The Liberian Central Bank, in a controversial decision yesterday, appointed Charles Sirleaf as its interim governor. Charles, son of the country’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was formerly the deputy governor of the apex bank and he replaces John Mills Jones who stepped down as governor earlier. However, this latest appointment seems to support the idea harboured by some Liberians, that Ellen Johnson only appoints her family members to key posts in order to consolidate her presidency. In 2012, rivals in her ruling party accused her of nepotism. She allegedly had 17 of her family members working in the country’s government. Another son of hers is the head of Liberia’s National Security Agency, while another was Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia before he retired in 2013. There were also rumours that John Mills Jones was hounded out of office by the president, after he expressed interest in running for president in Liberia’s next election in 2017. Johnson Sirleaf steps down as president next year after she expends the country’s presidential term limit.
Here are other African presidents who have controversially appointed family members into key posts in their countries:
Angola, Santos family
Jose Eduardo Santos has been the president of oil-rich Angola since 1979, even longer than Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. He has been accused of overseeing corruption in a country filled with endemic poverty, despite it being Africa’s second largest oil-producer. According to the United Nations Development Programme, more than a third of the 24 million population is living below the poverty line and nearly 70 percent live on less than $2 a day. Meanwhile, Jose Eduardo Santos reportedly has a net worth of $20 billion and it was in this kind of opulence that his children grew up in. His daughter, Isabel Dos Santos nicknamed “the princess”, is the richest woman in Africa and the youngest billionaire on the continent too. But all this started when she was given a stake in a deal between a government-owned mining company and an international diamond company. Since then, she has not looked back. Her half brother, Jose Filomeno dos Santos is the chairman of Angola’s Sovereign Trust Fund Company, Fundo Soberano de Angola.
South Africa, the Zumas
South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, faced accusations of favouritism after his daughter, Thuthukile Zuma, was appointed the Chief-of-staff in a government ministry in 2014. Zuma’s youngest daughter became the youngest head of a minister’s office with that appointment, sparking outrage and allegations of nepotism from many South Africans. Although she seems qualified for the job, the fact that she is the president’s daughter and was very young at the time made people question the fairness of her appointment. Her appointment joined a long list of accusations of patronage and cronyism, which does no good for Zuma’s ANC party image.
Gabon, the Bongos
Omar Bongo was Africa’s longest serving president before his death in 2009. He was criticized many times of only working for his family and his elitist friends and not for the people of Gabon. Three of his children held top tier posts while he was president; Pascaline, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1991 to 1994 and Director of the Cabinet of the President from 1994 to 2009; Martin Bongo who was the foreign Minister of Gabon from 1976 to 1989; and Ali Bongo who was Minister of Defense before he went on to become president after his Father’s death. It appears the family business is really booming in Gabon.