If your country conducts free and fair elections every few years, chances are you live in a democratic country. Now, in case you’re unaware, A dictatorship is essentially a system of governance in which one person or a small number of people has total authority over the rest of the country without effective constitutional restraints.
The most famous examples are perhaps that of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Dictators frequently obtain totalitarian political Power by force or fraud, which they retain through intimidation, fear, propaganda, and the restriction of fundamental civil freedoms. So, who are the top five dictators in Africa still in Power today? Let’s find out in this video.
5. Mswati III, leader of Swazilan
Born in 1968, Mswati III is the king of Eswatini and also the head of the Swazi royal family. He was just eighteen when he got crowned as Mswati III, the King of Swaziland, in 1986. This made him the youngest ruling monarch in the world at that time.
Mswati III has escaped charges of brutal repression and extrajudicial murders, thanks to a lack of political opposition, but his retinue of 14 wives was established by marrying several underage girls, some of whom the king picked on a whim. His most atrocious action appears to be enjoying a lavish lifestyle “befitting a monarch” while his people suffer from great poverty.
Mswati III is the absolute monarch of the country, and he appoints the Prime Minister, ministers, judges, and civil servants. People have been demanding political reforms and want to choose their own Prime Minister. Since 1973, political parties were banned in the country.
Protests were banned in the country, with the National Police Commissioner warning that protesters would face “zero-tolerance” from authorities.
With a fortune of around $100 million, he presides over one of the world’s poorest country, with the majority of people living in absolute poverty.
Increased financial difficulties led to further cuts in Swaziland’s flailing health-care sector. The country has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, at 26%, but has been unable to provide adequate treatment for its citizens due to antiretroviral drug and HIV testing shortages. Swaziland has a life expectancy of 48 years old, according to the World Health Organization.
Swaziland is also in the grip of a political crisis. Under Swazi law, King Mswati III retains absolute control over the executive, legislature, and judiciary and is immune from civil and criminal prosecution.
4. Isaias Afwerki – Eritrea’s President
Born in 1946, Isaias Afwerki is an Eritrean leader who has been President of Eritrea since 1991. This was after he led the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front to victory and essentially ended the 30-year-old war for independence from Ethiopia. However, no one would have imagined Isaias continuing to rule for 30 years and counting.
During his reign, he has been accused of totalitarianism and cited by the UN and Amnesty International for human rights breaches. The UN discovered and published very horrifying results. The UN Committee of the investigation concluded that Eritrea was run by a totalitarian regime with no accountability and no rule of law, citing “systematic, pervasive, and severe human rights abuses.”
In their 2021 Press Freedom Index, “Reporters Without Borders” also rated Eritrea, under the administration of Isaias, last out of 180 nations.
Eritrea has been an independent country since 1993, yet it lacks a constitution and no parliament. There has never been a budget that has been made public. Elections have never taken place, and Isaias’ opponents are imprisoned.
Because Isaias governs without reference to a constitution or parliament, and without an independent judiciary, these violations may only be attributed to him. The president is surrounded by a small group of military and party officials who follow his orders.
Thousands of Eritreans, many of them children, have been forced into exile as a result of Eritrea’s injustices. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), by the end of 2018, 507,300 Eritreans had fled the country, that number accounts for roughly 10% of the population.
3. Paul Biya – Cameroon’s President
Born in 1933, Paul Biya is the current President of Cameroon, who has maintained his Power since 1982. The mere fact that Biya has been ruling for more than 39 years alone speaks volumes about his authoritarianism.
As with most dictators, Paul Biya also consolidated Power through a staged attempted coup in 1983, where he managed to eliminate all his rivals.
In the 1980s, Biya implemented political changes within the constraints of a one-party government. After local and foreign pressure, he finally agreed to the establishment of multiparty politics in the early 1990s, but it barely made a difference. He was re-elected by significant percentages in 1997, 2004, 2011, and 2018. In each of these instances, opposition leaders and Western countries have claimed election anomalies and fraud. Many impartial sources have also stated that he did not legitimately win the 1992 election and that future elections were rife with fraud.
Paul Biya turned 88 on February 13, 2021, making him one of the world’s oldest presidents. Because he has been in power for nearly 38 years, it is more accurate to call him one of the world’s oldest dictators.
It was merely for show that a multi-party system was opened up. In reality, Biya secretly controls hundreds of small parties with the goal of weakening the opposition. Freedom of the press is practically non-existent: the president’s men control state television with an iron hand, and the few remaining newspapers are frequently censored if they dare to criticize the government. Because judges are nominated directly by the president, political opponents are punished or incarcerated, the judiciary is not an independent body.
2. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea’s President
Born in 1942, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been the President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 when he successfully staged a military coup.
A new constitution was drafted under him in 1982, and Obiang made himself President. The new constitution also gave and continues to give Obiang very extensive powers, including the ability to govern by decree. Keeping this in mind, he was re-elected in 1989, 1996, and 2002. In 1989 he was the only candidate, which strongly reeks of authoritarianism. And in 1996 and 2002, when other candidates did participate, international observers clearly termed the election results as false.
Despite him legalizing other parties, most local and international observers still see him as one of the world’s most corrupt, ethnocentric, authoritarian, and undemocratic rulers. The situation is bad enough that Obiang was dubbed Africa’s worst dictator by American writer Peter Maass in 2008.
Political opposition groups face constant state harassment and hold only one seat in the 170-member bicameral parliament. Authorities arrest dozens of people suspected to be associated with political opposition groups.
The government also frequently attempts to silence non-political critics. In 2017, authorities imprisoned an artist who draws cartoons lampooning the president for nearly six months, while a teacher sat in prison for seven months without charge after a voicemail he sent to a friend lambasting government corruption was posted online.
The Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, in office since 2012. He is a son of Teodoro Obiang, is well-known for his extravagant lifestyle. He has faced a number of international criminal charges and fines for suspected embezzlement and corruption.
In 2017 judge found him guilty of embezzlement and ordered the seizure of his assets in the nation.
In his absence, he received a three-year suspended sentence and a fine of 30 million euros, and his luxury possessions in France were seized. One of his seized properties in Paris is valued at more than $120 million.
1. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni – Uganda’s President
Born in 1944, Museveni is the current President and dictator of Uganda. In 1980, Museveni lost his presidential bid and claimed that the elections were neither free nor fair. It won’t be wrong to say that this was perhaps the first undemocratic move made by Museveni. He also decided not to challenge the election results in any Courts of law and instead entered a five-year bush war in which 800,000 people were killed.
It is safe to say that Museveni didn’t come to power through a democratic process and even caused the death of hundreds of thousands. Today, while Museveni holds Power, Uganda does have elections, but they are merely symbolic. Interestingly enough, it is also Museveni who appoints the chairperson and its commissioners of the so-called independent electoral commission, which is basically the very same commission that plans and organizes and the entire process that he has participated in more than four times. In other words, Museveni is heading a procedure that may appear democratic on the outside but is perhaps the epitome of dictatorship in reality.
To stay in power, Museveni first pushed through a constitutional amendment that removed the 75-year-old presidential age limit; he is now 76. in the January 2021 Presidential elections He refused to accredit election observers from the United States and the European Union for the first time in decades, and more than two dozen Ugandan monitors were arrested. He blocked Facebook two days before the election, which had taken down scores of accounts used by the government to manipulate information and opinion about the election. All Internet access in Uganda was blocked the next day.
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known as Bobi Wine, a 38-year-old rapper turned political leader who was Mr. Museveni’s main opponent, was the target of the regime’s most blatant actions. Bobi Wine was arrested three times throughout the campaign, along with at least 600 supporters at his rallies. His bodyguard was murdered, his lawyer was arrested, and journalists who covered him had their credentials revoked. Worst of all, in November during the campaign when Bobi Wine was arrested which sparked mass protests, security forces opened fire, killing at least 54 people.
Hundreds of ordinary Ugandans suspected of supporting opposition politicians have been arrested by security forces in the country’s worst wave of repression in decades.
Many people were subjected to systematic torture, incarceration in disgusting conditions in frequently secret jails, and denial of access to family members or lawyers.