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African Dictators Work Hard Too

30 June 2012, 08:18  - Tendai Tagarira

African Dictators are often portrayed as grossly inefficient in managing state affairs and they are. But one has to give them credit for being the most hard working of tyrants.

Surely, to reduce a whole nation to poverty and starvation must take quite some hard work.

 It must be exhausting to steal all those billions of dollars and stash them away in offshore accounts.

It definitely takes a lot of muscle to rule with a tight grip and suppress a whole nation. 

Elections are probably the toughest time for Africa's tyrants as they have to apply a cosmetic show of democracy to the world, in order to garner some form of legitimacy.

I doubt it is easy to steal the ballot in front of the whole world. But some of our African dictators seem to get away with it. Mugabe tried stealing the ballot in 2008, but the world was unconvinced.

So he turned to a cosmetic democracy theatrical by partnering opposition leader,Morgan Tsvangirai to form the GNU. This guaranteed his political survival for the time being, but I don't think this was an easy option for a man who is used to rule the roost without being challenged.

Mugabe once told Tsvangirai, Zviroto zviroto, ngazviperere kuzviroto, “Dreams are dreams and dreams should end in your dreams” This is clearly not a man who wants to share power. I am sure having to share the government with Morgan Tsvangirai is a stone in his shoe. Sooner or later some run out of luck.

Recently we saw Charles Taylor, Gaddafi, Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak run out of luck. Taylor was sentenced to 50 years by the ICC, sending shivers down many African tyrants.

Personally I think these dictators should be tried in their home countries. I find it absurd that the ICC seems to only persecute African dictators when the world is littered with so many corrupt politicians.

 In any case, I think the justice system in Africa is good enough to try these deposed tyrants and bring some closure to the citizens.

Such is the case of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.  When the end is nigh, some dictators have it pretty rough, as the case of Gadaffi. In his last moments, the megalomaniac was clutching a golden pistol and hiding underneath a dirty bridge.


All the billions he stashed away in secret offshore funds abroad could not help him. He died with a bullet through his head and flies buzzing over his copse.


Personally I think the way he was killed is not a good foundation to replace a tyrant with good governance. Violence often begets violence. I think it would have been prudent to have him tried by his people like what is happening to Mubarak. 


For his hard work in remaining in power, Zimbabwe's Mugabe rewarded himself by expanding Gushungo Estates, a vast network of farms taken over from both black and white farmers. He clearly indulges in the vast diamond revenues that Finance Minister Biti can not account for.

Mugabe spends millions on foreign trips with his large entourage, blowing government funds. This is his way of rewarding himself I guess, for managing to remain in power for so long. Recently, a former pilot of his was forced to stop building a 200 million rand mansion in Cape Town, which many speculate is a front for the Mugabe's.

I am sure Mugabe and his wife are splashing their ill-gotten wealth by building many mansions abroad.  Former Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha had mansions in the French Riviera, rewarding himself an aristocratic lifestyle for his hard work, like the silencing freedom of speech when he had Ken Saro Wiwa hanged.

I am sure the British Shell Petroleum company rewarded him with lucrative kickbacks when he silenced Saro Wiwa. Yet Saro Wiwa fights on from the grave. In Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang (the son of dictator president Obiang) is building a yacht worth about USD 200 million.

He has several mansions dotted in several countries. He flies his jet ski toys on a private gulf stream jet to Monaco where the rich and wealthy hang out, displaying his show of ill goten wealth. The yacht he his building is fully equipped with a basketball court and other untold luxuries.

Equatorial Guinea has almost the same GDP per capita as Denmark and Belgium, yet its citizens live on less than a dollar a day. Now his father is working very hard to have criminal charges brought against him in a French court quashed. Surely, African dictators work hard to remain in power.

Their hard work however benefits themselves and their top aids or boot lickers. The fruits of their labour is not hard to see on the streets of Africa, where the majority live on less than a dollar a day.

One can see it in the infrastructure that never gets developed, the dams and bridges that never get build. One can see it in the suffering eyes of the citizens, who are often reduced to destitution. This is the success of the African dictators enterprise of amassing wealth at the expense of the people. The question is, for how long they can get away with it? 

Until next time Tendai Tagarira Author and African Renaissance man.

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