Is Mo Ibrahim's award building or hurting Africa?

 
File Dr Mo Ibrahim,2006 Mo Ibrahim is the founder of the annual African leadership award

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I appreciate the logic and the intentions behind Mo Ibrahim's generous annual award for African leadership. How can you argue with the idea of encouraging and rewarding good governance? Not least on this particular continent.

And yet, something about the $5m (£3.2m) prize has always bothered me.

Lurking behind Mr Ibrahim's worthy aims is the niggling sense that the money amounts to an annual bribe - a bribe for not accepting bribes - dangled like a fat carrot in front of the continent's elites, in the hope of steering them towards the sort of behaviour that should surely be taken for granted.

Isn't the uncomfortable link between money and power being reinforced, rather than broken?

The fact that the prize wasn't awarded for two years, because of a lack of suitable candidates, probably made some ex-presidents squirm and fume, and, perhaps, a few incumbents scratch their chins.

But are we really to think that Rupiah Banda relinquished the presidency in Zambia last month because he was holding out for Mr Ibrahim's pension plan? Is penury a genuine prospect facing any of the continent's incumbents?

I suppose what I'm asking is whether there isn't a better, less "top-down" way to reward a whole country for championing democratic norms, rather than an individual. Could a better incentive scheme be found?

Maybe the president gets the award, and the kudos, but the cash goes to a charity or a scheme chosen by the public?

 
Andrew Harding Article written by Andrew Harding Andrew Harding Africa correspondent

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    This years award should go to Sarkozy and Cameron including NATO for their fight for and defence of democracy and human rights in Libya seemingly like "ferocious beasts."

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    African leaders stay in office for fear of neglect once they become private citizens. The idea of living in poverty when out of office is terrifying to them, thus the determination to hang on even when they are no longer wanted. Money designed to lure them away from holding on to office is one way of encouraging them to behave under internationally accepted standards of democratic practice.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    barotseland - please read the blog again and i think you'll see i was making the opposite point to the one you suggest.

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    Comment number 10.

    Africa isn't Europe but it would weird to ignore the "incentives" used elsewhere. What (generally) stops the political elite from engorging on corruption and clinging on to power in Europe? The rule of law, and the social shame engendered by a free media. That's where resources are needed. What if the AU had mandate & resources to police African states, fight corruption and ensure press freedoms.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    Give credit where it is due. what Rupiah banda of zambia has done cannot be so un-proffesionaly analysed as done in your article.
    It is unfortunate that a BBC correspondet can be so frozen in thinking to suggest that zambia's Banda handed over power in search of cash.
    your article sounds like a tipical political tabloid written in Zambia and not for news channel like the BBC.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    By the way, I strongly disagree with the suggestion that Mo Ibrahim monetary reward for good governance could be seen as a bribe. Are Nobel Prize and medals awards at the Olympics bribes?. Obviously not. Let us resist seeing everything African in a negative light.

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    Comment number 7.

    I couldn't agree with you more. I have made such suggestion to Mo Ibrahim Foundation over a year ago. Recognizing and rewarding African leaders for good governance is laudable. But, why give more money to leaders who are already wealthy? Instead, the money should fund scholarship for young Africans leadership training or seed money for budding enterprenuers.

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    Comment number 6.

    I agree with the initiative behind the award but I have also had my doubts regarding the extensive monetary prize. I can see the complications in giving the money to the governments of the countrys of the leaders that win, but it also seems excessive to give individuals such large amounts of money when their people are poor.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    Westerners squirm at the use of money in this way, but Africans are less squeamish. One of the benefits of this report is that it names and shames the people at the bottom of the list. Mugabe can no longer claim that the bad press he receives is just western propaganda. Zimbabwe's place in the bottom five of nearly every category is a true reflection - and a disgrace to the continent.

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    Comment number 4.

    At least he is trying do something to to help Africa. These are previous leaders he's still paying own his money. http://mycontinent.co/President.php

  • rate this
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    Comment number 3.

    As for Mo Ibrahim Award being a sort of bribe, I don't get that impression. Foundation appears to foster balanced approach to governance. Mo Ibrahim said Africa's young people are no longer willing to stand for selective approach to govt. Young people are demanding a holistic, equitable & inclusive approach to management of their countries, as in Cape Verde.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 2.

    Cape Verde leader, Pedro Pires, wins Mo Ibrahim award for good governance. Prize: $5million over 10 years + $200,000 annually for life = biggest annual prize in world. In addition, Mo Ibrahim Foundation will consider granting a further $200,000 per year, for 10 years, towards public activities espoused by Pires. I don't know much about Cape Verde but it's a peaceful, democratic & non-aligned.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 1.

    Andrew, thank you for your articles; I have been praying for the Somalian crisis to be kept in the news. There is one man who can solve this crisis, and that is Jesus Christ. He is present and active through the Holy Spirit.
    You are being prayed for, and will have problems because of this. Be prepared. God bless.

 

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