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Payday for African tyrants

Tuesday September 17 2019

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The death of former Zimbabwean strongman Robert Mugabe in Singapore brought to the fore the lingering question of Africa’s leadership.

Reports from across the continent are unedifying. Many are facing trial or suffering in foreign capitals.

Former Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir is in the dock over corruption and human rights abuses during his protracted, but controversial, reign from 1989 to April 2019.

The forlorn image he now cuts behind the prison grills is hardly that of a man whose word was once law. But he has to pay for the path he chose.

Once the darling of the masses, former South African president Jacob Zuma faces jail for orchestrating the plunder of the Rainbow Nation in cahoots with his cronies before he was forced out last year.



Hosni Mubarak, the man who for three decades straddled Egypt like a colossus, but is now ill, literally turned prison into his home following his ignominious exit from power in 2011.

In the Maghreb former long-serving dictator Abdelaziz Bouteflika, now bearing the brunt of sickness, is hard-pressed to account for the corruption and rights abuses during his two-decade rule.

The Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh and Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore, both exiled, are wanted for corruption and rights abuses.

The shameful trend was authored by, among others, Fredrick Chiluba of Zambia, Bakili Muluzi (Malawi) and Joseph Desire Kabila of DR Congo, all products of the “second liberation” wave, and all now dead.


Abuse of power by leaders is not unique to Africa, but there’s no doubt that it’s most rampant here.

African Heads of State ought to appreciate that leadership is a call to service and not a chance to plunder and stifle democracy.

Africa’s own Nelson Mandela set the bar high and remains a global icon for his exemplary five-year rule even after 27 years in jail for the independence struggle.