Rant and Rave alert.
African dictators enjoy some of the highest expected tenures in the world. They are also some of the worst performing leaders. Theodore Obiang of Equatorial Guinea has been in power since the late 1970s. Abundant oil and a low population makes his country be classified as a high income country by the World Bank (over $34,000 per capita income); despite the fact that over 70% of his people live below the poverty line, even as his son plans to buy the 2nd most expensive boat in the world. A huge chunk of his country’s oil money goes directly to his bank account.
This has been the story of African leadership in the last 50 years. Half a century after independence Africans find themselves in a position in which former colonial powers can still roll in and take over with minimal resistance. At the moment Cote d’Ivoire, the jewel of post-independence West Africa, is on its knees. Former colonial power, France, controls the main international airport. It is as if 1960 never happened.
It is like 1960 never happened because tiny Portugal can still roll in and take over Equatorial Guinea.
At the risk of sounding like a dependence theorist, the reality is that external domination of the African Continent only ended on paper. Poor leadership has continued to confine the entire region in the sick ward of the world. The numbers tell it all. The region’s maternal and child mortality figures are mind-boggling. In many places the standards of living belong in centuries long past.
What is on the mind of Laurent Gbagbo as he continues to destroy the lives of millions of Ivorians? What is Idriss Deby’s plan for Chad, and its oil money that he continues to steal with alacrity? Why does Mugabe think that he is God’s gift to Zimbabwe? And why does Zuma of South Africa continue to be embroiled in useless and shameful sideshows involving his sexual life instead of assuming the important task of leading this rudderless continent out of mediocrity?