HARARE – The chance to receive a lump sum of $5 million and a further $200 000 a-year for the rest of your life sounds too good to be true.
It’s more money than most of us will ever see in a lifetime and you would think that eligible candidates would jump at such a prospective golden handshake.
In exchange for being a democratically-elected leader of an African country who demonstrated exceptional leadership and left office in the last three years, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation offers this annual incentive to our continent’s leaders.
What a shame that for the fourth time in five years, 52 African countries between them did not managed to produce a candidate suitable of winning the prize.
Zimbabwe came 47th out of 52 countries, sharing the bottom shelf with Equatorial Guinea, the DR Congo, Eritrea, Chad, Somalia and the Central African Republic.
Zimbabwe, once the acclaimed bread basket of Africa, the country which people from all over the continent flocked to, is now languishing at the very bottom of the pile.
Every year the Mo Ibrahim Foundation looks at four main categories for each of 52 eligible African countries.
These categories are safety and the rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic development and human development.
The foundation is looking for the leader who governed well, who raised living standards and who then left office.
Our scores in the category of safety and the rule of law were particularly dismal.
Zimbabwe came 49th place out of 52 on the continent.
We were in the bottom five on the continent in regards to the rule of law, personal safety, accountability and national security.
Ironically, three of Zimbabwe’s nearest neighbours were in the top six of the foundation’s index for 2013, these being South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
Countless millions of Zimbabweans have fled to these same countries in the last 13 years, looking for a better life and an escape from the country with the third worst safety and rule of law record on the continent. Sadly, our terrible scores in the safety and rule of law category have not come as a surprise.
After 13 years of a highly-politicised and partisan police force, the rule of law has been seriously selective.
There can be few people in the country who have not heard the tired excuses of: “we have no transport”, or “we have not received instruction from our supervisors”, as reasons police have given for not attending to crimes.
There can’t be a single motorist who hasn’t been pulled over at one of the multitude of road blocks and intimidated into parting with their money in order to proceed with their journey.
These lesser annoyances are apparently the tip of the iceberg within our police force.
Now we read of the expropriation of private property, illegal seizure of assets, communications with “unfriendly” nations, mysterious truckloads of cement; unethical tenders leading to the supply of substandard uniforms and more.
With the current expose by the Daily News of corruption in the ZRP and what they describe as a “Police Mafia”, it is no wonder our safety and rule of law assessment is the third worst on the continent.
It is refreshing to know that commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri has at last embarked on a clean-up of the police force but we question why it has gotten so bad and taken so long to come to light.
There’s nothing quite as effective as scaring investors and tourists away as a lack of safety and rule of law.