Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Will 2012 see more strong men of Africa leave office?

December 30, 2011

By Isaac Esipisu

There are many reasons for being angry with Africa ’s strong men, whose autocratic ways have thrust some African countries back into the eye of the storm and threatened to undo the democratic gains in other parts of the continent of the past decades.

For those who made ultimate political capital from opposing strongman rule in their respective countries, it is a chilling commentary of African politics that several leaders now seek to cement their places and refusing to retire and watch the upcoming elections from the sidelines, or refusing to hand over power after losing presidential elections.

In 2012 one of the longest strong men of Africa, President Abdoulaye Wade’s country Senegal is holding its presidential elections together with other countries like Sierra Leon, Mali, Mauritania, Malagasy, and will be shortly followed by Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Yoweri Museveni and Paul Biya of Cameroon , who are among the longest-ruling leaders of the Africa , won their respective presidential elections and continue to have a stronghold on their respective countries, albeit with charges raised of serious election malpractice. Eduardo Dos Santos of Angola, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo Republic and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will in one or two years face the electorate in an effort to further cement their authoritarian leadership.

What happened in the second half of 2011 in North Africa and more specifically in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya does not seem to have had any kind of effect on other Sub-Saharan African Leaders.  In fact, they have strengthened their stronghold on power and in some countries even harassed and jailed opposition leaders.

In 2011, Africa for the first time witnessed the removal from power of three sitting presidents without an election. This was historical. Several leaders are preparing for elections and whether they win or lose will entirely depend on them and on which direction their country’s leadership will take.

Many long-serving presidents still cling on power even after the uprising in North Africa . Will the year 2012 see more of them leave office? Will it be through elections or an uprising like the one witnessed in North Africa ?


While it must be acknowledged that the African continent is in the transition from strongmen – dictators -who ruled without any form of democratic process, it has to be highlited that overall the continent is years away from real change.

During this transition, not only some are truly elected in a fair democratic process, some other are the product of vote rigging or electoral fraud.

The recent elections in Democratic Republic of Congo not only remind us of the Mobutu’s era, but re-ignite the debate on whether elections are worth holding or should we carry on with arms uprising to the last blood of Congolese.

What is controversial in the Congolese case is that leaders such Jacob Zuma helped Kabila on behalfof the Western governments in printing and stuffing ballot papers.

The light may not yet be at the end of the tunnel for most of the africans

Posted by MANDANGI | Report as abusive

Year 2012 will see more upward looking events in Africa and I believe that more of the non-democratically elected presidents will be remove. Egypt, Lybya, Algeria e.t.c have all open the eyes of many African Nations that we are now in a world of Democracy and Human Rights.
It should now be cleared to those remaining so called leaders that 2012 will be a year when many citizens of many African country are ready to fight for their rights.

Posted by uncommondeal | Report as abusive

If it were just for the people’s will, yes, more strong men would be removed. But for geopolitical reasons they are needed. Would a Museveni be removed at a time when the US send troops to catch LRA’s Kony? Or the Ethiopian leader while the west, via the UN is trying to repel the Al-Shabaab militia. Chad’s Deby or Cameroon’s Biya may still be there for the same reasons although the latter was given some kind of warning during the last elections, which the US (and then timidly France) said were marred by irregularities… The other strong men need to be taken on a case by case basis: Kabila’s case is different in that there seems to be a “Congo fatique” syndrome in the West, which he is probably banking on to get away with substandard recent elections. Zimbabwe is also another complex case because of the powerful armed forces and as the impoverished population faces problems on a daily basis and too many logistical problems to organise itself. Things are, however changing, thanks to technology, especially mobile phones and there may be a few surprises this year. Even Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, who, because of his attempt to change the constitution, now falls in the “strong man” category, knows this. The army, however, is key in Subsaharan Afria. For more information: per/AfriMAP_NAfrica_Boka_EN.pdf

Posted by lydieboka | Report as abusive

I relly am interested in the question of the effect or potential effect of technological devices in desposing the ‘unwanted’ regimes

Posted by sinyoro | Report as abusive

The Events of the last year in Algeria libya and Egypt have for sure made some sort of effect on the respective countries, but weather or not this effect has been felt by the people of the rest of the continent is i feel questionable. In most cases reasons for protests are frustration leading to agression (as hanna arendt has pointed out). Now unless this frustration is backed by some kind of planning and a real leader then it just ends up being a fruitless protest. I think we can all learn something from these countries and it is true that they can also be looked at as exemplery nations but the way things went down is not necessarily the best way it could have gone. It all depends on how we chose to analyse the situation, and we really do need to analyse it in order to even deem them as exemplery. At this point the best thing to do is to look at these cases and study their sequence and basic happenings. Since not every country in Africa is the same the way things are going to go is impossible to predict based on these three particular countries.

Posted by leahai | Report as abusive

Abdoulaye Wade just started what could end as a series of riots and protests comparable to Egypt’s. He must go and it will not end well for him if he keeps on clinging on to power this way.

Posted by mdiallo | Report as abusive

Two gone already Mali and Senegal, Zimbabwe, Equitorial Guiene, Uganda and Angola still to change leadership. I predict the change will follow this sequence

Posted by Ismail147 | Report as abusive

I am interested in people’s opinion to choose whether to remove the ruling government or not however due to the tactics these presidents (who do not want to get out of power)use, u will choose to blame the people who re-elect these presidents. its not good for the president to stay in power for more than 15 years it means now he running out of course even when is so much intelligent and may the people he/she leads love him. i8 will give a case study President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda where he use money to bribe people to elect or him since he know his people are poor and may be the 4 dollars he has offered will give him support and ends up becoming beating him counterparts sorry Uganda had it not been poverty.

Posted by sinyora | Report as abusive

They Said Leave? haha, if they have oil they won’t just leave, they’ll be killed by america.

Posted by Billions18 | Report as abusive

i am wondering how the populations of countries collect taxes in order to run governments entirely disheveled from these rebellions of existing governments.
if the taxes are too high then how do these governments function at all?
if the governments do not Form to help the population then how do the countries ever rebound? it seems to me , that there could be an African delegated transitional government appointed to various countries immediately after each rebellion. that way the government of the continent would be slowly finding more and more common ground .
if every existing government had representatives in the process , and if they also had members of the transitional government And these members of the transitional government would be recalled after an interim time period of a specified time period… that would alleviate the strife within borders and provide competent ,experienced government with a more consolidated view if even only for that transitional phase.
if that could be done then Africa would gradually find more points of agreement within its governing bodies and greater stability of the continent.

Posted by clean | Report as abusive

What i see taking these seemingly unfading African magnets is going to be poor health status; If they cant leave democratically other factors will see them give up. Bingu Wa Mutharika should pose as example to some of these leaders insisting on leading their countries through ill-health. Besides the longer the stay the less productive a country is – all factors constant

Posted by JoyDoreenBiira | Report as abusive

l’afrique est un continent d’avenir où les choses vont se bousculer dans un avenir proche: spirituellement,scientifiquement,politiq uement et enfin économiquement voilà les choses qui vont changées le monde.

Posted by dumoulin | Report as abusive

Let’s start with Netanyahu

Posted by Bucky_2 | Report as abusive

I am reminded ofan old country song- mind your own business so you won’t be minding mine. America must go home from all of the countries is tries to control and take it’s money with it. The only thing these countries respect is power and we refuse to use it so let’s go home.Sae money for Americans not haters.

Posted by oldtaxpayer | Report as abusive

It seems Mugabe will cling to power forever, I think he is immortal – or is being replaced with lookalikes. I wonder if the ANC will ever give up power, even if they are voted out.

Posted by nuusreeder | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see