African Heads of States, a Prize for Successful Leadership. Is it Enough?

Africa is among the most corrupt and poorest continents. Many regimes live off the poverty and ordeal of the people they subject to their power rather than being at their service. Such regimes consider themselves the sole owners of the country and they should have a high pay for the realisations of any project for the rest of the inhabitants. They indirectly become businessmen negotiating how much they can get from a project and not how beneficial it can be for their countries. The most famous dictator in Africa was the late president Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, known today as DR Congo. During his rule he amassed vast fortune while the country remained in economic hardship despite its mineral and natural riches.

Ironically, many heads of states in Africa have a small salary – compared to that of western heads of states – not exceeding $US20,000. Yet they enjoy high luxury along with their friends and families. To make a comparison, when former French President François Mitterrand died he left no fortune behind him. He simply died in his apartment although he ruled France for 14 years.

Concerning a $5M prize for Africa’s most effective head of state that is being launched by one of the continent’s top businessmen and UK-based mobile phone entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim sounds laudable but alone it is unlikely to make Africa a better place.

Africa’s problems aren’t just about a particular head of state but about the regime he represents. A president can be assured about his future through such a prize, but those working around him also should have clean hands. As corruption is entrenched in many African countries, it remains hard to see the effect of a prize if some heads of states find out of calculation they could get more than a $5m prize by holding to power and having directly their share from their countries wealth through embezzlement and appropriation.

One condition I suggest for this prize is that candidates heads of states should first reveal their personal wealth inside and outside their countries before assessing their political achievements.

What can make heads of states work harder is when there’s full democracy in their countries and they have a limited term to govern, preferring at the end of their term(s) the popular high esteem they can have to the figures they can receive from their bank account.

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