Pohamba humbled by receiving the world’s most valuable individual award – the Mo Ibrahim prize – for African leadership

President Hifikepunye Pohamba said he is humbled by the Mo Ibrahim prize for African leadership, a prestigious award he received on Monday.

“I have accepted the award on behalf of the Namibian people, as it is their commitment to peace and stability that has made the award of this prize to me possible,” Pohamba said in statement issued by the State House on Tuesday.

The outgoing Namibian president has won the world’s most valuable individual award for a politician and head of state, the Mo Ibrahim prize for African leadership that has not been awarded since 2011, apparently not because of financial constraints but because no other African leaders were deemed worthy.

Pohamba now follows in the footprints of former Mo Ibrahim prize winners: Cabo Verde’s former president Pedro 2011; Festus Mogae of Botswana 2008 and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique 2007.

The award carries a cash prize of US$5m (approximately N.dollars 55 million), and is given each year to an elected leader who governed well, addressed the development challenges of a nation and raised living standards of the people, consolidated the foundations for sustainable development and then left office at the end of his/her tenure.

Pohamba, who has served two terms as President or ten years, is due to leave office on 21 March this year. He is expected to be succeeded by Namibia’s third democratically elected president-elect Hage Geingob who will be sworn in when the nation celebrates 25 years of independence, freedom, peace, security, democracy and respect for human rights.

“I am humbled by this gesture. This prize will enable me to further pursue the objectives of the Hifikepunye Pohamba Foundation, which focuses on supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue tertiary education with a focus on agriculture and food production,” he said.

Pohamba, 79, was president since March 2005 and has also been Swapo-party president since November 2007. He was also the party’s vice-president from 2002 to 2007 and secretary general from 1997 to 2002.

Prior to his presidency, Pohamba served in various ministerial positions: Minister of Home Affairs from 1990 to 1995, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources from 1995 to 1997, Minister without Portfolio from 1997 to 2000, and Minister of Lands and Resettlement from 2001 to 2005.