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Bulldozer Leaders: Africa’s Top 4 Disciplinarian Presidents

Presidents are supposed to wield their power with as much grace and restraint as possible but sometimes, the commander-in-chief turns into ...

Presidents are supposed to wield their power with as much grace and restraint as possible but sometimes, the commander-in-chief turns into the disciplinarian-in-chief. 

We’ve made a list of the African leaders who have put the fear of God into their subordinates with forced physical exercise, sackings and – no we’re not making this up – beatings.

Working under the African presidents on our list can’t be the easiest day job in the world.

They have little patience for subordinates who won’t tow the line and they always make sure punishment is meted out swiftly.
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda 

They are disciplinarians at heart and for them, the most important thing is that their orders are followed to the letter.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda
President Paul Kagame has made no secret of his ambitions to transform Rwanda into an African success story within record time and he is making steady progress.

Economically, Rwanda keeps recording impressive GDP growth figures and its ranking on the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness index is the envy of its larger East African neighbours. Much of this is down to Kagame’s leadership and work ethic.

The latter trait is underlined by the fact that, according to a New York Times profile, “he routinely stays up to 2 or 3 a.m. to thumb through back issues of The Economist or study progress reports from red-dirt villages across his country.

He constantly searches for better, more efficient ways to stretch the billion dollars his government gets each year from donor nations that hold him up as a shining example of what aid money can do in Africa”.

“I can be very tough, I can make mistakes like that,” Kagame said.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria
Like Paul Kagame, President Muhammadu Buhari is on a mission to put his country on a sustainable path to economic growth. Similarly to Kagame, he is a former military man with a reputation of sternness and delivering results.

During his first go as Nigeria’s leader (as a military head of state) in 1984, Buhari developed quite a reputation as a strict disciplinarian.

It was during this first stint that he introduced what he called “War Against Indiscipline” in an effort to get Nigerians to adopt basic civility like queuing at bus stops. He achieved this by deploying soldiers with whips at the stations.

But the “War Against Indiscipline” also targeted those who worked under Buhari. At the time, civil servants who turned up late for work were forced to do frog jumps to atone for their tardiness. Now there is talk that Buhari’s current government wants to rejuvenate the “War Against Indiscipline” and introduce it anew.

According to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the new campaign will be branded “Change Begins With Me” and will aim at raising the level of integrity, work ethic and general civil discipline in the country.

President John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania
John Pombe Magufuli currently has, perhaps, the best approval ratings of any president in Africa. Since taking the oath of office in November last year, he has been on a one-man campaign to rid his government of corruption, incompetence, truancy and inefficiency.

He cancelled the Independence Day celebrations and led a street cleaning drive on the day instead, cut the budget for the opulent dinner meant to celebrate the opening of parliament by 90% and named 11 less minister’s than were in his predecessor’s cabinet.

Tanzanians so love Magufuli’s ‘take no prisoners’ approach they have nicknamed him “The Bulldozer”.

His exploits have also intrigued the Twitter community in East Africa which has come up with #WhatWouldMagufuliDo, a tongue-in-cheek hashtag inspired by his penny-pinching ways. Magufuli has also earned his stripes as a disciplinarian in the short time he has been in power.

At times, its almost seems like he is in a hurry to break some sort of disciplinarian-in-chief record. His preferred method of making sure people tow the line is showing them what happens when they don’t.

Since being sworn in, Magufuli has fired more than 150 senior government officials including Tanzania’s anti corruption boss and the Chief Secretary. Magufuli hasn’t spared his close associates either in his purge.

He recently fired Tanzania’s Home Affairs minister Charles Kitwanga, a close friend, for showing up drunk in parliament. Take no prisoners indeed!

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan
The South Sudanese President makes it to our list courtesy of a Facebook post by Mabior Garang de Mabior, the son of the country’s founding leader Dr. John Garang de Mabior.

The young Garang, who serves as the Minister for Water Resources, took to Facebook in early May to grouse about being forced out of a cabinet meeting by the president for – wait for it – wearing a bow tie. - Online Sources 

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