Mo Ibrahim Governance Prize Is A Social Ridicule
Once again the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced its annual governance prize to African corporate and executive leaders. It announced on 16th may 2016. But unfortunately, the seven-member prize committee had failed to find a winner for the 2015 award; No African leader met the criteria for the prize.
The prize was launched ten years ago and it carries a value of 5 million US dollars to the winner. So far the prize has been awarded four times since it was established in 2006: Mozambique's Joaquim Alberto Chissano, Botswana's Festus Gontebanye Mogae, Cape Verde's Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires and Namibia's Hifikepunye Pohamba. South Africa's Nelson Mandela was awarded an honorary prize in 2007 with reasons known to the committee.
The five criteria for the prize for former leaders include democratic election, serving of a required mandated term and the demonstration of exceptional leadership. With offices in London and Senegal, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is an African Foundation set up to put governance at the centre of any conversation on African development.
However, study of African politics and governance show that the above criteria are not the popular values in African political culture. Rationality that go with African politics go beyond the above ivory tower cosmetics, for example, Rwandans want Kagame to be the life president, half of the population of Uganda love Yoweri Museveni.
The people of Kenyan unanimously voted for Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto to be the president and the deputy president, surprisingly these two people by then were the ICC criminal suspects facing charges of rape, murder and crime against humanity. And Ruto in particular had been convicted by the high court for having corrupted and usurped land from the lawful owner. Mo Ibrahim needs technical understanding of such political facts before he keeps on dangling his carrot.
Contrastingly, it is obvious that this governance prize is achieving nothing nor helping Africa in any way to overcome its governance challenges. Technically it is an institution dancing to the tune of Western attitude towards politics in Africa. The punitive approach of using money as a motivation to good leadership cannot work in the modern world. It is unfortunate that the prize is too mechanical, under-researched, in-efficient, un-appealing, un-justifiable and un-intelligible. Leaders don’t go tyrannical because they lack money, several things direct passions of a man or a woman in power. Future promise of money alone cannot change the current psychology of the person in power.
The most miserable part of the Mo Ibrahim prize, that makes it look a social ridicule is the amount of money in a prize. It is too small. For example a junior accountant at Moi University in Kenya has been able to swindle more than 5 million Us dollars in three years, a politician in Kenya is able to swindle a hundred million Us dollars in a year, thus going by the technical truth in the psychology of game theory no rational human being can avoid to steal 100 million US dollar that because he or she is waiting for a miserable 5 million Us dollars that will skeptically come in the uncertain future.
Political leaders like Paul Biya who has been prime minister or president of Cameroon for 40 years, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, president of Equatorial Guinea for 36 years, Jose Eduardo dos Santos who has been leading Angola as president since 1979 and President Robert Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, don’t need a prize of 5 million US Dollars, in fact to make this is big joke. Surprisingly all up-coming politicians in Africa admire Mugabe and the likes of Mugabe.
It is also a mind-boggling experience to realize that even those political leaders in Africa being praised by the Western powers for being democratic only end up to be dictators, like Paul Kagame has now extended his term of presidency to indefinite duration in spite of praise for him by the Western powers. The connotation is that no African political leader admires Mo Ibrahim prize, the reason for this is that the prize is too miserable.
Thus, if Mo Ibrahim wants to be part of the African struggle for achievement of stable, inclusive, secure and democratic governance, he is then forced to stop being cosmetic, he must move beyond the Western way of looking at Africa and realize that leaders of resource rich nations like those in Africa don’t need his sardonic and miserable prize, let him donate that money towards African soldiers fighting the Alshabab in Somalia or give it out as a scholarship to African students researching on Ebola and special viruses like HivAids.But the present crisis in African governance cannot be ameliorated in a cosmetic approach like the one Mo Ibrahim took.
Alexander Khamala Opicho
From Lodwar, Kenya