Tsvangirai was in 2009 among the top contenders to win the peace Nobel but it controversially went to US President Barack Obama.
Bookmakers PaddyPower.com are giving Tsvangirai 8-to-1 odds of winning the peace Nobel alongside former UN rights commissioner Mary Robinson, in a field led by Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who the bookmakers have given 6-to-1 odds of landing what many consider the world’s best award.
The son of a poor peasant farmer, Morgan Tsvangirai first rose to prominence in the 90s as the leader of the once powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. He later founded the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to try to end President Robert Mugabe’s iron fisted rule, but met with increased repression from the veteran leader.
Tsvangirai has survived several assassination attempts, been brutally assaulted and tortured, while several hundreds of his supporters have been killed during a 10-year struggle to topple Mugabe and his ZANU PF party from power.
The MDC leader almost succeeded in dethroning Mugabe when the MDC defeated Zanu (PF) in a parliamentary poll in 2008, while he beat the veteran president in a parallel presidential election but with fewer votes to avoid a decisive second round run-off ballot.
Analysts had strongly tipped Tsvangirai to win the run-off election but he withdrew from the race citing state-sponsored attacks against his supporters. His withdrawal allowed Mugabe to win uncontested.
But Mugabe’s blood-soaked victory was rejected by the international community including some of his African allies forcing him to agree to form a power-sharing government with Tsvangirai and Deputy Primer Minister Arthur Mutambara.
Liu, the bookmaker’s favourite to win the Nobel, is a poet and literature professor, who is serving an 11-year jail term for “inciting subversion of state power” — after signing a 2008 manifesto calling for democratic reform in China.
Others whose names have been mentioned as possible contenders for this year’s peace Nobel are Afghan women’s rights campaigner Sima Samar and the Democratic Voice of Burma, a media group that broadcasts pro-democracy messages into the army-controlled country.
The Memorial, a human rights group working in the former Soviet Union countries is also among those seen as likely to win the top accolade.
The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on October 8. A few months ago, Tsvangirai was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Pai Chai University in South Korea. It was s the 13th such honorary degree conferred to an individual in the 125-year history of this United Methodist Church institution.
In his citation upon conferment of the degree, Pai Chai University President, Professor Soonboon Chung said, “In recognition of the enormous contributions made; as a human rights activist struggling to improve the conditions and welfare of the needy both at home and abroad; as a tireless politician endeavouring to to lay the cornerstone of democracy in Zimbabwe; the Graduate Council of Pai Chai University hereby confers the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws to Mr. Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.” Afrik News