Hifikepunye Pohamba. Does the name ring any bells? No? Good! I have often said that if something or someone is not in the news then they must be doing something good. This is mostly because of the ‘if it’s not bad news, then it’s not news’ principle that most media houses apply. However all of us should know this name. Earlier this month Hifikepunye Pohamba the President of Namibia was announced as the 2014 winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Although he is still officially the President he will step down later this month when his successor President Elect (and former Prime Minister) Hage Geingob takes office. The Mo Ibrahim Prize was established in 2006 to be awarded annually to an elected African President who has promoted good governance and left office in accordance with the constitution. The prize comprises of $5 million, distributed over ten years followed by $200,000 a year for life.
Since inception this is the fourth time that the prize has been awarded. This is a good and bad thing; good in the sense that it has set the standard very high and bad in the sense that it is a true reflection that our leaders are simply not performing. The other occasions it was previously awarded are: to Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano in 2007, Botswana’s Festus Mogae in 2008 and Cape Verde’s Pedro Verona Pires in 2011. The chairman of the prize committee, Mr Salim Ahmed Salim announced the winner in Nairobi, Kenya and had nothing but praise for the Namibian President. One of the many compliments he showered the President include describing this leadership as “exemplary” and equally commending the fact that “he also respected the rule of law, especially when it came to term limits.” During Pohamba’s reign Namibia has promoted gender equality, the population has also benefited from improved health and education systems, as well as making massive advances in confronting poverty. This nevertheless does not underscore the fact that the country still has a long way to go in closing the widening gap in social and economic inequality.
“Africa is not only about those who have been bad, such as Mobutu Seseseko and the rest. There are leaders who are quite humble and who continue to make great sacrifices for their people,” said Mr Mo Ibrahim – the founder and chairman of the foundation. I could not agree more, as Africans whenever we identify a leader that has truly demonstrated astounding leadership we should celebrate them without bias or prejudice. It all goes back to Africa rising, we need leaders such as Pohomba to facilitate sustainable growth so that all the generations to come do not suffer as we did.
Congratulations President Pohomba and Namibia!!