Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has reportedly turned down the Confucius Peace Prize, known as China’s version of the Nobel, awarded in honour of his “quest for global harmony”.
According to NewsDay, State media columnist, Nathaniel Manheru (widely believed to be Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba) said Mugabe did not recognise the award.
“Not even his system takes note of the so-called award,” Manheru wrote in his weekly column published on Saturday in the Herald.
“What is more, the Chinese government makes it clear that the so-called award is not affiliated with the Chinese government.
Yet the private Press is agog, together with the opposition it is beholden to, tripping one another to pass severest judgement, hurl the bitterest epithet on the prize, which has nothing to do with Mugabe except ascription.”
That award raised the ire of critics and opposition groups who believe Mugabe did not deserve the prize, “given his bad human rights record”.
Manheru criticised the awarding institution and described it as an opportunistic “little institution”.
“The supposed recipient is mum… Even some little institution, so far away from us, seeking to raise its own profile by forcing an association with Robert Mugabe”.
Charamba confirmed to NewsDay that Mugabe turned down the award.
“The Chinese government informed the Zimbabwean government it was not associated with the conferring organisation. The matter ended there as far as government and the President were concerned,” Charamba said.
The Confucius Peace Prize was set up in 2010. It was established by a private association of Chinese citizens based in Hong Kong, known as the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts in the People’s Republic of China.