On the surface, this explanation appears to mirror what we see. Mugabe started as a rebel fighting for democratic ideals only to become one of the continent’s worst dictators. Perhaps there is something uniquely “bad” about Africa’s leaders – something that makes even the most revered freedom fighters corrupt and greedy once in office.
This explanation, however, ignores two structural features that are driving this bad behavior in many of Africa’s countries: rich resources and weak political institutions. Countries like Uganda and the DRC hold substantial resources that tempt leaders to line their pockets and use the money to easily buy off opponents. These countries also have few institutional restraints on their executives, making it easy for leaders to behave as they will. Most revolutionaries, when put in this structural situation, would likely behave the same way.