‘Cannibal’ dictator invites SA to share in an oil feast

2011-10-22 21:29

As part of his worldwide charm ­offensive, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo came to visit President Jacob Zuma this week, bringing with him a handful of sweeteners courtesy of his country’s oil wealth.

Seen as a dictator by human rights groups and accused of being a cannibal, Obiang came with a clutch of ministers on Zuma’s invitation and promised many opportunities for South Africans to make money in Equatorial Guinea.

“Nations that share the same leanings must get together and grow closer,” he told journalists at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“There is no presence of South Africa in our development process. South African business can benefit from the big resources at our disposal,” Obiang said, dangling a carrot.

“[They can] get access to our immense resources that are there for all to partake of,” he said.

Equatorial Guinea’s economy depends almost entirely on oil, which generates revenue of over $4 billion (R32 billion) and makes the per capita annual income of the country $37 900 (R307 000) – the same as Belgium.

But this money does not trickle down to ordinary people.

According to Human Rights Watch, one in three people die before reaching 40, while on a 2006 list by Forbes, Obiang is listed as the world’s eighth richest leader, with a fortune estimated at $600 million (R4.7 billion).

Obiang has shared his wealth with his playboy son Teodorin, who is tipped as his father’s successor.

Despite his $5 000 (R41 000) ­monthly salary as agriculture minister, ­Teodorin has spent millions on flashy cars, big mansions and entertaining his friends all over the world (see sidebar).

He was said to be dating the rapper Eve, but she dumped him, according to US gossip sites, after she heard rumours about his father’s alleged cannibalism.

Obiang senior’s political opponent, Severo Moto, insisted in an interview with a Spanish radio station in March 2004 that the president was a cannibal who “eats his political rivals”.

“He has just devoured a police ­commissioner. I say devoured because this commissioner was buried without the testicles and the brain,” Moto said. “Obiang wants me to go back to Guinea ... [so he can] eat my testicles.”

Obiang hasn’t denied the allegations.

In an attempt to make himself more palatable to the rest of the world, he wanted Unesco to administer a prize for research in life sciences in his name.

He was willing to fork out $3 million (R24 million) for this, but Unesco has declined.

But Zuma is not too fussed, saying Unesco’s decision shows “bias”.

“(The rejection of the prize) shows how biased the world can be; one would’ve thought this would be embraced. It shows how prejudiced the world can be.”

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