Batwana are reportedly brimming with pride after former President Festus Mogae
won the $5-million Mo Ibrahim Prize for African leadership Monday for steering
Botswana along a stable, prosperous path and leading the fight against AIDS.
Mogae is regarded internationally as an exemplary African leader who ensured
that the tenet of democracy flourished under his rule, making Botswana a rare
political and economic success story on the continent.
Mogae handed over power
peacefully earlier this year in what political observers described as a smooth
transition after nearly a decade in power. The prize is awarded to a
democratically elected former leader of a sub-Saharan African country who
served out his constitutional term and left office within the past three years.
Ntabele is the executive secretary of Mmegi Publishing Trust, an independent
Botswana newspaper. From the capital, Gabarone, he tells reporter Peter Clottey
that the country is proud the international community has put the country on a
"Generally the mood is just
of pride that there has been recognition of the work that has been done by our
former president. And the issue of the monetary award that goes along with the
recognition. People believe that it would also help to uplift the lives of
Batwana (plural for Botswana citizens). Given that, we believe the majority of
the money he won would be used as part of his foundation in helping, especially
in HIV/AIDS where he has been working quite hard and in the other part
education he is interested in," Ntabele noted.
He said most people
expressed joy when the news of the award was announced.
"They were quite happy. In
fact before he left office, he moved around the country to bid the nation
farewell. And given the type of reception that he received was an indication of
the pleasure that the nation had in his leadership. He was actually given a lot
of presents, and very big ones for that matter. I believe the whole nation was
quite happy with the way he ruled this country because he didn't deviate
generally from the policies of the first and second presidents of Botswana," he
Ntabele said the current
government has welcomed news of the former presidents award.
"The government is reacting
with excitement since the news came along because the news was rightly there in
the government radio and even on television. They made it the top of the
newscasts, which is big here. It only means that the government is really
excited about the former president's award," Ntabele pointed out.
first winner of the prize last year was Mozambique's former President Joaquim
Chissano, who stepped aside after leading his country to peace and democracy
after years of civil war.
Ibrahim, is a Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur, who established
the prize as a way to encourage good governance in Africa, to encourage
adherence to democratic principles across the continent.
Meanwhile, Survival International is criticizing the Mo Ibrahim Foundation for awarding its achievement in African Leadership' prize to Festus Mogae, who as president of Botswana oversaw what the organization claims was the eviction of Kalahari Bushmen from their rightfully owned land.