News that judges in France are seeking the indictment of the son of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea for money laundering is good news. Currently two judges, Roger Le Loire and Rene Grouman in France are investigating some African rulers who acquire properties in France using ill-gotten money. Among those under the radar is Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of the president who is also a minister in his father’s cabinet.
He faces charges connected to money laundering and others. He also faces the same in the US where, according to BBC, the government seeks to recover over $ 70,000,000 from him. Obiang is renowned for owning an expensive mansion in Malibu California. Last year, he ordered a $ 380,000,000 yatch.
According to Aol News, Mangue’s yatch will be the world second most expensive behind one owned by Russian Oligarch, Roman Abramovich. As per Global Witness, the anti-corruption group, the Yatch is supposed to be 387 feet long, housing a movie theater, restaurant, bar, swimming pool and a $1.3 million security system with floor motion sensors and fingerprint door openers. Theodorin owns private jet and other properties in US and France and he awarded $ 1,000,000 to Equatorial Guinea’s team after winning the opening game of the Africa Cup of Nations which Equatorial Guinea co-hosted with Gabon earlier this year.
One wonders how the son of a President can afford to live such a lavish lifestyle while according to the CIA World Factbook, about 80% of Equatorial Guinea’s population of 720,000 lives below the poverty line. Diseases are rampant and most citizens have no access to clean water.
Another, prince on the radar is Christel Denis Sassou Ngweso the son of the president of Congo. Denis-Christel is Deputy Director-General of the National Petroleum Company of the Congo (Société nationale des pétroles du Congo, SNPC). Christel is also the member of the politiburo of his father’s ruling party.
He is renowned for spending a hundreds of thousands of dollars on shopping sprees in Paris, Dubai and Marbella. For example, in 2007 Christel attracted the attention of the media when he spent $35,000 on purchases from designers such as Louis Vuitton and Roberto Cavalli.
While Christel shares the status of other princes such as Ali Omar Bongo, Faule Eyadema and Joseph Kabila (who inherited presidency after the demise of their fathers); the difference is, Christel and Theodorin abuse public funds openly and are not in power yet.
There is yet another princess, Bona Robert Mugabe aka Tracy Guvamombe. Bona is not always in the news and does not run any show in her father’s government. Like her mother, she is renowned for spending sprees while taxpayers in Zimbabwe die from poverty.
There is another unknown prince in Tanzania, Ridhiwan Kikwete. This son of President Jakaya Kikwete has been implicated in many scams involving bogus projects in Tanzania. Sometimes back, Ridhiwan threatened one opposition leader Dr. Wilbrod Slaa who alleged Ridhiwan is super rich thanks to the wheeldeals he has involved himself in after his father came to power in 2005. Ridhiwan has never gone near the court save to let the story die a natural death.
Another prince is Karim Abdulaye Wade of Senegal whose father lost presidency to his former Premier. Karim is a minister in his father’s government.
In a nutshell, Africa has a lot of princes and princesses who spend taxpayers’ money so extravagantly that donor countries are now investigating them as we have seen in the case above. Will this be a continuous exercise? Is it meant to settle scores? Is it meant to coerce regimes to offer more deals?
If this move is aimed at helping poor people, it should, so too, target another group – the First Ladies. They too are misusing state resources. Remember the story of Agathocles in Machiavelli’s The Prince? “Cesare Borgia, called by the people Duke Valentino, acquired his state during the ascendancy of his father, and on its decline he lost it,” Machiavelli, Chpt. VII.
Will the long arm of justice yield anything? Time will tell.
By Nkwazi Mhango
The author is a Canada based Tanzanian and author of Saa Ya Ukombozi.
THE AFRICAN EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE