World Bank: Primitive theft of public resources and institutionalised violence in Africa are crimes against humanity

World Bank: Primitive theft of public resources and institutionalised violence in Africa are crimes against humanity


As he stepped down from power in 2017, José Eduardo dos Santos was Angola’s richest man with a net worth of $20 billion. All members of his family were extremely rich too.

In 2013, Forbes declared the president’s daughter, Ms Isabel dos Santos, the richest woman in Africa, with an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). She was dropped from the list in 2020, with Forbes estimating that $1.6bn in assets are frozen in Angola and Portugal. Ms Dos Santos was still believed to be worth over $2 billion in January 2020.

It is alleged that President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni of Uganda is one of the richest politicians in the country and amongst the top 20 richest presidents in Africa. This is according to a list compiled by As of 2022, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni’s net worth is estimated to be around $50 million, which is roughly equivalent to about Ush180 billion. He has accumulated this incredible fortune from his career in politics, as well as from agricultural investments.

One school of thought has it that he has also made a lot of money from commissions given to him by investors in energy and other sectors of the economy. It should be remembered that the World Bank, which funds many programmes and projects in Uganda regards commissions as legitimate aspects of doing business.

Robert Mugabe the Zimbabwean revolutionary president and politician, had a net worth of $20 million at the time of his death in 2019. Robert Mugabe’s was exposed by lavish and decadent ways according to Ian Cobain, writing in The Guardian in November 2017. The flamboyant president was said to have assets of 1bn Pounds. He was said to have spent $ 75,000 on luxury goods on a single shopping spree in Paris, France.

The wealth of Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace came to light in 2015 during their dispute over ownership of a $7.6 million home in Hong Kong. Another indication of wealth in the family of Mugabe was when the government owned Herald newspaper reported that his wife had ordered a $1.35 million diamond ring to mark her wedding anniversary.

It was claimed that former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was worth $200 billion by the time he died but Forbes never ranked him among the world’s richest. According to Forbes Gaddafi stashed away his loot in bank accounts, real estate and corporate investments around the world. News sites reported that Gadhafi died richer than the three richest people on the planet – Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet – combined.

According to Edwin Durgy that is an incredible amount of money and would have made Gaddafi not only richer than today’s richest – it also would have made him one of the wealthiest individuals in the history of the world, and significantly wealthier than every great American that has ever lived, save the legendary industrialists Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.

For Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, it was estimated that if his stash of money were disclosed the figure of his loot would possibly be $9 billion. On August 19, 2019, Al Jezeera reported that the ousted ruler received $60 million from Saudi Arabia, including $25 million from the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be used outside of the state budget. He was reported to have received $35 million and $30 million from Saudi Arabia’s former King Abdullah, who died in 2015.

When Bashir was ousted, nearly seven million euros ($7.8 million) was found at al-Bashir’s residence, as well as smaller amounts in US dollars and Sudanese pounds. He was accused of engaging in illicit currency movements. He was charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner. He admitted to receiving the total of $90 million in cash from Saudi royals.

Former International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo estimated that if Omar al Bashir’s stash of money were disclosed (he put the figure at possibly $9 billion), it would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a “crusader” to that of a thief.

Forbes magazine has said that Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has a net worth of $600 million and is one of the world’s wealthiest heads of state in the world. In 2003, Obiang told his citizenry that he felt compelled to take full control of the national treasury in order to prevent civil servants from being tempted to engage in corrupt practices.

He has been accused of looting his oil-rich country while his citizens live on less than $1 per day. According to various online resources (Wikipedia, Forbes, Bloomberg), his son and Vice President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is estimated to have a net worth of around $210 million.

According to, with $5.8 billion, King Mohammed VI of Morocco is the wealthiest ruler on the African continent. According to Forbes King Mohammed VI has a daily operating budget of $960,000 for his palace. He has also been spotted with a rare Patek Philippe watch worth $ 1.2 billion. According to Ali Bongo Ondimba, the president of Gabon, is said to be worth $1 billion and makes $65,000 per year. The Daily Mail reports that he bought a townhouse in Paris worth $129 million in 2010.

While African rulers sit on millions of dollars, they have acquired through primitive accumulation, including dipping their long fingers in the national treasuries of their countries and turning national natural resources into personal possessions, the World Bank predicts that “poverty will soon become a predominantly African phenomenon.”

Clearly, the African rulers, in the quest to enrich themselves, have institutionalised poverty as a tool of violence against the people they govern. Therefore, they are not telling the truth when they say they are committed to conquering poverty in their countries and on the African continent.

For some, if not all, the programmes and projects they initiate to fight poverty end up enriching them further through diversions of funds from the programmes and projects to their accounts in and outside their countries.

In one short sentence, institutionalised violence in African is a a crime against humanity

  • A Tell report / By Oweyegha-Afunaduula, a former professor of environment at Makerere University, Uganda
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