No winner for Mo Ibrahim prize for African leadership: ‘None met the criteria’

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation says there is no suitable winner, again, for its Africa annual leadership excellence awards, saying none of the former African heads of State and government met the criteria.

Mo Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim

It means that recently retired presidents like Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, failed to prove they had left a legacy worth rewarding.

The announcement was made  on Thursday  that no former African leader met the requirements for the 2015 version of the yearly award following a meeting of the independent Prize Committee chaired by former Tanzania prime minister Salim Ahmed Salim.

Set up by Sudanese-British tycoon Mo Ibrahim in 2006, the Ibrahim Prize is given based on the review of a special committee that includes former diplomats, Nobel laureates, business leaders and democracy activists.

The criteria used by the committee to select a winner include the requirement that all eligible contenders be former heads of State or government who left office in the previous three years.

The leaders should have been democratically elected, served their constitutionally allowed terms and demonstrated exceptional leadership.

“The Prize recognises and celebrates African executive leaders who, under challenging circumstances, have developed their countries and strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, paving the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity.” It said.

The award is also “a standard for excellence in leadership in Africa, and not a ‘first prize’, there is not necessarily a Laureate every year,” the foundation said.

Since 2006, the Ibrahim Prize has been awarded four times.

The last winner, for the 2014 edition, was former Namibia President Hifikepunye Pohamba, whom Dr Salim described then as having “demonstrated sound and wise leadership” while maintaining “his humility throughout his Presidency.”

Other winners include former Cape Verde President Pedro Pires (2011), President Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008) and President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007). Nelson Mandela was the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.

There were no winners in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

But the foundation said on Thursday that the lack of winners last year is more indicative of the tough eligibility conditions rather than a sign of poor leadership on the continent.

“The decision by the prize committee is a reflection of the exceptionally high bar set for potential winners rather than any disappointment with the overall quality of leadership on our continent.

“The tough criteria were deliberately set to ensure only the most outstanding would be considered,” said Sophie Masipa, head of communication at the foundation.

Winners of the award receive about $5 million spread over a decade and a further $200,000 annually for the rest of their lives.

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Dr Haswel P Bandawe
Dr Haswel P Bandawe
6 years ago

The Mo Ibrahim Award is ill conceived for several reasons. First, it assumes that good governance in Africa must depend on the actions, conduct and behavior of one individual-the President. This is wrong. Good governance critically depends on strong institutions -Judiciary;Parliament; Free Press; and Civil Society. These are the pillars on which good governance depend. Second, very few, if any, heads of state would care for the little money from the Mo Ibrahim Award. Most President will steal millions if not billions of dollars from their treasuries by the time they are kicked out of office. Third, the mare focus… Read more »

6 years ago

Awa kanangonena poyera kuti alibe ndalama. Ndiye munaziyambiranji.

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