France honours Morgan Tsvangirai

2012-08-22 10:06

Harare - France on Tuesday gave Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai a prestigious award for his efforts in fighting for democracy in the southern African country.

"On behalf of the President of the republic (of France), we knight you, Commander of the Legion of Honour," Francois Ponge, French ambassador to Zimbabwe said at the occasion to honour Tsvangirai at the French envoy's residence in the capital Harare.

"The Legion of Honour is the highest French decoration."

Ponge chronicled Tsvangirai's rise from a trade union leader to his founding of the Movement for Democratic Change which has challenged President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party from 2000.

Tsvangirai went on to form a coalition government with the 88-year-old veteran leader after violence-marred 2008 elections.

"At the forefront of many struggles you have been imprisoned and you also organised the first mass 'stay away' in this country," Ponge said.

"We all remember the photo that raised worldwide emotion where you were shown badly swollen leaving cells where you had been assaulted."

"Those who assaulted you thought they would dissuade you from politics, sway you, bring you down, they forgot that by beating an iron you can forge a sword," he added.

Police beat up Tsvangirai in 2007 for organising a pro-democracy prayer rally.


Tsvangirai dedicated the award to the people of Zimbabwe.

"This honour is not mine. I would like to dedicate this honour on those people, Zimbabweans who have struggled with us for true democracy for the objective of having freedom in this country," he said.

The premier said Zimbabwe though independent from colonial rule in 1980, is still to enjoy full democracy.

"I give testimony to the subjection of this country to state sponsored violence, unnecessarily we have shed blood in this country. I am glad President Mugabe has stated quite openly that (there should be) no more shedding of blood," he said.

"I believe that statement represent a very positive step of this transition."

"I can assure you that as we move towards elections, let it be the end of acrimony, of hate speech, of reconciliation for the country."

Ponge noted that Tsvangirai has joined individuals like Myanmar's democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi who was decorated with France's Legion of Honour award in recent months.

Zimbabwe is planning to hold a referendum after a draft constitution was written to allow fresh elections after deadly polls in 2008 left more than 200 MDC supporters dead due to political violence.

  • morama.sebata - 2012-08-22 11:42

    Nah,there's no leader in Tsangarai except for the fact that is western master's puppet.Bob Must just get rid of this trash called tsangarai!!!!

      boby.mafi - 2012-08-22 15:49

      There is an extent to which you can blame the west for Zimbabwe's woes, beyond which point the argument becomes absurd and contradictory.You cannot use the argument to either explain or ignore Mugabe's killing of unarmed and innocent civilians like what happened during Gukurahundi and ritually at every election that Mugabe has contested.The essence of fighting colonialism was to restore the dignity of the Black citizens who had been marginalized and dehumanized by the processes of colonialism.It was to afford the majority a chance to enjoy and exercise freedom which had hitherto been denied to them.If you kill, rape, maim and use all crude ways of humiliating the same citizens that cannot be blamed on the west by any stretch of imagination except for those who have become puppets of the new ruling elite.The process of attaining independence was symbolic of installing agency in the new blacks, responsibility for their actions and policies they installed in the post independence era.In that case parroting Mugabe's argument that everyone who opposes him or calls him to order is a puppet of the west just shows how the new rulers have succeeded in disguising their oppression through this discourses and many others that act as smokescreens to hide their hideous acts.It is in itself rooted in discourses used by colonialists to dis-empower blacks as a justification for taking over their resources, namely that the blacks cannot handle responsibilities and thus has no agency.

  • lovemore.alfonso - 2012-08-22 18:15

    Lead us to the new zimbabwe

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-22 19:29

    Mugabe was also honoured in Europe with all kinds of trinkets!

      gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-08-23 11:08

      The glass bead story again.

  • patrick.buckley.712 - 2012-08-23 10:58

    Never realised the "Legion of Honour" was so worthless!

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