The news on Monday that former Mozambique president Joaquim Chissano won the first Mo Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership is good for all Africa.
First of all it was an idea that was mooted, and later on financed to be developed, by an African, Mo Ibrahim, an entrepreneur not only in business but now desirous for Africa to have democratic and quality governance.
Africa is so riddled with problems that the foreign world helps us solve, that it is always good to have a very positive project not only run but also financed by ourselves. It also shows not all African leaders are failures at governance.
One of the world’s most revered leaders, Nelson Mandela states: “Mo Ibrahim has a vision to promote and recognise good governance that will drive Africa’s political and economic renaissance.”
He called on leaders in all spheres across the world to “endorse its aims and back its vision.”
The Ibrahim Index of African Governance is a ranking of the quality of governance in sub-Saharan Africa, and has just recently posted its first assessment of African countries’ performance against a comprehensive index of governance indicators, where Rwanda was declared “most improved” state in Africa.
Secondly, cynics are already deriding the prize, claiming it is too small a bribe to pay an African leader to step down from enjoying the perks of power.
This is not a bribe at all, but rather recognition and applause for an outstanding African leader. Chissano is not in power now, so one cannot say that he is being bribed to step down.
The prize just recognises his positive achievements for Mozambique in terms of achieving peace in a war-ravaged country, after which he painstakingly rebuilt the economy, the infrastructure, and made efforts to unite a deeply divided society.
Huge scores were registered in education and health - generally all aspects that make society appreciate a government’s mandate.
Lastly, when he could have remained and run for another term of office – constitutionally moreover – he graciously stood down, to give chance to another leader.
The New Times congratulates Joaquim Chissano for lighting the way towards a better-governed Africa.