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Home » Columns » Ibrahim Leadership Prize-Khama vs Johnson Sirleaf

Ibrahim Leadership Prize-Khama vs Johnson Sirleaf

Publishing Date : 05 February, 2018

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH



With the retirement of former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the impending retirement of President Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama of Botswana, some have opined that the forthcoming Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will be tightly contested by the two leaders.

Before considering who stands a better chance to win between Khama and Johnson Sirleaf, it is apposite that a brief explanation of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership be given. According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the Ibrahim Prize celebrates excellence in African leadership. It is awarded to a former Executive Head of State or Government by an independent Prize Committee composed of eminent figures, including two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.


The prize recognizes and celebrates African executive leaders who, under challenging circumstances, have developed their countries and strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, paving the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity.

It highlights exceptional role models for the continent and ensures that the African continent continues to benefit from the experience and wisdom of exceptional leaders once they have left national office, by enabling them to continue in other public roles on the continent.


The prize, funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation was founded by Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese billionaire businessman and philanthropist, who founded the telecommunications company Celtel International in 1998.
For one to be eligible for the award one has to be a former democratically elected African executive head of state or government; have left office in the last three years; have served his/her constitutionally mandated term and should have demonstrated exceptional leadership.


The prize’s winner gets an award of $5million USD over ten years and $200,000 USD per year for life thereafter. The prize’s laureates are President Joaquim Chisano of Mozambique; President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela of South Africa; President Festus Gontebanye Mogae of Botswana; President Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires of Cabo Verde and President Hifikepunye Pohamba for 2007, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2014 respectively.


Regrettably, in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2015 the Prize Committee, after in-depth review, did not select a winner, meaning that in those years Africa had a dearth of exceptionally good political leadership. Now back to who stands a better chance to win between Khama and Johnson Sirleaf. The question is: who, among the two, under challenging circumstances, developed their countries and strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, paving the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity?


First, the issue of challenging circumstances. There is no doubt that Johnson Sirleaf faced more challenging circumstances considering that she inherited a war ravaged country following military rule after Samuel Doe seized power in April 1980 in a coup d'état and executed former leader, William Tolbert.


The country was further ravaged by civil war during the tenure of President Charles Taylor who led the country from 1997 to 2005. As a woman, and the first female president in her country, Johnson Sirleaf no doubt faced challenges owing to the patriarchal nature of the Liberian society.


On the contrary, Khama inherited a country with unparalleled peace and stability. Further, he is not only a male who benefited from the patriarchal nature of the Botswana society, but also benefited from the fact that his father, the late Sir Seretse Khama, was the founding president of his country. Not only that. As a chief of the BaNgwato, a tribe holding a pristine position of dominance over other tribes, his was always going to be leadership on a golden platter.


Second, the issue of developing their countries and strengthening democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, paving the way for sustainable and equitable prosperity. We shall now assess Khama and Johnson Sirleaf’s tenures in turn. In making this assessment we rely on the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), with data for the year 2016. This Index scored African countries in Rule of Law; Accountability; Personal Safety; National Security; Participation; Rights; Gender; Public Management; Business Environment; Infrastructure; Rural Sector; Welfare; Education and Health.


First, Khama, who assumed the presidency on 1st April 2008 and will retire on 31st March 2018. With respect to the Rule of Law Botswana scored 92.8%, scooping position 2, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing deterioration of -0.24. As regards Accountability, Botswana scored 66.3%, scooping position 3, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing deterioration of -0.86.


Regarding Personal Safety Botswana scored 67.2%, scooping position 2, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing improvement of +0.56.  With respect to National Security Botswana scored 100 %, scooping position 1, experiencing no change with respect to the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016. On Participation Botswana scored 83.3%, scooping position 4, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing improvement of +0.01.


With respect to Rights Botswana scored 52.1%, taking position 20, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing deterioration of -0.57. Regarding Gender Botswana scored 65.2%, taking position 18, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing deterioration of -0.56. On Public Management Botswana scored 60.3%, taking position 7, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing deterioration of -1.27.


As regards Business Environment Botswana scored 68.7%, taking position 4, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing deterioration of -0.08. With respect to Infrastructure Botswana scored 64.3%, taking position 5, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing deterioration of -0.08. On Rural Sector Botswana scored 65%, taking position 7, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had warning signs of -0.17.


As regards Welfare Botswana scored 76.8%, taking position 3, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +0.83. With respect to Education Botswana scored 72.5%, taking position 3, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had warning signs of +0.19. On Health Botswana scored 84.6%, taking position 6, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had warning signs of +0.42.


Second, Johnson Sirleaf, who assumed the presidency on 16th January 2006 and retired on 22nd January 2018. With respect to the Rule of Law Liberia scored 62.1%, getting position 15, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +1.84. As regards Accountability, Liberia scored 43.1%, attaining position 19, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +1.52.


Regarding Personal Safety Liberia scored 51.4%, attaining position 24, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing deterioration of -0.42. With respect to National Security Liberia scored 88.9%, getting position 18, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +2.40. On Participation Liberia scored 67.5%, attaining position 13, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had slowing improvement of +0.32.


With respect to Rights Liberia scored 46.8%, taking position 27, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing improvement of +0.21. Regarding Gender Liberia scored 58.8%, taking position 25, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had warning signs of +0.07. On Public Management Liberia scored 39.9%, taking position 38, but considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing improvement of +0.13.


As regards Business Environment Liberia scored 41.7%, taking position 31, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had an increasing improvement of +0.40. With respect to Infrastructure Liberia scored 33.7%, taking position 40, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +0.46.  On Rural Sector Botswana scored 43.2%, taking position 41, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +2.23.


As regards Welfare Liberia scored 39.1%, taking position 43, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had warning signs of +0.72. With respect to Education Liberia scored 43.6%, taking position 33, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had warning signs of +0.01. On Health Liberia scored 58.2%, taking position 47, and considering the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +0.98.


Overall, Botswana scored 72.7%, ranking 3rd, but on the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she suffered an increasing deterioration of -0.09. On the other hand, overall, Liberia scored 51.4%, ranking 28th, and on the 10 year average of 2007 to 2016 she had a slowing improvement of +0.18.


Botswana has increasing deterioration in 50% of the indicators, and warning signs and slowing deterioration in 25% of the indicators. Liberia on the other hand has slowing improvement in 50% of the indicators, 2 warning signs, 3 increasing improvements and 1 increasing deterioration.


In my view, considering the fact that under Khama’s leadership Botswana has suffered increasing deterioration while under Johnson Sirleaf’s leadership Liberia, despite the challenges it is facing, experienced improvement, albeit slow, Johnson Sirleaf is better placed to win the prize than Khama. 

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