Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) president and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday scooped the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) Democracy Medal.
The award, given to an organisation or individual “courageously fostering, promoting and sustaining the democratic process anywhere in the world”, was presented to him at the 43rd annual world conference of the IAPC in Paris, France.
Tsvangirai becomes the second African leader to win the award after the iconic former South African President Nelson Mandela who scooped it in 1993, after spending 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid.
Previous winners of the IAPC Democracy Award include Lech Walesa (Poland) and Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma).
Tsvangirai narrowly missed the Nobel Peace Prize for the second year running this year, after the coveted award went to jailed Chinese dissident, Liu Xiabo (54).
He was reportedly one of the top contenders for the prestigious award alongside Afghanistan’s women’s rights activist Sima Samar, Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Tsvangirai was a favourite to win last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, but lost it to the first United States black president Barack Obama.
He was credited with agree despite winning the first round of presidential elections in 2008 but failed to garner the necessary votes to be declared the outright winner.
The IAPC award is sponsored by an international association of renowned experts and strategists in media, politics and democracy.
MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said Tsvangirai won the award in recognition of his “unstinting effort and courageous leadership in the struggle for democracy and freedom in Zimbabwe”.
In his acceptance speech, Tsvangirai said the medal belonged “to the people of Zimbabwe, dead and living, who have borne the brunt and pain of the struggle for democracy, freedom and real change”.
Last year, Tsvangirai won Spain’s Cristobal Gabarron Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement for his message of reconciliation to the world and his fight for democracy.
He beat 17 other nominees from Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Spain and the US to land the international award that honours people or organisations that “have been outstanding in reaching achievements that are an example to humanity”.
In 2008, Tsvangirai won a pro-democracy award at a Moroccan political-economic forum in the Mediterranean, known as MEDays.
Tsvangirai is in Paris accompanied by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jameson Timba, and Chamisa, who is also the Minister of Information Communication Technology, and other senior government officials.