Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Mo Ibrahim foundation should stop taking us for ride.

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) report was released this week, receiving different reactions from different interests.
I would normally not bother with an Index which gives the least priority to Human Development Index (HDI) in its ranking criteria, were it not for the fact that I found that Kenya’s ranking, especially in the areas of personal security and rule of law were completely off when compared to some of the countries ranked higher or closer to Kenya.
I thus had a look at the foundation’s website , and found that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to these rankings. Although the IIAG claims to be the “most comprehensive collection of quantitative data on governance in Africa,” they also should openly declare their ideological leanings rather than leaving it to subtly appear in their rankings.
In fact, I have in the past listened to Mo Ibrahim praising former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano for his role in the liberalization of the Mozambican economy and how this was beneficial to business in that country.

Western Sahara Republic, Sudan and South Sudan not ranked
This year’s report ranked Mauritius number 1/52 with an index of 82.9 points, while it ranked Somalia last (52/52) with 8 points.
No reason was given as to why three African countries, that is Western Sahara, Sudan and South Sudan were not ranked. This raises eyebrows on the legitimacy and independence of these rankings given the politics behind Western Sahara Republic vis-a-vis Morocco, and possible relations between Mo Ibrahim and his country of origin, Sudan(s).
Western Sahara Republic, which is a founder member of the African Union, has since its independence in the 70’s had a lot of tensions with neighboring Kingdom of Morocco, which continues to occupy and colonize parts of Western Sahara to this date. Either, the Mo Ibrahim foundation decided to rank Western Sahara under Morocco, or decided not to rank Western Sahara due to influences from Morocco.
 By the Mo Ibrahim foundation not recognizing Western Sahara in their report, they have not only shown their open bias for the Colonial Kingdom of Morocco against the Saharawi people, but have also shown where the foundation stands when it comes to (in)justice, independence of nations and equality of states. To any self respecting African, this single omission is reason enough to trash the whole report since it is impossible to have respect for anything that is inspired by injustice.
This is further worsened by the fact that overally, Morocco is ranked number 14, while Algeria, which is more advanced in all the criteria used, is ranked at number 25.
The fact that Salim Ahmed Salim, a former long serving Secretary General the O.A.U and a distinguished African is a member of the foundation’s board and chairs its prize committee and is therefore party to this violation of Western Sahara’s independence is extremely disappointing.
When it comes to Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, we are again left to speculate. Given the fact that Mo Ibrahim is a Sudanese born British citizen, it could be that he personally influenced his foundation not to rank the two Sudans for his own personal reasons. The reasons could be that he was so angered by the division of the two Sudans three years ago, that he felt that South Sudan should never be recognized in his institutions; But since this would raise questions, he made a compromise and decided that both the Sudans would not be ranked in the IIAG. This speculation is strengthened by the fact that Sudan has in the past been included in the IIAG reports.
If this is the case, then it is just too unfortunate. Just for the records, I also did not agree with the separation of the two countries, and I hope that they will unite in the future, but bringing personal feelings to a governance index that claims to be “a tool with which to govern, highlighting continental, regional, national and thematic governance results” shows how pedestrian this IIAG is.
Of course, they cannot claim that they had difficulty in accessing information in these three countries since if that was the case, then Somalia would not have been ranked at all. It would also have been more difficult for The Democratic Republic Congo(DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR) to find their way into the report if these three countries could not.

A look into the general and specific categories under which the data is classified shows that the IIAG serves as a propaganda and lies tool for Western interests, and the interests of certain specific African countries.

A few examples of the propaganda, biases and lies
Under the “Safety and rule of law” category, we have Mali and Libya being ranked higher than Zimbabwe. In fact, Zimbabwe, with a score of 29.7 ranks just five points above the CAR and the DRC which have scores of 24.9 and 24.5 respectively! How is this even possible?
Under Personal safety (a sub-category of Safety and rule of law), Libya ranks number 43/52 with 29.7, while Zimbabwe is number 48/52 with an index of 18.9! This keeping in mind the developments in Libya since the violent invasion of Libya by the imperialist countries just two years ago!
The lowest score in terms of personal safety is Somalia, which has a score of 0.0. We know that Somalia is not a very safe place to live in, but giving it a score of 0.0 just shows laziness on the side of the person who was doing the ranking.
In the sub-category of Rule of Law, Eritrea scores 3.3 and is number 51/52, while Rwanda scores 48.7 and is number 25/52, just two points below Kenya which has a score of 51.5! This is in a country(Rwanda) where a there are thousands of political prisoners, a country where all opposition Parties that oppose the ruling Party are operating from exile, and where Victoire Ingabire was imprisoned by a Rwandese court in fabricated charges, but for the real reason of posing a winning threat against Paul Kagame’s leadership in the last presidential elections.

In the category of “Participation and Human Rights” Uganda is ranked at 18/52 with 56 points, Kenya is ranked at 23/52 with 50.7 and Rwanda is ranked at 29/52 with 44.6 points. So Uganda, a country where President Museveni violently clamped down Kizza Besigye and anyone who wanted to walk-to-work in opposition to rising fuel prices in Uganda, ranks higher than Kenya? A country where torture is openly used to extract information from suspects and a country where the media is not at all free ranks higher than Kenya in the category of Participation and Human Rights?
Zimbabwe here is ranked at position 45, below Ivory Coast, which is ranked 43 and below Cameroon and Morocco which are ranked position 39 and 40 respectively!
On the sub-category of Rights, Morocco surprisingly ranks at number 24, while Algeria ranks at number 34!
In the sub-category of gender, it is evident that whoever was mandated to do the ranking concentrated on representation in Parliament and chose to ignore all the other indicators. Clear propaganda.

These biases and lies continue in almost all the other categories, where even in the obvious categories like Education, Zimbabwe is ranked a distant 24.
It is clear that Countries like Algeria, Ethiopia and Angola ranked at number 25, 33 and 39 were unfairly ranked lower than they deserve.
These incongruities only confirm that the Mo Ibrahim foundation serves right wing, west-leaning interests in Africa, while veiling their rankings as scientific and impartial under the cover of untrue figures. The lies also confirm that the IIAG should not be used  as “a framework for citizens, governments, institutions and business to assess the delivery of public goods and services, and policy outcomes, across Africa” as they would want it to be used.

Benedict Wachira
16th October 2013


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