Outgoing Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba has won the 2014 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
The award, known to be the most valuable individual prize globally, comes with a $5million (Sh457million) cash prize paid over a period of 10 years. The winner is thereafter given $200,000 (Sh18.2million) every year, for life.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation says it will also consider granting a further $200,000 per year for a period of 10 years “towards public interest activities and good causes espoused by the Ibrahim Laureates.”
“This award from an African foundation is a celebration of achievement in African leadership on the African continent. The prize committee has decided to award the 2014 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership to President Pohamba of Namibia,” the chair of the prize committee Salim Ahmed Salim said during a ceremony held in Nairobi, Kenya.
The prize committee of the Ibrahim Foundation assesses democratically elected former executive Heads of State of government from African countries who have served their term in office within the limits set by their country’s constitution and have left office within the last three years.
First elected in 2004, President Pohamba served for two terms and is due to be succeeded by President-elect, Hage Geingob on March 21, 2015.
Pohamba has been recognised for his focus in forging national cohesion and reconciliation at a key stage of Namibia’s consolidation of democracy and social and economic development.
His deep commitment to the rule of law and respect for the constitution, in particular on the issue of term limit also impressed the prize committee.
The committee which consists of seven members also recognised Pohamba as a leader who laid emphasis on issues of gender equality which led to notable achievement of having a 48 percent representation of women in Parliament.
“During the decade of Hifikepunye Pohamba’s presidency, Namibia’s reputation has been cemented as well. Governed, stable and inclusive democracy with strong media freedom and respect for human rights,” Salim said.
Born in Northern Namibia, Pohamba, 79, is also known for his country’s independence through the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO). SWAPO has dominated politics by winning majorities in elections in Namibia.
President Pohamba follows Presidents Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique (2007), Festus Mogae of Botswana (2008) and Pedro Pires of Cabo Verde (2011) as Ibrahim Laureates. The late South African President Nelson Mandela was made the inaugural Honorary Laureate in 2007.
The prize committee may choose not to award the prize, as was the case in 2009, 2012 and 2013.