We posit the problem of an autocrat who has to allocate access to the executive positions in his inner circle and de ne the career pro le of his insiders. The leader monitors the capacity of staging a coup by his subordinates and the incentives of trading a subordinates own position for a potential shot at the leadership. These theoretical elements map into structurally estimable hazard functions of ministers terminations in Africa. The evidence points at leaders survival concerns playing an important role in shaping incentives within African national governments and can help explain insiderswidespread lack of competence and nearsighted policymaking. CIFAR and University of British Columbia, Department of Economics, firstname.lastname@example.org, George Mason University, Department of Economics, email@example.com; and CIFAR and University of British Columbia, Department of Economics, and NBER, firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively. The authors would like to thank David Green, Hiro Kasahara, Thomas Lemieux, and seminar participants at BCEP 2013 and Bocconi, LSE, Lugano, Maryland, UBC, and University of Warwick for useful comments and discussion. Jonathan Graves, Hugo Jales, Navid Siami, and especially Chad Kendall provided excellent research assistance. We are grateful to the National Bureau of Economic Research Africa Success Project, to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and to the Initiative on Global Markets at Chicago Booth for nancial support.