,000 white farmers, often killing or brutally maiming the farmers, and then handed over the land to more than 200,000 black Zimbabweans.
When Robert Mugabe lost his ties with the West in the past due to human rights abuses in the country and the often violent expulsion of white farmers from their land, he turned to the Chinese. Zimbabwe then formed strong economic relations with China, which continue to this day.
The organizers of the Confucius Peace Prize say Mugabe has improved the educational system in the country, and empowered black people with the redistribution of this land. His opposition says he mostly gave the land to his “cronies,” and that said farms no longer provide sufficient food in what was previously known as the “breadbasket of Africa.”
In a recent blog, the New York Times points out that Mugabe has “crushed political opponents in his country, overseeing the beating, intimidation and deaths of democratic challengers and their supporters.” Their report continues that Mugabe’s economic policies have led to rampant inflation and poverty in the African country.
It is currently unknown if Robert Mugabe, whose health is apparently failing at present, will travel to China to collect his prize money of some 500,000 yuan (almost $79,000). George Charamba, the president’s spokesman, declined to comment on the award, saying he had not yet been briefed on the issue.
In other recent news about Robert Mugabe, back in September, Mugabe read the wrong speech in an opening session of the Zimbabwean Parliament. Mugabe, 91, repeated the same 25-minute speech he gave during his State of the Nation address in August, right through to the very end, totally unaware of the error.
In earlier news, back in February this year, when Mugabe suffered a fall from the podium while giving an address to his supporters, journalists were told to delete the photos they took of the incident. Naturally, many photographers kept the “offending” photos, which ended up going viral as funny memes on the social media.