On October 22, 2007, the Mo Ibrahim foundation announced the first prize for achievements in African leadership. The foundation is founded by Mo Ibrahim, a telecom businessman from the Sudan, to support good governance in Africa. The prize basically encourages democracy and discourages dictators so that leaders can abide by rule of the land and accept responsibility for any mismanagement and stepping down if necessary.
This world largest prize to an African head of state whose leadership was a key in bringing peace, reconciliation, stable democracy and economic progress to his country has been awarded to the former President of Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano. The prize is 5 millions US Dollars over 10 years and 200,000 US Dollar annually there after.
President Chissano had resolved the 16-year civil war, launched by Frelimo and Renamo, which had devastated Mozambique through peaceful negotiation. President Chissano had also willingly stepped down after ruling Mozambique for 18 years without running for the third term which the constitution had allowed him. His Government was also praised for economic progress, poverty reduction programs, infrastructure development and work to tackle HIV/AIDS in Mozambique . These are some of achievements that lead to the nomination of President Chissano for this prestigious award. The former UN Secretary-General and the chairman of the selection committee Mr. Kofi Annan stated that “the Prize celebrates more than just good governance. It celebrates leadership, the ability to formulate a vision and to convince others of that vision; and the skill of giving courage to society to accept difficult changes in order to make possible a longer term aspiration for a better future.”
At the moment Mr. Chissano is a secretary of UN representatives to solve the problem between the Ugandan Government and the LRA organization fighting the government.
This first of its kind monetary prize should not be seen only as a financial advantage; it sends a huge message to the leaders in Africa that leading a nation is an unforgettable historical chance. The prize also resonates that respecting the democratic right of the people they lead has a paramount importance. Therefore, leading a nation means keeping the promise made for millions of people and working for them with sincerity and balanced mind.
Finally the prize is a historical symbol of good governance and should be accepted and abided by all African leaders. The calls of Mo Ibrahim prize is both to the leaders and the people of Africa that there must be a courage to pass power to the people and an end to ruling a nation by barrel of guns. This is a wakeup call for those who are willing to listen and have the spirit to change there history in the world.
Editorial Statement of OLF
November 4, 2007