While there has been extensive evidence provided on the varying effects of leaders’ extended tenures on economic growth, political institutions and conflict, little attention in the empirical literature has been given to the determinants that may contribute to long tenures. Without being cognisant of these underlying factors, any efforts aimed at limiting tenures to progress economic development and democratic institutions will have little effect, as evidenced by several leaders’ attempts to subvert constitutional laws in this regard. Using panel data analysis for sub-Saharan African countries between 1960 and 2015, this study looks at the likely determinants (both at individual and country level) that can increase or decrease political survival. The preliminary results suggest that at an individual level, the leader’s age, political career and rebel experience increase the likelihood of extended tenure, while the leader’s education reduces the probability of extended tenure. At a country level, the country’s wealth is likely to increase tenures, while increased conflict and strong institutions decrease a leader’s tenure.