Po­hamba wins lead­er­ship prize

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

NAIROBI — Namibia’s out­go­ing pres­i­dent, Hi­fikepunye Po­hamba, has won the Mo Ibrahim Foun­da­tion’s $5 mil­lion (about M54 mil­lion) African lead­er­ship prize, an award meant to recog­nise good gov­er­nance that has been pre­sented only three times in eight years.

Since it was set up by the Su­danese tele­com ty­coon in 2007, the prize has gone to three for­mer pres­i­dents, from Cape Verde, Mozam­bique and Botswana. In other years, no one was found to have met the cri­te­ria.

To win the prize, a leader must have been demo­crat­i­cally elected and have left of­fice in the last three years, serv­ing only their con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated term. The win­ner must also have dis­played “ex­cep­tional lead­er­ship”.

Although elec­tions have now be­come com­mon on a con­ti­nent once bet­ter known for mil­i­tary coups and in­sta­bil­ity, some lead­ers have stayed in of­fice long af­ter their orig­i­nal man­date, of­ten push­ing through con­sti­tu­tional changes to hold to power.

An­nounc­ing the award in Nairobi, the Mo Ibrahim com­mit­tee praised Mr Po­hamba’s com­mit­ment to the rule of law and his re­spect for the con­sti­tu­tion, as well as his pro­mo­tion of gen­der equal­ity.

Mr Po­hamba, aged 79, was first elected pres­i­dent in 2005 and is due to step down this month. The elec­tions held un­der his lead­er­ship were con­sid­ered by ob­servers to be free and fair.

Mr Po­hamba was a found­ing mem­ber of the now rul­ing South West African Peo­ple’s Or­gan­i­sa­tion (Swapo), play­ing a cen­tral role in decades of strug­gle for in­de­pen­dence from South Africa.

He was im­pris­oned in the 1960s for po­lit­i­cal ac­tivism but con­tin­ued to fight against South Africa’s apartheid gov­ern­ment un­til the end of white-mi­nor­ity rule in 1994.

He held home af­fairs and marine re­sources port­fo­lios in cabi­net prior to be­com­ing pres­i­dent.

The win­ner re­ceives $5m, given over 10 years, and af­ter that re­ceives $200 000 a year for life.

The pre­vi­ous re­cip­i­ents were for­mer pres­i­dents Pe­dro de Verona Ro­grigues Pires of Cape Verde, Mozam­bique’s Joaquim Chissano and Fes­tus Mo­gae of Botswana. South Africa’s Nel­son Man­dela was also given an hon­orary award. — Reuters

Namib­ian PRES­I­DENT HI­FIKEPUNYE PO­HAMBA (CEN­TRE LEFT) Is DUE to step DOWN this MONTH.

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