Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo, 74 years old
Time in Office: 43 years
Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo has been at the helm of affairs in Equatorial Guinea since he seized power in a 1979 coup. Despite the vast natural resources (crude oil and timber) at his disposal, Obiang’s 47 years in power has been marked by a declining quality of life among Equatorial Guineans, with the majority of his countrymen living below the poverty line.
Still, Obiang has maintained his hold on power by the use of state-sponsored violence to silence the opposition, rampant corruption, and an overall poor economic performance. Even as he positions his controversial son, Teodorin Obiang Nguema, to succeed him as president, he is one leader who needs to step aside in 2017.
Robert Mugabe, 92 years old
Time in Office: 29 years
At 92, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is the oldest “elected” head of government in the world. Mugabe and his ZANU PF party have ruled Zimbabwe since 1987.
Initially revered in his country and around the continent for his role in pushing out the British colonial government, but some people say Mugabe has now overstayed his welcome and squandered most of the goodwill he enjoyed from the majority of Zimbabweans.
Jose Eduardo Santos, 74 years old
Time in Office: 42 years
Like Theodore Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, President Jose Eduardo Santos has led Angola since 1979, presiding over an immensely oil-rich state. Angola is one of Africa’s biggest exporters of crude oil, second only to Nigeria. However, the effect of all those petrodollars has been lost on the average Angolan as more than 50 percent of the population continues to subsist on less than $2 a day.
Much of that oil wealth has instead gone directly to President Dos Santos, his family, and closest aides. His daughter, Isabel dos Santos, is Africa’s richest woman with an estimated worth of $3 billion. Her business interests include telecoms, banking, media, energy, and retail.
Last year, Santos announced plans to step down from office come 2018; yet, he has spent recent months inserting his children in to key government positions. In June, he shocked many when he sacked the entire board of state-owned oil company Sanongol and appointed his daughter Isabel as the new CEO.
Omar al-Bashir, 72 years old
Time in Office: 28 years
Sudan’s strongman leader Omar al-Bashir seized power in his country after a 1989 coup that kicked out then-Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. By 1993, al-Bashir stepped down from his military position and appointed himself as president. Since then, al-Bashir has continued to hold on to power in Sudan despite overseeing some of the darkest periods in the country’s history.
In the ’90s, the country suffered one of its worst inflation periods, when its official currency, the Sudanese pound, lost nearly 90 percent of its value. In addition, the brutal 2nd Sudanese civil war of 1983 to 2005 was fought mostly under his watch. The war led to the creation of South Sudan in 2011. Also under his watch, the Darfur war occurred; it is largely regarded as one of the greatest humanitarian crises in modern times.
In 2009, al-Bashir, 72, became the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. He was charged with war crimes, including rape and genocide, during the crises in the Darfur region.
A Wikileaks revelation estimates that Omar al-Bashir is worth almost $9 billion. Meanwhile, 44.8 percent of the Sudanese population live under the poverty line. In 2015, al-Bashir won a Sudanese presidential election riddled with irregularities and the intimidation of the opposition with 94 percent of votes cast.
Isias Afwerki, 70 years old
Time in Office: 23 years
Isias Afwerki became Eritrea’s president following its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Afwerki rose to prominence as a leader of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, leading the EPLF to victory in its war of independence from Ethiopia.
In the years since independence, though, Afwerki became increasingly tyrannical and his extremely repressive leadership style has been compared to the regime in North Korea. In addition, his government has consistently ranked at the very bottom of the Reporters Without Borders index of press freedom.
Amnesty International estimates that Afwerki may have imprisoned as many as 10,000 political prisoners. Torture, imprisonments, and forced disappearances are a standard feature of his government.
The youths of Eritrea, many of whom are fleeing the country in droves and traveling across the Mediterranean in overcrowded vessels to escape his repressive regime, surely can’t wait to see Afwerki out of office.
Paul Biya, 83 years old
Time in Office: 35 Years
Despite having no military background, President Paul Biya of Cameroon consistently ranks as one of the worst dictators in the world. Biya is a career politician who previously held several leadership positions under former President Ahmadou Ahidjo. In 1982, Ahidjo resigned from office and installed Biya as a chosen successor. Relations between the two, however, quickly deteriorated and Ahidjo fled in to exile.
In 1984, Biya foiled a military coup against his government. In the aftermath, he solidified his hold on power. President Biya regularly makes elaborate pretensions of conducting democratic elections, but in practice, Cameroon remains under his tyrannical grip.
Under Cameroon’s constitution, Biya has sweeping executive and legislative powers. In 2008, he forced a constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits and made him eligible to seek re-election indefinitely.
At 83 years old, Biya rarely makes public appearances in Cameroon, choosing instead to spend as much as three months straight holidaying in exclusive European resorts at the expense of his fellow countrymen.
He is also Africa’s highest paid head of government with an annual salary of nearly $500,000 — more than 229 times that of the average Cameroonian. He surely needs to save his countrymen all that money.
Time in Office: 8 years
Life-long politician and African National Congress (ANC) stalwart, Jacob Zuma became South Africa’s third post-Apartheid president when he was elected by parliament in 2009. Zuma had previously served as a deputy under President Thabo Mbeki, and like most frontline ANC leaders, Zuma suffered imprisonment, exile, and human right’s abuses under the former Apartheid government of South Africa.
Zuma’s time in office, however, has been mired by several controversies. Allegations of fraud and financial misconduct are never far away from him. On assumption of office, he refused to declare his assets and other financial interests as required by the constitution.
It must also be said that Zuma has a well-documented history of general impropriety and financial misconduct. Earlier in 2005, during his time as vice president, Zuma was charged with the rape of a woman who considered him a father figure.
Indeed, he did not manage to see out his tenure as vice president as he was summarily dismissed from office following an indictment over charges of corruption and abuse of office.
More recently, Zuma has been embroiled in a corruption scandal over the use of public funds for the renovation of his private residence.
Zuma’s leadership has served to undermine the credibility of the ruling ANC, and the party lost ground for the first time in the last municipal elections, securing only 54 percent of the total votes cast.Jacob Zuma, 74 years old