Published in The Standard 20 February 2011
The events of the last few weeks across North Africa in particular have made many revelations to the oppressed of this world. As is often the case dictators never learn. They dig in when they are supposed to dig out and call it quits. The major reason for their long stay is complex in that they have supporters whose only hope is the dictators themselves. The supporters in most cases believe their own lie. Most of them convince themselves that the dictator is doing the good thing. It is no wonder the support is so zealous because the dictator is their lifeline.
The ouster of the Tunisian strong man, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the subsequent humiliating fall of Hosni Mubarak, dubbed the last Pharaoh of Egypt, demonstrate that people power has come to stay. In the olden days Harold Macmillan talked of the ‘winds of change’ cutting across Africa which heralded the ushering in of independence across the continent. Today ‘People Power’ will change the face of politics not only across the Arabic world but among the oppressed of the world.
Dictators are smart in that they create a patronage system that oils itself. Guys who do not deserve positions are put there to be used for the dirty jobs of the dictators. In return there are heavy rewards and status quo is guaranteed. Just try to analyse any dictator and you will find that the above is true. The patronage system works in that those who benefit will fight to remain in the gravy train. They in turn see the oppressed as spoilers and even wish them eliminated.
Dictators claim to be true liberators of the people. Initially the so called liberated people actually believe the dictator. It is only when the dictator’s true colours begin to show that the masses are confused. They are told that what is being done to them is in their interest even when their livelihoods are being destroyed. The dictator will kill his people in the name of suppressing revolt and bringing peace in the nation.
Dictators forge alliances in which their former opponents are swallowed and then forced to celebrate unity. It is only after a while that those forced into alliances begin to see the light. But a lot of ground may well have been lost. A few from the other side are heavily rewarded and turn against their own for the sake of continued supping with the dictator.
Dictators surround themselves with the most elaborate security system. They know they are enemies of the people, hence they go all the way to protect themselves as if they will never die. Because of the false security they have, they can say anything to those oppressed and to the world at large which does not support the dictator. They often use the language ‘never, never, never’ and actually believe it.
Dictators rule for too long. Ten years should be enough but they will make all sorts of adjustments and create loopholes to permit themselves to stay in power. Ruling for 30 years as Mubarak did borders on criminality. The smart ones will always use so called legal channels and means to stay put. Even when they are beaten at polls they refuse to hand over power. They take all the leadership roles. One would be the president and first secretary of the party and so on. This is done to ensure longevity in power. This plus elaborate suppression units of their almost illiterate security system gives confidence to the oppressor. Hence no dictator has an exit plan, at least that which people know of.
Dictators do not give a chance to those perceived as enemies to air their views. The airwaves and the mainline media is monopolised by the dictator’s machinery. What the dictator does not realise is that soon the oppressed will know the truth. I have often heard the so-called unschooled analysing the news they hear across the world in such comments as “these are blue lies.” When asked how they knew, the answer was quite simple, “we know the truth.” The spin doctors want us to believe that what happened to other dictators would never happen to their dear leader. “Our situation is different,” they say confidently.
Lastly dictators know each other across the world. Actually they have a propensity for identifying each other. They invite each other to their respective countries and are show-cased on national televisions in jovial moods like all is well. You can tell that your leader is a dictator by the number of other dictators he/she invites to your country or the visits made to fellow dictators. What baffles me is that even if they see their dictator friends finally falling those remaining never learn. They go on like all is well yet the writing is clear on the wall. Of course they will be busy scheming as to what more oppressive strategies they will come up with so that they remain in power. Such is the futility of their imagination. The end game is nigh.
The Shona have a saying that goes like; Kana kangoma koririsa kave kuda kuparuka, which when loosely translated means; Pride comes before fall.
Let those who have ears hear. God bless.
Rev. Dr. Levee Kadenge