10 Most Corrupt African Dictators & Worst Leaders in Modern History
10 Most Corrupt African Dictators in Modern History

10 Most Corrupt African Dictators in Modern History

Stephanie Schoppert - October 8, 2016

10 Most Corrupt African Dictators in Modern History

Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

(1965 – 1997)

Mobutu Sese Seko was a leader that was able to bleed his country dry while still enjoying the support of countries like the United States because of his anti-communist stance. Mobutu Sese Seko led a coup d’état with the help of Belgium against the democratically elected president Patrice Lumumba. Patrice Lumumba was killed and Mobutu Sese Seko took over the role of army chief of staff in 1960. In 1965 he took power directly and declared himself leader of the Congo. He would later rename the country Zaire but it would become the Democratic Republic of the Congo when Mobutu was ousted from power.

He created a one-party state that concentrated all power in his hands. He created a culture that was based around his worship and he often flaunted his personal extravagance to build up on his cult of personality. His highly centralized government allowed him to loot the state coffers with impunity, leading many to call his government a “kleptocracy” due to the massive amount of funds he stole. He forced all foreign investors from the country and nationalized all foreign-owned firms. The management of said firms was passed to relatives or allies which would just steal the assets of the company. He lived an opulent lifestyle with state funds and amassed a personal fortune of more than $5 billion.

His reign was also filled with human rights abuses. He would imprison, torture and kill his political opponents often publicly. He would lure opponents who went into exile by promising them amnesty only to torture them once they emerged. His reign of terror and theft came to an end with the First Congo War when Laurent-Desire Kabila took control of the government with the support of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.


Sources For Further Reading:

Foreign Policy – How the World’s Hardest-Working Dictator Won Re-election

BBC News – Sani Abacha: 10 Reasons Why Nigerians Go Always Tok About Di Late Dictator

The Washington Post – How Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Clung To Power For Almost 40 Years

The Independent – Mugabe Extends Term To Declare Himself The ‘President-For-Life’

PBS Frontline – Cameroon: Pipeline to Prosperity?

BBC – Chad’s Hissene Habre

DW – Chad Leader Idriss Deby Dies On Battlefield After Winning Reelection

Brookings – The Death Of Chadian President Idris Déby Itno Threatens Stability In The Region

The Conversation – Idriss Déby Itno Offered Chadians Great Hope, But Ended Up Leaving A Terrible Legacy

The New York Times – Hunting for Liberia’s Missing Millions

The Washington Post – Mobutu: A Rich Man In Poor Standing

New York Times – Mobutu Sese Seko, Zairian Ruler, Is Dead in Exile in Morocco at 66