African Presidents on the spot for ‘family’ appointments
Being part of the First Family in Africa could mean many things, including residing in a secured environment, learning at the best possible institutions, and serving in influential positions.
Amid increased debate as to whether these perks are deserved, here are some cases of how members of the first family have benefitted in the recent past.
1. Malawi – This week, President Lazarus Chakwera hired his daughter Violet as a personal assistant in the Office of the President, before forwarding her to work for his wife, the First Lady, in the same capacity. This caused hue and cry in the public, but a government spokesperson defended the move, claiming Violet is only one of the 2000 people hired by the Head of State since he assumed office in 2020.
2. Equatorial Guinea – President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea is the longest-serving president in the world, having been in office for 42 years now since overthrowing his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, in a bloody coup then sentenced him to death in 1979. And in 2016, Teodoro promoted his son, Teodorin Obiang Mangue from 2nd vice president to vice president of the country. This implies, constitutionally speaking, that Obiang junior is in line to succeed his 79-year old dad. Obiang junior, known for his lavish lifestyle, has severally been forced to fight off corruption allegations and was only recently denied a Visa to the UK.
3. Gabon – Omar Bongo was the first president of this central African country since its independence up until 2009 when he died. During the deceased president’s time in office, the ministry of foreign affairs was entrusted only to close relatives like his daughter Pascaline and son Ali. Following his death, Omar was succeeded by his son, Ali Bongo Ondimba, who served as minister of defence for 10 years during his father’s presidency and has served a seven-year term since his father’s death.
And in 2018, President Ali Bongo suffered a severe stroke which forced him to appoint, wait for this, his eldest son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, as coordinator of presidential affairs. Besides, the President’s other daughter, Malika Bongo Ondimba, is the mayor of Akanda town and reported to be in line to succeed his father.
4. Uganda – President Yoweri Museveni is one of the world’s longest serving presidents. He has been in power since shooting his way into State House in 1986 (32 years). And the former guerrilla leader appears to trust his family while considering public office appointments perhaps more than anyone else. He recently promoted his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba to the commander in the Ugandan army, which effectively makes him the second in command in the military. The 76-year old has also appointed his wife Janet, the First Lady as Minister of Education and Sports. Not done, Museveni’s son-in-law Odrek Rwabogo doubles up as the President’s advisor for special duties whilst his stepbrother Salim Saleh has previously served as Minister for Microfinance.
5. Democratic Republic of Congo – The country’s former president Laurent Kabila (deceased) appointed his son Joseph Kabila as a senior military officer. He ruled for four years and upon his assassination, Joseph took over and ruled the country for 24 years after intervention from Mwenze Kogola, the then Minister for Justice. He has been succeeded by Felix Tshisekedi, son of Etienne Tshisekedi (former prime minister during Laurent Kabila’s presidency) won the election.
6. Angola – José Eduardo dos Santos served as president of Angola from 1979 to 2017 (38 years). Santos fled the country after the newly elected president declared a war on corruption and pointed out the mistakes of Santos’ governance. During his reign, her daughter, Isabel established a number of investments in media, banking, diamonds, mass distribution of building materials among others. She was also the president of the national oil company, Sonogal that she was fired from soon after Joao Lourenco became president.
Her brother, Joe Filomeno, also served as head of the Angolan sovereign fund but was dethroned moments after his father was ousted. was also relieved of his duties at the Angolan sovereign fund.