Good governance is gaining ground in Africa. It’s happening at snail speed, but it’s happening nevertheless. African leaders are becoming increasingly democratic and are recording significant progress in liberalizing the political environment. They are more accountable to their citizens, and showing more respect for human rights and civil liberties.
But the bad eggs still linger – and there are quite a number of them. Late last year, I put a call through to my African followers on Twitter to nominate the worst African leaders of our times. I received over 800 responses. Based on those responses, these are the five worst African leaders of today.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is Africa’s longest serving ruler. He has ruled Equatorial Guinea, a tiny, oil-rich West African country, since August 1979 when he overthrew his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in a bloody coup d’état. Equatorial Guinea is one of the continent’s largest producers of oil and has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into prosperity for its people. The country ranks very poorly in the United Nations human development index; the vast majority of Equatorial Guineans hardly have access to clean drinking water. The country also has one of the world’s highest under-5 mortality rates: about 20% of its children die before the age of five. Many of the remaining 80% of the children don’t have access to quality educational and healthcare facilities. Meanwhile, the first son of the president, Teodorin Obiang (who is in line to succeed his father), spends millions of dollars of state funds financing his lavish lifestyle which includes luxurious property in Malibu, a Gulfstream jet, Michael Jackson memorabilia and a car collection that could easily make billionaires go green with envy.