11 November, 2007

Joaquim Chissano Rightly Wins

About one and a half years ago, I wrote on this site about my great admiration and liking for Mozambique and how much had been achieved since it won independence: '......compared to what it was just a few years ago, Mozambique has very much improved. Best of all: it has peace now. Families can live in peace and children can go to school; people can carry on with normal life.'

Unlike many, if not most, African countries, Mozambique has done comparatively very well. In spite of its bloody past - a long and bloody guerrilla war for independence, followed by another bloody and costly civil war - Mozambique has managed to over come all this. Mozambican leaders, most of all - Joaquim Chissano, its former President, are mainly responsible for: Mozambique's peace, a stable democracy and the economic progress that the country has now.

Chissano has shown what real leadership is, both - when he was Mozambique's head of state and then not choosing to run (unlike most African leaders) for president for a third term in the elections of 2004, although the constitution would have allowed him to do so; and since stepping down as president, he has become an elder statesman and is called upon by international bodies, such as the United Nations, to be an envoy or negotiator. He currently chairs the Joaquim Chissano Foundation and the Forum of Former African Heads of State and Government.

It's with all these in mind, that I was most pleased and elated at he, Joaquim Chissano, being chosen as the winner of the inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The largest individual award in the world.

Announcing the Laureate in front of an audience of London’s African diplomatic community, civil society representatives and the media, Kofi Annan, the Chair of the Prize Committee, said that “President Chissano’s achievements in bringing peace, reconciliation, stable democracy and economic progress to his country greatly impressed the committee. So, too, did his decision to step down without seeking the third term the constitution allowed.”

Praising his Government’s economic progress, poverty reduction programmes, infrastructure development and work to tackle HIV/AIDS, Kofi Annan stated that “it is his role in leading Mozambique from conflict to peace and democracy that President Chissano has made his most outstanding contribution.” He also commended President Chissano for his “major contribution outside his country’s borders” which included providing “a powerful voice for Africa on the international stage”.

Congratulations to Chissano and to Mozambique! Mozambique, a country that I will always greatly admire and like. A country, that had circumstances allowed me and had I the choice, I would have greatly loved and be proud to live in! Not only because of its immense beauty and attractive scenery, and very friendly people - but, due too, to the visionary and very positive leadership it has had during its war for independence and since winning its freedom.

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