Courageous Zimbabwean politician Sekai Holland, who has a long association with Australia, was announced this week as the recipient of the 2012 Sydney Peace Prize in a ceremony hosted by the Australian Embassy in Harare.
Senator Holland, Co Minister for Reconciliation Healing and Integration in the Cabinet of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, lived in Australia for a number of years prior to 1980 and during that time completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communication at the NSW Institute of Technology, UTS's predecessor institution.
The Sydney Peace Prize jury said it had selected Senator Holland in recognition of "a lifetime of outstanding courage in campaigning for human rights and democracy, for challenging violence in all its forms and for giving such astute and brave leadership for the empowerment of women."
Professor Stuart Rees, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation said, "In addition to her work for the education of rural women and her founding of Australia's anti-Apartheid movement fifty years ago, Sekai Holland has been a significant leader of non-violent democracy campaigns, and is a key figure in her country's national dialogue on how to heal the deep wounds of social conflict."
Senator Holland said, "This award comes as a wonderful surprise, but one which is so encouraging. I accept on behalf of the brave women I have worked with for so many years and for my colleagues in our present Organ for National Healing Reconciliation and Integration. I also acknowledge the long term support and friendship which I have received from Australian Aboriginal campaigners for human rights and for peace with justice."
2012 marks the 15th year of the Sydney Peace Prize, Australia's only international award for peace. Sometimes perceived as controversial, previous recipients have included Professor Muhammad Yunus, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Hanan Ashrawi, former Governor General Sir William Deane, Australia's 'Father of Reconciliation' Patrick Dodson, the Indian novelist and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy and last year the distinguished American academic and activist, Professor Noam Chomsky.
Senator Holland will travel to Australia later this year to give the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday 7 November and will receive the 2012 Peace Prize in a gala ceremony on 8 November.