Mosisili for Ibrahim Prize

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Prime Minister and Democratic Congress (DC) leader Pakalitha MosisiliEven though it’s almost 18 months after the event, we still feel compelled to commend Pakalitha Mosisili’s steadfast statesmanship in ensuring a smooth hand-over of power as fully acknowledged by his successor Thomas Thabane.

In his first comprehensive interview , published in this newspaper last week to review the work of the coalition government, Thabane narrated in greater detail how Mosisili had facilitated a smooth hand-over of power after his newly formed Democratic Congress (DC) lost the crunch May 2012 general elections.

“I want to pay tribute to my predecessor and former boss Mosisili who phoned me to say ‘you are expected at the stadium tomorrow’ and when I got there, he informed me that he was going to witness my swearing in as Prime Minister,” said Thabane.

Thabane said the story of how Mosisili had rallied his party to agree to hand over power, after his DC had failed to ramp up the numbers to lead a coalition, has never been fully told in the media.

Thabane’s first-hand narration of the dignified manner in which Mosisili had conceded defeat mirrors the acts of a principled leader unwilling to cling to power at all costs and risk a repeat of the bloodshed this country had experienced in the past.

For that we say thank you again Mosisili.

In light of the perennial political tragedy on this blighted continent in which clinging to power is an accepted norm, Mosisili will proudly go down in history as one of a few exceptions.

While the jury remains out on many aspects of his governance record, Mosisili deserves all the accolades for submitting to the people’s will and handing over power without any farce.

We commended him for that last year.

In light of more information from Thabane last week, we repeat our tribute to him.

Many countries to our North on the continent have been turned into wastelands because leaders have overstayed their welcome in office.

As Thabane puts it: “Whatever happens in future, (former) Prime Minister Mosisili will forever remain in my mind as the African leader who handed over power peacefully and voluntarily after losing an election”.

The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership again had no takers for the fourth time in seven years this year due to a lack of suitable candidates.

The prize is awarded to a candidate who has left office in the previous three years of each sitting to consider awarding. Despite a proliferation of such candidates, many had dismal records in other areas whilst in office.

Thabo Mbeki for instance was booted out by his party after he had initially tried to overstay his welcome and block Jacob Zuma’s ascendancy.

Zambia’s Rupiah Banda is now in court over corruption charges, to mention a few examples.

The story of the political dinosaurs who still cling to power at the massive expense of their countries still defines Africa’s political narrative.

Talk of the Robert Mugabes and the Jose Eduardo Dos Santoses of this part of the world. The story of stolen elections to cling to power has remained a byword for Africa.

Against that background, leaders like Mosisili, who set a good example by quitting when they lost elections, are a source of hope for this continent. Thabane’s own vow not to serve beyond two terms, his age notwithstanding, is even more encouraging.

We shall hold him by his promise to ensure that this provision is entrenched in the constitution before he leaves office.

The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Leadership involves a lot of other criteria such as a leader’s record in improving the lot of his people while in office.

Mosisili could certainly have done more in that regard.

In spite of whatever finer guidelines the panel that chooses winners follows, we feel Mosisili is a good candidate for consideration.

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