Cleric clinches award
Here now is the full text of his acceptance speech:
I was surprised to be nominated for this award because I did not expect anyone to know me in Scotland. I stand here today feeling very happy to receive this beautiful Robert Burns International Humanitarian Award. I feel I am undeserving and unworthy of this great honour.
I say I am undeserving because the cause for justice, rule of law, the respect for human rights, and decent living, have not been realised yet in Zimbabwe.
The President of Zimbabwe is also called Robert, like the celebrated Scottish Poet Robert Burns – yet he is lacking in compassion and feeling for others, unlike the poet, who was a compassionate and considerate man.
Of 53 countries in Africa, Zimbabwe had the second best economy to South Africa. Since 5 years ago our State President Robert Mugabe has become authoritarian. He lawlessly grabbed 2000 commercial farms in order to destroy the newly formed opposition party – the Movement for Democratic Change – which was a challenge to him, and to strengthen his political position, thereby destroying the economy of the country.
Of the 12 million people in Zimbabwe, 5.5 million are now in need of food aid. Many spend 4 days without food, thousands of babies and young children have died of malnutrition each year, because those who possess the farms do not know any farming. The inflation rate is 400% per annum. Unemployment is over 80%, industry closes down, 2 million Zimbabweans are infected with AIDS and do not get any proper treatment because our hospitals have no medicines and the doctors and nurses have left the country in big numbers.
It is known that 3.4 million Zimbabweans have left the country. Mugabe has rigged 3 elections to his advantage since the year 2000. He has banned 4 newspapers and all media is reduced to propaganda. The people are hounded by state intelligence and police and the President uses torture to intimidate the people and keep them afraid.
"It saddens me that Britain, since September last year, has embarked on forced repatriation of Zimbabweans asylum seekers. Some are handcuffed, jailed and badly treated here in Britain
It also saddens me that the British Government since September last year has embarked on forced repatriation of Zimbabweans who are asylum seekers. They fled from harassment, torture, and a threat to their lives and they will be made to suffer when they are returned. Some Zimbabweans are handcuffed, jailed and badly treated here in Britain. And as Great Britain is a highly respected country in the world, I am afraid that this attitude will be followed in other wealthier Commonwealth countries, as happened with the imposition of the visa on Zimbabweans in November 2002. I plead that you be patient with Zimbabweans till the situation normalises.
The little I know about the celebrated Scottish Poet, Robert Burns, shows that he had a hard life and understood the lot of the common man. He wrote the poem: ‘A Man’s a man for a’ that’ to portray the dignity of the common man. He calls on human beings to be brothers and sisters and to support one another through respect, love and service. There is no greater message in all the world than that.
In receiving this award, I do it on behalf of many others who work for peace in Zimbabwe. I also receive it on behalf of the suffering people of Zimbabwe.
Finally, I thank Lord David Steel and the Award Panel for electing me to receive this Award. I have discovered that Scotland is a beautiful place with warm-hearted lovely people. I receive this award on behalf of those who suffer from repression in Zimbabwe. I thank you all.
Pius Ncube, Zimbabwe