Harare, December 7, 2013 – A Zimbabwean legal defence group, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on Friday honoured Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s celebrated elder statesman who passed away on Thursday, with its human rights lawyer of the year award.
Mandela died peacefully at his Johannesburg home on Thursday after a prolonged lung infection.
ZLHR announced Friday that it had posthumously granted Mandela its human rights lawyer of the year award to honour him for the role he played to uplift the lives of the oppressed, vulnerable and marginalised members of society and for fighting for the dignity of all human beings.
The human rights organisation said as a lawyer Mandela had contributed to uplifting society and easing the suffering and oppression of the vulnerable and marginalised members of society.
“This great person has been an inspiration for human rights lawyers throughout Zimbabwe and the wider African region, and reminds us there are still giants within our society who are willing to fight for precious values and further defend and extend our rights and freedoms – not for personal gain but in public service and because they believe in a free and fair society,” ZLHR said at a ceremony held in Harare on Friday to mark International Human Rights Day.
Mandela, ZLHR said had in his lifetime ensured persecution and used his professional legal skills for the betterment of humanity and sacrificed his legal career and family for the national good.
“Our legal profession, our country, our continent, and the world at large have been inspired by the example of the dear departed Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,” ZLHR said.
Mandela was elected President of South Africa in 1994 in a fully representative democratic poll and stepped down in 1999.
In 2008, he criticised President Robert Mugabe and said Zimbabwe was suffering a failure of leadership.
But Mugabe hit back in 2013 and accused Mandela of being too soft on whites after he extended a hand of reconciliation to former apartheid regime leaders who had ill-treated him for more than two decades.
The human rights organisation said it will give the award to the anti-apartheid icon to his Foundation and will establish an annual scholarship in Zimbabwe to assist children who excel in academic studies but who may not have yet had the opportunity to be inspired and assisted to possibly become the next icon in the struggle for a better society.
Meanwhile, ZLHR also saluted some lawyers among them feisty human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, Passmore Nyakureba, Kossam Ncube, Advocate Eric Matinenga and David Tandiri for committing to advancing human rights despite the incessant attacks they faced in executing their work.