Sit-Tight-Syndrome: Longest Serving African Dictators Who Are Not Considering Stepping Down


In the quest for freedom, some African countries have ended up in some sort of perpetual slavery in the hands of sit-tight dictators. These African countries who were colonised by Europeans had some personalities who rose up like “Messiahs” to fight for their people’s freedom back in those days of colonialism. Unfortunately, some of these supposed Messiahs on seizing power turned into terror for their own people, making their people to go through what I call “a metamorphosis from foreign slavery to local slavery.” While it is almost a death sentence for some presidents to serve more than a tenure or at most for a decade, some of these “freedom-fighters-turned-tyrants” have ruled for up to 3 decades. These leaders are so much drunk with power that with the look of things, death is the only power that can separate them from their political post! Worst still, some of them seems to have the ability to live forever….Checkout the longest-serving African Dictators who do not allow stepping down to cross their minds:

11. Rep. of Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso

Since 1997 [18 years]


If not for the interruption of power encountered by Denis in 1992, he would have been among those taking the lead in this post. Denis Sassou Nguesso was initially President from 1979 to 1992. During his first period as President, he headed the single-party regime of the Congolese Party of Labour (PCT) for 12 years. Under pressure from international sources, he introduced multiparty politics in 1990 and was then stripped of executive powers by the 1991 National Conference, remaining in office as a ceremonial head of state. He stood as a candidate in the 1992 presidential election but was defeated, placing third. However, he returned to power in 1997 and since then, has been the president of the oil rich Republic. He has been severally accused of fund looting and mismanagement while his country suffered in penury.

10. Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh

Since 1994 [21 years]


Yahya Jammeh took over power from Sir Dawda Jawaraas president of Gambia in 1994 in a bloodless military coup. He was subsequently elected president in 1996, and is now serving his fourth five-year tenure. Jammeh has been accused of restricting freedom of the press. Harsh new press laws were followed by the unsolved killing of Deyda Hydara, editor of The Point tabloid. Hydara, who had been mildly critical of the Jammeh regime, was brutally gunned down in December 2004. He also does not have a good record on human rights recognition.

9. Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki

Since 1991  [24 years]

Eritrea President Afewerki speaks to reporters during a joint news conference with Yemeni counterpart Abdullah Saleh in Sana'a.  Eritrea President Isayas Afewerki speaks to reporters during a joint news conference with Yemeni counterpart Ali Abdullah Saleh at the conclusion of three days of talks in Sana'a December 10, 2004. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah - RTRHYEE

8. Chad’s Idriss Deby Itno

Since 1990 [25 years]


General Idriss Déby Itno‎ has been the President of Chad since 1990. Currently serving his fourth tenure, Deby has faced a lot of oppositions since he became Chad’s president but has never allowed any of those challenges to move him. In October 2006, Chad was placed at the top of the list of the world’s most corrupt nations by Forbes magazine for “what may turn out to be the single most piggish use of philanthropic funds” after proceeds from the Chad–Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project supposedly intended to counter famine were used to purchase weapons to keep Déby’s regime in power.

See: 10 African Countries With the Highest Military Strength and Fire Power

7. Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir

Since 1989 [26 years]


Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is the President of Sudan and the head of the National Congress Party. The now 73-year-old president came to power on 30th June, 1989. This was achieved when as a brigadier in the Sudanese Army, he led a group of officers in a military coup that ousted the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi after it began negotiations with rebels in the south. Omar is a gruesome dictator who has been accused of several dehumanizing atrocities including genocide, war crimes, violation of human rights, etc.

6. Swaziland’s King Mswati III

Since 1986 [29 years]

King Mswati III of Swaziland

Mswati III  is the current King of the Kingdom of Swaziland, a land located between South Africa and Mozambique, and as well, the head of the Swazi Royal Family. King Mswati III of Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchs in the world and particularly the last in Sub-Saharan Africa. He became King of Swaziland on 25th April 1986 at the age of 18 and has remained a globally controversial figure. According to reports, Mswati virtually does whatsoever pleases him without any form of significant restrictions. He obviously exercise absolute political and royal powers with as much selfish interests as possible. Mswati has been criticized for his lavish lifestyle whilst his people starve. Following criticism of his purchase of luxury properties, including a $50 million luxury plane, $500,000 DaimlerChrysler’s flagship Maybach 62 luxury automobile, he banned the photography of his vehicles.

Also see: 5 Richest Kings In Africa

5. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni

Since 1986 [28 years]


Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has been President of Uganda since 29 January 1986 and is currently serving his fourth tenure. Following the footsteps of predecessors like Idi Amin, Yoweri is one of the world’s worst dictators. Museveni was involved in rebellions that toppled Ugandan leaders Idi Amin (1971–79) and Milton Obote.

Museveni was once named the 6th world worst dictators by Forbes. He has been severally accused of amending the constitution to suit his whims. Despite all the name callings from his subjects, who are totally fed up with Museveni’s government, especially that of being referred to as a criminal, he is not at all perturbed. In recent times, he has restricted press freedom and according to Human Rights Watch, “Between January and June [2013], a media watchdog organization registered 50 attacks on journalists, despite multiple pledges to respect media freedom.” Yoweri MUseneni, born 15th September 1944 will soon clock 71.

4. Cameroon’s Paul Biya

Since 1982 [33 years]


Paul hails from Cameroon and was born in February 13 1933. Politics was always in Biya’s blood, and he has managed to be president for several terms, he has been the President of Cameroon since 6 November 1982. Biya has many critics for his lack of public appearances, but Biya wields his sweeping powers like a tyrant. He rules with his authoritarian fist that lets him essentially push any policies that he deems necessary. Though not the worst of the worst, Biya is one of the best known examples of authoritarianism. “Tyrants, the World’s 20 Worst Living Dictators”, by David Wallechinsky, ranked Biya together with three others mainly in sub-Saharan Africa: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, and King Mswati of Swaziland. He was also ranked 19th in Parade Magazine’s Top 20 list of “The World’s Worst Dictators”

3. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe

Since 1980 [35 years]


Robert Gabriel Mugabe is in fact, a resounding name in the ears of Africans and people in the entire globe. Popularly known for his sit-tight autocratic government, he is one of the longest-serving African leaders at the moment. Robert Mugabe is the current president of Zimbabwe, serving since 31st December 1987. In 1963, he founded ZANU, a resistance movement against British colonial rule, and in 1980, when British rule ended, Mugabe became prime minister of the new Republic of Zimbabwe and served in that office until 1987, when he became the country’s first executive head of state.

See: Everything You Must Know About The Purported Assassination Plot In Zimbabwe

After the 2013 presidential elections, Robert Mugabe won the elections for the 7th time. However, it has been repeatedly reported that the elections have been tainted by fraud and voter intimidation. He is actually one of those sit-tight leaders who does not even think that death will eventually separate them from power. Born on February 21, 1924, Mugabe is the 91 year oldest president in the world and is known for dozing off in public gatherings! The fact is that he does not even have any intention of stepping down. He recently reaffirmed his intention of contesting for the presidency, come 2018! He claims that age has not diminished his strength – saying, ‘I feel as energetic as a nine-year old boy.’ He is the African President that proposed marriage to the U.S President, Barack Obama over the gay marriage controversy. Lol.

2. Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos

Since 1979 [36 years]


José Eduardo dos Santos has been Angola’s president since 21st September, 1979. Seizing power after the natural death of his predecessor, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos lags just one month behind Obiang and is also the same age with him(both are 73). The president has a very unsavory human rights record, for instance, Angola is sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest oil producer and the seventh-largest supplier to the U.S.. The country is also the world’s fourth-largest producer of rough diamonds. Yet despite these plentiful resources, the people of Angola not directly related to the president remain desperately poor with 68 percent of the population living below the poverty line and life expectancy topping out at 41 years. It has been alleged that Dos Santos and his cabinet are responsible for silencing the media and harassing journalists who attempt to uncover details about their financial dealings. The president’s daughter, Isabel dos Santos is the richest woman in Angola and the entire Africa.

1. Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang

Since 1979 [36 years]

Brasília - Presidente Lula recebe em audiência o Presidente da Guiné Equatorial, Teodoro Obiang Nguema .

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, (the first President of the country) in an August 1979 military coup. He is the second and most long-lasting president of the Equatorial Guinea. Teodoro is not only Equatorial Guinea’s longest ruler but also Africa’s longest-serving President till date.

Read also: 10 Reasons African Presidents Are Perceived as Corrupt

Obiang is an African president known to possess great political and economic prowess. He presides over an African country with an unbelievable (by the standards of sub- Saharan Africa) per-capita income of $30,000, but most of the oil revenues are gobbled up by his family and inner circle. Consequently, 70 per cent of the country’s 680,000 people live below the poverty line, with little access to clean water and other basic necessities. Obiang is a fierce dictator, known as the country’s “torturer-in-chief” who has defied all oppositions and powers. Since 1979, he has been continually re-elected into power with not less than 90% of the votes. The opposition is severely hampered by the lack of a free press to express their views. Around 90% of all opposition politicians live in exile, 550 anti-Obiang activists have been jailed unfairly, and several killed since 1979. Sometime ago, the State Radio in Malabo, referred to Obiang as the “country’s God,” and claiming that he had “all power over men and things.”

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