You’d be hard pressed to find many more people on planet Earth less deserving of a “peace” prize that Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. And yet Mugabe was just named as the winner of the 2015 Confucius Peace Prize.
For those unaware, the People’s Republic of China launched the answer to the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, in response to the Nobel presentation of a Chinese dissident.
Despite the prize being awarded by a private institution, the validity of its intentions has come under question. It is been suggested as targeting those that benefit China’s geopolitical position rather than peacemakers, for example both Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin.
The same is true in this case, though when questioned about Mugabe’s poor track record regarding political dissent and economic guidance, the chairman of the committee that awarded Mr. Mugabe with the Prize, Qiao Damo, told The Guardian that “Every country’s economy has its highs and lows. Though its economy is lagging behind, [Zimbabwe is] a very stable country [and] stability is precious in the African continent.”
While the Western reaction is well-known, one would likely also have interest in what Zimbabwean opinion is on the matter.
The largest news outlet in the country, The Herald, is a state-owned enterprise according to the Zimbabwean Stock Exchange, and is commonly regarded as the government’s mouthpiece. But it has been remarkably silent on the matter.
While The Herald lacked any specific coverage of the honor bestowed on Mugabe, it did offer a piece somewhat touching on the subject which suggested that Mugabe is trying to downplay the importance of the award.
This may have something to do with his desire to not stir negative public opinion as another Zimbabwean outlet featured a scathing piece lambasting the award.
While this is purely conjecture, it seems that there is a swath of Zimbabwean society that isn’t fooled by international gamesmanship. And the state has seemed to take notice.
Cover Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)