Anyone who has watched Robert Mugabe this year, as the 84-year-old dictator of almost three decades railed against colonial phantoms while stealing an election, ruining the economy and starving his people, might be tempted to take Zimbabwe as the story of Africa. But if Mugabe is the most famous living example of an African tyrant, evidence of a very different Africa has never been far away. Botswana, which shares a border with Zimbabwe, has for decades been mainland Africa's brightest star, a country that has gone from dustbowl poverty to middle income status in a generation, where elections are peaceful, politicians retire voluntarily, civil society is vibrant and where natural resources (in Bostwana's case, diamonds) are not a curse or a spur to corruption and violent theft, but a blessing shared by all.
On Monday, that achievement was recognized when the Mo Ibrahim Foundation awarded its annual good governance prize to Festus Mogae, who retired this year after two five-year terms as president. The prize achieved instant recognition when it was inaugurated last year because of its hefty cash incentive: $5 million over 10 years, $200,000 a year after that and an additional $200,000 a year for good causes espoused by the winner.
This year the award panel, which includes former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, former Irish President Mary Robinson, and Nobel peace laureates Mohamed ElBaradei and Martti Ahtisaari, praised Mogae's "outstanding leadership." Mogae had "ensured Botswana's continued stability and prosperity in the face of an HIV/AIDS pandemic which threatened the future of his country and people" but which is now declining thanks to "one of Africa's most progressive and comprehensive programs for dealing with the disease." read on>>>> TIME
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