Since the Western colonizers left Africa, mainly in the 1960s, the world has been treated to all manner of political contests, some of them disastrous, as African leaders hustle for power. Some have massacred their own people just to gain or retain power, while others have ended up in jail for subverting the will of the people.
Everybody seems hell-bent on obtaining the big title and the trappings of power that come with it. Otherwise, why would someone risk destroying everything just to win a political seat? Among the reasons why most African Presidents don’t want to retire is the hefty salaries they earn.
Majority of these heads of state are entitled to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, not to mention the piles of financial privileges and benefits they are entitled to. Here are the top five highest paid African presidents.
Jacob Zuma, South Africa
The South African President Jacob Zuma, who is currently facing countless allegations of corruption and misuse of public resources, is said to be the highest paid African head of state with an annual income of more than $270,000.
Zuma, who assumed office in May 2009, is often accused of embezzling the country’s resources and partnering with people of questionable character to loot the public coffers. Last year, he admitted to having used public money, which ran into millions of dollars, to unlawfully renovate his private castle in South Africa.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria is estimated to earn an annual salary of more than $168,000, without including the hefty allowances and other financial benefits that he is entitled to as the head of state.
Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 is largely hailed for ending years of civil war in the North African nation and doing away with the emergency rule in 2011 during the deadly Arab Spring. He is currently out of action after he was reportedly diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2008.
Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya
Being the son of Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta, President Uhuru Kenyatta is used to enjoying the finer things in life. His current annual salary is estimated to be over $132,000. However, the Kenyan President shocked the world in 2014 when he accepted a pay cut that reduced his basic monthly salary from $14,000 to $11,000.
President Kenyatta, who is currently serving his second and final term, assumed office in 2013 and has not been personally linked to corruption. However, his administration has been marred by numerous corruption scandals, some running into millions of dollars.
Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt
The controversial Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who assumed office in 2014 after the deadly 2011 Arab Spring, is estimated to earn an annual salary of more than $70,000. As a General and head of the Egyptian military, El-Sisi was instrumental in the ouster of his predecessor President Mohamed Morsi.
El-Sisi’s administration has often been accused of dictatorship, corruption and human rights abuses, all of which he has strongly denied, citing Western interference. A section of Egyptians now sees his government as a replica of Morsi’s authoritarian regime.
Paul Kagame, Rwanda
Having assumed office in 2000, the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was re-elected for his third term in August this year, is one of the highest paid African Presidents. His current annual salary stands at $85,000, with loads of other financial privileges.
Many Rwandans don’t have a problem with Kagame’s salary because they believe he has enabled the country, which was badly shattered by the ugly events of 1994, to get back on its feet. Nonetheless, he has often been accused of heavy-handedness and human rights abuses.
In dollars, these amounts might seem reasonable, but when they are converted to local currencies, they tell a whole different story. They also bring to the fore serious questions about the most reasonable salary that an African president should earn given the current economic situation on the continent.