Masire warns African leaders against bad governance, graft

Former Botswana president Ketumile Masire has warned African leaders against bad governance and corruption saying these problems not only undermine service delivery, but also imposes heavy costs on the economy.

Hazel Ndebele

Masire’s remarks come ahead of the announcement of the Mo Ibrahim index on African governance results in London on Monday.

The Ibrahim index is a statistical assessment of the quality of governance in every African country. Former Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba was in March awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership for 2014.

“Bad governance doesn’t just undermine service delivery, it retards development, and it also drives violence,” said Masire.

“Corruption imposes heavy costs on the economy and distorts development policies. It hurts the poor disproportionately by diverting funds intended for development. It undermines government’s ability to provide essential services. It fuels inequality and injustice and discourages foreign investment.”

Masire, who is also a Mo Ibrahim Foundation board member, made the comments during the opening of the first international conference on governance and service delivery in developing economies in Kampala recently.

The conference was hosted by Uganda Management Institute and sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme. It was aimed at coming up with new approaches to public sector reforms and development agenda for developing economies.

Masire — credited with building Botswana’s modern economy — noted that poverty can only be effectively tackled through the promotion of democracy, good governance, peace and security as well as the development of human and physical resources.

The Mo Ibrahim prize recognises and celebrates excellence in African leadership. It aims to encourage leaders who fully dedicate their tenure of office to tackle the development challenges of their countries, improving the livelihoods and welfare of their people and consolidating the foundation for sustainable development.

Chair of the prize committee, Salim Ahmed Salim said when Pohamba won: “President Pohamba’s focus in forging national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of Namibia’s consolidation of democracy and social and economic development impressed the prize committee. His ability to command the confidence and the trust of his people is exemplary.

“During the decade of his presidential mandate, he demonstrated sound and wise leadership. At the same time, he maintained his humility throughout his presidency.”

Salim praised Pohamba’s commitment to democracy and governance saying during the decade of his presidency, Namibia’s reputation as a well-governed, stable and inclusive democracy with strong media freedom and respect for human rights, was cemented.

The Mo Ibrahim prize laureate is selected by an independent prize committee, consisting of seven eminent individuals. The prize committee assesses democratically elected former executive heads of state or government from African countries who have served their term in office within the limits set by their country’s constitutions and have left office within the last three years.

The prize consists of a US$5 million award paid over 10 years and US$200 000 annually for life thereafter. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation will consider granting a further US$200 000 per year for 10 years towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the laureate.

Pohamba follows former presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007), Festus Mogae, Botswana (2008) and Pedro Pires, Cape Verde (2011) who are also laureates of the Mo Ibrahim prize. Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural honorary laureate in 2007. In 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 the prize committee, after in-depth review, did not select a winner.

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