Outgoing Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba has won the 2014 Mo Ibrahim Prize for African leadership.
The award committee noted Pohamba’s contribution to his country’s national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of country’s consolidation of democracy. Pohamba leaves office on March 21. The Ibrahim Prize is a US$5 million award paid over ten years and US$200 000 annually for life thereafter.
The award committee noted that during Pohamba’s ten year rule he managed to improve the lives of his people, ensuring gender equality, higher literacy, access to treatment to over 80% of persons living with HIV and Aids, the introduction of social safety nets for the poor and persons living with disability.
“During the decade of his presidential mandate, he demonstrated sound and wise leadership. At the same time, he maintained his humility throughout his presidency. He was deeply committed to the rule of law and the issue of term limit,” says Chairperson of the Prize Committee Salim Ahmed Salim.
He has not used and abused his office to make personal gain
The award, launched in 2007 by Sudanese tycoon Mohammed Ibrahim, has only been awarded three times – in other years, no retired president met the criteria according to the committee.
Graca Machel, who is also part of the committee, says the criteria for the prize is rigorous and applies to everyone.
To win the prize, the leader must have left office in the last three years, been democratically elected, handed over power peacefully and changed the lives of his/her people.
These are some of the qualities that made the 79-year-old Namibian stand out.
“Cohesion and integrity; we look very much to the issue of integrity that he has not used and abused his office to make personal gain, ” says member of the committee Mohammed El Baradei.
Other winners of the prestigious award are former Presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, President Festus Mogae of Botswana, President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde and President Nelson Mandela of South Africa (Honorary).