Most African presidents have made democracy seem more like a theoretical concept than actual reality. Autocracy and tyranny appear to be the modes of rule that they are more familiar with. History is replete with African presidents that are generally identified to be the worst leaders in the world, both during and after colonisation. However, in recent years, effective governance has begun to gain traction throughout Africa, though it is at a crawling rate.
African leaders are becoming more democratic and accountable to their people, while also respecting human rights and civil liberties. In a similar spirit, oppressive governments are crumbling and being replaced by better ones. However, the truth is that the bad apples still exist, and there are many of them.
Here are 5 worst African presidents in history
Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea
Africa’s longest-serving ruler is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Since toppling his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema in a deadly coup in 1979, he has been in control in the oil-rich West African country for four decades. The previous leader was put on trial and sentenced to death.
Equatorial Guinea is one of the continent’s top oil producers and has one of the greatest per capita incomes in the world, but the country’s 1.3 million inhabitants have yet to benefit. In the United Nations’ human development index, the country ranks very low.
He named his son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue as his deputy in 2012. The president’s son is known for his extravagant tastes, reputedly spending millions in state monies to bankroll a lavish lifestyle that included luxury houses in the United States, Europe, and South Africa, a Gulfstream jet, Michael Jackson memorabilia, and a billion-dollar vehicle collection.
In November 2014, the US Justice Department ordered him to forfeit his US-based property and belongings while prosecutors in Switzerland seized over 20 high-end vehicles from him in 2016, including Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, and Rolls Royce, which were auctioned off for almost $27 million.
In 2018, Brazilian authorities seized more than $16 million in cash and designer watches, which was found in the luggage of a delegation accompanying Obiang Mangue.
In February 2020, a Paris court maintained his three-year suspended sentence and fined him US$32.9 million for using public funds to purchase a six-story Paris house and a fancy automobile. He has always denied that his fortune was amassed through a variety of supposed schemes in his poor homeland.
Eduardo Dos Santos, Ex- president of Angola
Eduardo Dos Santos, like Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, has been in power since 1979 and has transformed Angola into his personal property. Angola is Sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest oil producer and the world’s fourth-largest rough diamond producer.
In other words, in terms of natural resources, Angola is one of Africa’s richest countries today. However, the sad reality is that over 70% of Angola’s population lives in poverty, with countless individuals suffering in extreme poverty and starvation as a result of Eduardo Dos Santos’s cruel conduct.
Despite poverty, starvation, bad education, and terrible healthcare, Isabel Dos Santos, Eduardo Dos Santos’ first daughter, became Africa’s richest lady, with a net worth of over $3.5 billion.
King Mswati III, Ruler of Swaziland
Mswati, Sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute king, has been chastised for living a luxury lifestyle while his people starve. Over 70% of the country’s citizens survive on less than $1 per day, and 40% of the population is unemployed. Despite the Swazi people’s suffering, King Mswati has shown no compassion or interest. He lives opulently, squandering his kingdom’s wealth on German automobiles, first-class leisure travel across the world, and women. Mswati is a prolific polygamous man. He is preoccupied with marriages and sexual pleasures while his country suffers.
However, his egregious mismanagement of his country’s finances is now wreaking havoc on the economy. Swaziland is in the midst of a severe financial crisis. Pensions have been halted as the kingdom’s economy collapses.
Omar Al-Bashir, Ex-president of North Sudan
Al-Bashir ascended to power by a bloodless military coup against Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, a democratically elected leader by the Sudanese population in 1989. Al-Bashir disbanded all political groupings in his country shortly after assuming power, dismissed the country’s parliament, and shut down all privately held media outlets.
Civil wars erupted during his reign, resulting in the deaths of 300,000 to one million people and the relocation of nearly 3 million of his subjects. His record on human rights is one of a kind. He has committed rape, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, as well as looting the country’s oil money (stowing $9 billion in secret bank accounts in the United Kingdom).
Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda
Before capturing power in the 1980s, Yoweri Museveni was a member of the resistance that toppled Ugandan dictators Idi Amin (1971–79) and Milton Obote (1980–85). Museveni has been the president of Uganda since 1986. The country has not grown steadily during his leadership. The freedoms of association, assembly, and expression have all been violated to a large extent. In order to run again in 2021, Museveni brutally suppressed dissent by deleting “presidential age” from the Ugandan constitution.
Museveni’s security forces have imprisoned and persecuted opposition parties and journalists for over 33 years. In 2021, ahead of Uganda’s presidential elections, his government employed deception to deny people access to social media and the right to assemble in public. In the Rwenzori region of western Uganda, there have been violent ethnic confrontations and retaliation under Museveni’s administration.
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