Home » Governance » Mo Than Meets the Eye [opinion]

THERE is something rather curious in Sudanese-born British businessman Mo Ibrahim’s obsession with President Mugabe. Ibrahim, who we are told got his money from mobile phone telecommunications, in 2007 founded an award regime in his name which purports to celebrate excellence in African leadership.

Winners pocket US$5 million.

The annual award appears to have flattered to deceive having only been given to three leaders — Joachim Chissano (Mozambique, 2007), Festus Mogae (Botswana, 2008) and Pedro Pires of Cape Verde (2011).

After that, Ibrahim has claimed that no African leader has been deserving of the award and he has apparently found a hobby horse in deriding President Mugabe of Zimbabwe in what is not only diversionary, but also opportunistic, ironic, unAfrican and in bad taste.

Last year, at a function honouring Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Ibrahim compared African and American leaders and enthused how Barack Obama and Bill Clinton had been elected at 47 and 46 respectively.

“And here we have somebody in a neighbouring country, at 90 about to start a new term. What’s wrong with us?”

He was apparently referring to the election of President Mugabe three months earlier in a resounding win.

This week, Ibrahim was at it again. Presenting at the “Leadership for the Africa We Want” programme in Rwanda he regretted that Africa was “the only continent where we have a President at 90 years starting a new term. Are you crazy or not?”

And in apparent reference to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was wheelchair-bound as he took the oath of office, Mo Ibrahim added, “We see people in wheelchairs unable to raise hands standing for elections. This is a joke.”

He claimed that “the whole world is laughing at us.”

He added: “We pick people in the 90s to lead us. To lead us where? To the grave?”

That is not all.

In 2012, he took a dig at President Mugabe saying he should be blamed for the economic situation in the country “not his finance minister (Tendai Biti).”

In the same year he again remarked on how “A good fighter is not necessarily a good governor,” referring to liberation leaders.

So obsessed is Ibrahim that in June 2008 he even wrote an editorial which appeared in the Western Press in which he condemned the “regime” and stacked Western criticism against Zimbabwe.

Now, there are fundamental observations that one can make regarding Mo Ibrahim.

First, he is no more than a coconut — that is black outside and white inside — trying to fit in and gain acceptance of the white imperialist world that has so far made its position clear on Zimbabwe.

He is such an opportunist.

One would have expected him to be more seized with events in his homeland of Sudan which is on fire and which warrants more tears for the women and children that are daily killed, raped and maimed and displaced in senseless wars over resources.

Still on the Sudans, it would be interesting to know the ages of the belligerents: the hot-blooded ones like Riek Machar with a particular knack for white women and have caused civil war are not 90-year-olds, surely?

Let’s test Ibrahim’s concept of democracy.

Twice in one year he has derided the people of Zimbabwe, and Africa, for making their choice on President Mugabe. President Mugabe beat Morgan Tsvangirai 61 to 34 percent in the presidential poll while zanu-pf got more than two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Ibrahim calls Zimbabweans crazy.

If people then make their choices and somebody calls them crazy, where is the democracy?

On age, is it being seriously suggested that Zimbabweans would have been compelled to elect a 61-year-old — Morgan Tsvangirai’s age last year — with nothing between the ears?

Zimbabweans must feel insulted by this insinuation, just as Barack Obama must be when his other qualifications are being set aside in the suggestion he was elected merely because of his young age.

It is not very hard to discern a particular evil wish on the part of Ibrahim to see President Mugabe off the scene.

This could be either because this Uncle Tom knows that the event will so please his masters in the West or because he seeks to revel in President Mugabe’s death as revenge for having denied him a chance to have someone “outstanding” to bestow his dubious award.

On the broader question of democracy on the continent, Ibrahim must be seized with what is happening in North Africa where his masters helped foment uprisings to topple governments they had supported in the first place.

There has never been peace and stability in Libya, three years after the cold-blooded murder of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

As Ibrahim was speaking about a 90-year-old beginning a new term in a peaceful country, some general Khalifa Hifter, was seizing power in Libya, marking yet another democratic failure in that country.

Hifter is only 65.

In Nigeria, 56-year-old Goodluck Jonathan is failing to hold the country together, with terrorists attacking innocent people while religious violence flares time and again.

It is hardly a democratic paradise in other African hotspots in West, Central and East Africa.

These places cry way too much for the democracy and peace that is being enjoyed in Zimbabwe, which makes Ibrahim’s obsession with Zimbabwe particularly strange. Ibrahim’s prescriptions for democracy will be very useful there.

Meanwhile, it must be fully interrogated whether Ibrahim indeed has the willingness to part with the money earmarked for his award project, as it is very much possible he may not have it in the first place, hence the diversionary lectures about ages of African leaders.

We have seen other awards, for instance Alfred Nobel’s, religiously paying out even to undeserving recipients like Obama!

Source : The Herald