October 20, 2008

Former president honoured for leadership

The former president of Botswana has received a more than US$5 million prize that recognizes good governance in Africa. Festus Gontebanye Mogae, who led Botswana from 1998 to 2008, was chosen Monday as the winner of the 2008 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
Kofi Annan, the chairman of the prize committee and former United Nations secretary general, said Mogae won prize for outstanding leadership that had ensured Botswana's ongoing stability and prosperity. "The prize committee believes that good governance requires an environment conducive to peace, security and development, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. Botswana has had to address the challenge of advancing each in a balanced way," Annan said. "President Mogae's outstanding leadership has ensured Botswana's continued stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV/AIDS pandemic which threatened the future of his country and people," Annan said.
Mogae studied economics in the United Kingdom and eventually returned to this country where he worked for the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Botswana. He was vice-president for six years before he became the leader of the country in 1998. He stepped down this year.
Former president of Mozambique Joaquim Chissano was the inaugural winner of Ibrahim Prize. The prize includes $5 million over 10 years, followed by $200,000 a year for life. It could also include another $200,000 a year over 10 years to support Mogae's "good causes." The Ibrahim Prize was founded by British cellphone tycoon Mo Ibrahim, who was originally from Sudan. The award was introduced as a way to encourage future generations to exercise good governance in Africa. But some critics have accused Ibrahim of wasting his money trying to bribe African leaders into behaving themselves.
Critical remarks also came from the London-based NGO „Survival“. Its spokesperson said that the award made a mockery of 'good governance' and ridiculed Mogae for persecuting the Bushmen throughout his tenure as president. Survival mocked Mogae's award because the organisation believes that he presided over the eviction of the Kalahari Bushmen from their ancestral land. (rts / Mmegi Online, Botswana)

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