22 Most Controversial Leaders In Africa

In no particular order, we have compiled a list of the Most Ruthless and Controversial Leaders In Africa. Brace up, it just got interesting.

1. Paul Kagame – President of Rwanda


Highlights: Paul Kagame is a Rwandan military leader and politician who is best known for defeating Hutu extremist forces to end the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In 2000 he became president of Rwanda and has been called Africa’s “biggest success story.”

Lowlights: There is total restrictions of the press. Reports have it that his opponents and critics are subject to harassment or have died suspiciously.

2. Yahya Jammeh – President of Gambia


Highlights: Under his leadership, Gambia’s performed well in agriculture, public infrastructure, health and education. In 2013, it’s economy grew at 5.4 percent marginally up from 5% in 2012.

Lowlights: His Excellency Sheikh, Professor, Alhaji, Doctor Yahya AJJ Jammeh Jammeh, as he requested to be called, threatened to ‘cut off the head’ of homosexuals in his country in 2008.

Last year he vowed to stay in power for “a billion years”, if God wills.

3. Blaise Compaore – Past President of Burkina Faso

Image By: UPI/Landov/Barcroft Media

Highlights: President Compaore has scored outstanding achievements in leading the people and government of Burkina Faso toward national development and elevating Burkina Faso’s international status.

Lowlights: In 2011 public protests in the streets of Burkina Faso began calling for his resignation over claims of government corruption and police brutality.

Compaore was finally ousted in a popular uprising last year as he attempted to extend his 27-year rule.

4. Muammar Gaddafi – Past President of Libya


Highlights: Under Gaddafi, Libya became the first developing country to own a majority share of the revenues from its own oil production.

Gaddafi provided access to free health care, safe houses, food and clean drinking water, free education to university level which led to the dramatic rise in literacy rates.

Lowlights: One of the greatest dictators in African history, met his end during the Libyan revolution in 2011 after he was killed by rebels in Sirte, his city of birth.

He spent 42 years in power and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of his own people.

5. Alpha Conde – President of Guinea Bissau


Highlights: Improving the scale and reliability of the electricity supply in Guinea has been one of President Condé’s top priorities since his election in 2010.

Lowlights: Conde’s peremptory mode of ruling the people of Guinea hasn’t gone unnoticed. His recently won re-election was reportedly marked with election rigging, voting malpractice and maneuvering.

6. Paul Biya – President of Cameroon


Highlights: He is known for ending the dispute over the oil-rich territory of Bakassi Peninsula with his neighbor, Nigeria, by moving to the International Court of Justice and signing the Greentree Agreement with the Nigerian government, in 2006.

Lowlights: Paul ranked 20 on the 2006 list of world’s worst living dictators compiled by renowned author David Wallenchinsky.

Since coming into power in 1983, his grip has been strong on the reins of power; allegations of corruption and voting maneuvering seems to be his forte.

7. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – President of Equatorial Guinea


Highlights: The nation has a relatively high per capita income, $27,000 USD, a figure not far from that of many developed countries. This achievement is largely due to its exploitation of crude oil and natural gas reserves coupled with its relatively small population

Lowlights:. Despite its apparent prosperity, its poverty ratio is high, with 76.8 percent of its population living in poverty in 2006. The median income of citizens is $2 a day. The average life expectancy is 53 years for adults and five years for infants.

8. Jose Eduardo dos Santos – President of Angola


Highlights: Jose Eduardo ended a two-decade-long war along the Angola-Namibia border by signing an agreement with Cuba’s President Fidel Castro to withdraw Cuban troops from Angola while also withdrawing South African troops from Angola too, also aiding South Africa’s recognition of Namibian independence.

Lowlights: Reports backed with purported evidence implies his birth certificate and origins state nothing of Angolan blood in him as neither his father nor mother is Angolan. His kleptocracy has been known to steal wealth running into billions of dollars while the majority of Angolans live beyond 2 dollars a day.

9. Uhuru Kenyatta – President of Kenya


Highlights: In 2013, the country rebased its GDP culminating in a rise from Sh3.8 trillion ($43 billion) to Sh5 trillion ($55 billion).

The rebasing, economists say, boosted the country making it the ninth largest economy in the continent and made it a lower middle-income country.

Lowlights: Kenyatta is still embrangled in epic strife over bloody discordant violence that erupted during his election in 2007 leaving over a thousand people dead.

He pleaded not guilty to the crimes. His case is still before the ICC, Hague.

10. ROBERT MUGABE – President Of Zimbabwe


Highlights: One of the undoubted achievements of Robert Mugabe’s 20 years in power is the expansion of education.

Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa at 85% of the population. He’s under fire for seizing and redistributing fertile farmlands owned by white men in Zimbabwe who used black Zimbabweans for labor while the Zimbabwean farmers farmed on soil-less farms.

Mugabe asked the white men “how many blacks have a huge farmland in Britain?”.

Lowlights: Despite the high literacy rate Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, over 60%.

The 87 year-old megalomaniac has vowed not to step down despite having ruled for over 24 years.

11. King Mswati III, King of Swaziland


Highlights: The King supported his first daughter, Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini with her launch of the Imbali Foundation in April 2014. The foundation focuses on health and education.

Lowlights: Swaziland has one of the world’s highest HIV prevalence rates: over 35 percent of adults.

Its average life expectancy is the lowest in the world at 33 years; nearly 70 percent of the country’s citizens live on less than $1 a day and 40 percent are unemployed.


12. General Sani Abacha – Past Military President of Nigeria


Highlights: He oversaw an increase in the country’s foreign exchange reserves from $494 million in 1993 to $9.6 billion by the middle of 1997, reduced the external debt of nigeria from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billion by 1997, while the nation’s primary commodity, oil was at an average of $15 per barrel.

Lowlights: On August 7, 2014, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the largest forfeiture in the DOJ’s history: the return of $480M to the Nigerian government.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell noted that. “Rather than serve his county, General Abacha used his public office in nigeria to loot millions of dollars, engaging in brazen acts of kleptocracy”.

13. Charles Taylor – Past President of Liberia


Highlights: In April 1951, Dr Charles Taylor established the first General Practice in the developing Harlow New Town.

Once established, Dr Taylor began negotiations with various bodies to develop the concept of the Primary Care Team and began designing a purpose-built health centre.

Lowlights: On 26 September 2013 the Court of The Hague found Charles Taylor guilty of crimes against humanity including unlawful killings, sexual violence, violence against humanity, pillage, enslavement, use of child soldiers and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

On 15 October 2013 he was transferred to British custody, and began serving his sentence at HM Prison Frankland in North East England.

14. Marcias Nguema, First President of Equatorial Guinea


Highlights: None

Lowlights: On 7 May 1971, Macías Nguema issued a decree that made him the ultimate power in the country, both executive, legislative, judiciary and cabinet of ministers.

That summer, Macías Nguema executed several members of his own family. He was overthrown by his nephew Theodoro Nguema. The Special Military Tribunal sentenced Marcias to death ‘101 times’.

15. Siad Barre – Past President of Somalia


Highlights: The first “revolutionary” years of Siad Barre were also noted with the successful creation of cooperative factories and farms of mass production, including sugar cane, mills, and meat processing that elevated the country’s economy.

Lowlights: Barre committed a significant amount of human rights violations such as jailing dissidents. Barre is known for using his power to remove all opposition or people who just didn’t like his leadership. Barre died in political exile in 1995.

16. Hissene Habre – Past President of Chad


Highlights: His rise to power was from Libya invading Chad. Habre and his troops defeated Libyan troops and sent them packing in November 1981.

Lowlights: However, many human rights groups hold Habre responsible for killing thousands of people. These killings include massacres against Hadjerai, and Zaghawa.

The Human Rights watch charged him with authorizing the murders of tens of thousands of humans and torturing them while under his rule.

17. General Idi Amin Dada – Past President of Uganda


Highlights: His popularity increased when he got rid of Ugandan prime minister, late Apollo Milton Obote’s secret police, freed political prisoners, and told Ugandans that he would hand power back to the people.

Lowlights: International observers and human rights groups estimate the death toll of his regime to be around 500,000.

Amin declared he had defeated the British and conferred on himself this full title: “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”

18. Mobutu See Seko – Past President of Democratic Republic of Congo


Highlights: He was successful in beating back all attempts to unseat him.

Lowlights: Mobutu changed the country’s name to Zaire in 1971. Known for his trademark leopard-skin hat, he plundered and looted his way to an estimated $5bn (£3.1bn), with homes in Switzerland and France.

19. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan – Past President of Nigeria

Omoni And Jonathan

Highlights: He began construction of the second Niger bridge, revived the automobile industry with the new automobile policy spurring the emergence of indigenous automobile companies, remodeled airports and built five new terminals to international standard.

He also signed Freedom of information(FOI) bill which past Nigerian leaders refused to sign.

Lowlights: Jonathan inherited over $60 billion in foreign reserve but plundered it to as low as $40 billion in five years.

As at June 2014, the country’s external debt rose by 40 per cent to $9.377 billion and a domestic debt of $47.653 billion. He is popular for the saying “stealing is not corruption.” During his time, corruption reigned supreme.

20. Samuel Doe – Past President of Liberia


Highlights: His seizure of power deposed interim President Toldert ending 110 years of rule by the True Whig Party and changed Liberian politics and society in fundamental ways.

He imposed a price freeze on all commodities including imported foods, doubled the salaries of civil servants and military personnel.

Lowlights: The early days of the regime were marked by mass executions of members of Tolbert’s deposed government.

He also made himself the supreme power. In September 1990 a group of rebels stormed into Liberia from Ivory Coast, captured and executed Doe.

21. King Goodwill Zwelithini – Zulu King of South Africa


Highlights: He is the reigning king of the Zulu nation nation under the traditional clause of South Africa.

Recently, the king was instrumental in reviving circumcision among Zulu men, which won the approval of HIV/AIDS awareness groups.

Lowlights: King Goodwill Zwelithini allegedly compared foreigners to ‘ants’ and ‘lice’. Back in 2012 the 67-year-old told followers homosexuals were ‘rotten’.

The Zulu king is blamed for sparking the xenophobic violence against foreigners which has seen South Africa’s streets turn into battlefields running with blood.

22. Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu – Leader of the Defunct Republic of Biafra


Highlights: Emeka Ojukwu began his controversial achievements while still in CMS grammar school. He assaulted a white British colonial teacher who humiliated a black woman, for which he was briefly imprisoned.

He refused to accept Yakubu Gowon as the Head of State and declared Biafra a country of it’s own which led to the first civil war in Nigeria leading to the death of millions in the south eastern part of Nigeria.

Lowlights: The war led to the death of millions of children, men and women. Emeka didn’t achieve his aim for the independence of the Republic of Biafra.


Written by PH

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