20 October 2012

Zimbabwe: Outrage Over EU Nobel Peace Prize

The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union has sparked outrage with local political and social commentators describing the process as a travesty of justice. The EU got the prize for reportedly promoting peace, democracy and human rights over the past six decades. The prize, worth US$1,2 million, was awarded last Friday and will be presented to the bloc's representative in Oslo, Norway on December 10.

However, some EU-member countries are accused of causing the First and Second World Wars, some illegal regime changes in African countries such as Libya and other parts of the world under the auspices of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Zimbabwe was not spared in the period under review for the Nobel Peace Prize as the country was placed under the illegal sanctions for pursuing legitimate homegrown policies such as land reform programme to empower its people.

Presenting the award in Oslo last Friday, Nobel committee chairman Mr Thorbjoern Jagland said: "The EU has transformed most of Europe from a continent of wars to a continent of peace.

"The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest," Mr Jagland said. "The Norwegian Nobel committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU's most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights."

Mr Jagland praised the EU for rebuilding Europe from the devastation of World War II and for its role in spreading stability after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

However, local observers condemned the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the bloc. They argued the bloc provoked many wars that killed and maimed thousands of people during that period.

The predatory behaviour of some members of the bloc caused suffering among many people through unprovoked aggression and the illegal sanctions in the case of Zimbabwe among other victims. A political observer, Dr Charity Manyeruke of the University of Zimbabwe, said it was unfortunate that the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize given the economic and political upheavals the bloc was experiencing.

"There are political squabbles in Spain and Greece. They are facing a host of problems -- the eurozone crisis and the organisation is failing to sustain itself financially," she said.

She said the EU countries such as France and Germany were interfering in internal matters of other countries in the bloc, resulting in public anger.

Dr Manyeruke said under these circumstances, it was difficult to note how the based organisation arrived at that and decided to award such an honour to the EU.

"The people in the bloc do not support the idea of some states interfering in the internal affairs of others. It is creating discord in terms of what the people want and what political leaders agree to do. They talk about democracy in other regions yet they have failed to deal with their problems first," she said.

Another political observer, Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa, said it was a travesty of justice to award the EU such a prize.

"They are responsible for the victimisation of Africa and its people. They are rewarded yet they are supposed to be condemned because of their predatory behaviour against people in Africa. They are responsible for slave trade and colonialism and other forms of exploitation against the people in Africa.

"The so-called peace they talk about among themselves has retarded development in some parts of the world," he said. The award was not also well received among members of the bloc.

On the streets of the Greek capital Athens where demonstrators have burned Nazi flags to protest against German demands for austerity, the award was greeted with disbelief.

"Is this a joke?" asked Mr Chrisoula Panagiotidi, (36), a beautician who lost her job a fortnight ago. It's the last thing I would expect. It mocks us and what we are going through right now. All it will do is infuriate people here."

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