Five African Presidents miss out on latest Mo award

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Five retired African presidents failed to ‘land’ the $5 million prize money in the Mo Ibrahim Award for Achievement in African Leadership for 2019.

The Award also has a separate lifetime annual grant of $200,000 for the winner’s choice of retirement development engagement.

But, for the second year in a row, the prestigious prize went begging again as the ex-presidents did not meet the required set of criteria which usually look at the impact and legacy the candidates made and left in their respective countries.

Those in contention for the Award this time round (and their countries shown in brackets) were: Ian Khama (Botswana), Jose Eduardo dos Santos (Angola), Mulatu Teshome (Ethiopia), Ernest Bai Koroma (Siera Leone) and Joseph Kabila (DRC).

“The Mo Ibrahim Prize recognizes truly exceptional leaderships in Africa, celebrating role models for the continent. It is awarded to individuals who have, through the outstanding governance of their respective countries, brought peace, stability, and prosperity to their people,” said the Prize Committee chairperson, Festus Mogae, in a statement released yesterday.

“Based on these rigorous criteria, the Prize Committee could not award the Prize in 2019,” he sadly concluded.

Through the Ibrahim Index of African Governance – a metric that uses over 100 variables to rate governance across African countries – only five African leaders have won the award since its inception in 2007.

These have included the last winner in the series, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, who scooped the prize in 2017.

Possible candidates for the Prize – which was established by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation – are former African chief executives who were democratically elected and served their constitutionally-mandated term(s).

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s announcement that there was no winner for the 2019 Prize comes as a result of a decision that – according to the statement – had been made following deliberations by the independent Prize Committee.

In his capacity as chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mo Ibrahim himself said Africa was currently facing some of the toughest challenges in the world. These range from those connected to population growth and economic development, to environmental degradation.

“We need leaders who can govern democratically, and transform the challenges into opportunities… We are making progress. I am optimistic that we will have the opportunity to award the Prize to a worthy candidate soon,” his statement reads in part.

Analysts say with the current leadership in Africa – it will be difficult to get a leader who is outright eligible for the Award! Those who have managed to receive it (The Mo Ibrahim Award) have been truly exceptional.

Other Laureates for the Award were President Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia (2014); President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde (2011); President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008), and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007). Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela (1994-99) was the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007, according to the statement.

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