ZANU PF has hit back at President Robert Mugabe’s opponents, particularly the opposition MDC-T, for criticising a Chinese peace prize awarded to the 91-year-old leader last month.
Mugabe was awarded the Confucius Peace Prize, dubbed China’s version of the globally acclaimed Nobel Peace Prize, after beating off competition from other contenders such as multi-millionaire Microsoft proprietor Bill Gates and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, much to the irritation of the opposition, which felt the award was not deserved.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo defended the award, saying Mugabe was “a global icon” who had also done a lot for his country.
“So is the MDC-T saying they are the ones who deserve the award? President Mugabe has been in power through elections, he has been elected by the people and we conduct elections every five years,” he said in reference to claims that he rigged elections.
Opposition parties reacted with scorn to Mugabe’s receiving the award, with some describing the veteran ruler as a sadist.
Gorden Moyo, secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Party, described the award as “insanity”.
“Mugabe, as we know him and as the people of Zimbabwe have experienced his reign, is a war-monger, a bellicosity who delights in the misery of the people,” he said.
The prize organisers, he added, “should hang their heads in shame for rewarding alleged human rights violators who masqueraded as peacemakers”.
Qiao Damo, founder of the little-known China International Peace Studies Centre, which runs the accolade, has defended the award to Mugabe, arguing the former guerrilla leader had been recognised for his “outstanding contributions” to world peace.
Qiao cited Mugabe’s “ability to stabilise Zimbabwe and at the same time, promote peace in Africa” as chairperson of the African Union.
“Unrest is quite normal,” he said. “When America was first founded, it was also very chaotic, and Zimbabwe was only founded 30 years ago.”
Moyo instead absolved Mugabe on accusations of running down the economy, instead blaming the opposition for inviting sanctions against the country.
“The economic situation was caused by the sanctions. The MDCs know very well that we are getting out of the woods now through the Look East policy and the West is stampeding to come to Zimbabwe and invest. We are receiving delegation after delegation. Our policies are very clear.
“President Mugabe deserves that award. I don’t know what the MDC has been done, except splitting and splitting. We are going ahead with the implementation of ZimAsset and the 10-point plan,” the Zanu PF spokesperson said, adding those critical of the award were “jealous”.
Mugabe’s opponents have accused the 91-year-old leader of running down a once thriving economy, persecuting political opponents, engineering genocide and electoral fraud, among many other accusations.