Every dictator has a justification for his decision to be a tyrant.
Authoritarian rulers have always given what appeared sound reasons as to why they should govern with an iron-fist, and any who challenged them treated as treasonous and an ‘enemy of the state’.
We can even go as far back as the very first governments on this planet, led by monarchs.
These were people who never hesitated in shouting, “Off with his head” – since, any who may question their leadership, or even those whom these kings and queens did not particularly like, were perceived as worthy of death.
They legitimized this horrendous brutality under the guise of their rulership being anointed by the gods – and as such, opposing a king or queen was akin to defying whichever deity they worshiped.
The Bible was also abused and perverted in justifying the diabolical and deplorable practice of slavery and colonialism.
The savage subjugation and segregation of mostly black people was premised on some twisted misinterpretation of scripture – whereby, those supporting this distorted narrative sought to portray dark-skinned people as cursed by God into serving whites.
In fact, colonial powers went a step further by claiming that what they were doing was some act of ‘kindness and goodness’ – designed to ‘civilize and Christianize’ supposedly ‘barbaric heathen’ Africans – whilst simultaneously, ‘developing’ their countries.
Then, as centuries turned into millennia – there came communism, staged under the pretext of ‘workers’ revolutions’.
As with the newly established USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), where leaders as Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin introduced the so-called ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’.
This was a form of tyrannical rule supposedly intended to ‘protect’ the revolution from those who hated the ‘rise of workers’ – who had now become masters of their own destiny – such as capitalists or the bourgeoisie, who enriched themselves through the exploitation of the working class.
In so doing, any one who dared question or challenge decisions by these rulers – regardless how legitimate these concerns were – was immediately labelled as a capitalist agent or puppet, who sought to reverse the ‘gains made by workers in self-determination’.
This became the basis of George Orwell’s bestseller, ‘Animal Farm’.
At the same time, the world witnessed the devil himself manifest in Adolf Hitler – who legitimized his vile fascist Nazi rule, with the subsequent horrendous holocaust against Jews – as not only a divine calling in avenging the killing of Jesus (instigated by the Jews), but also promoting patriotism and national pride for the ‘superior Aryan race’.
Of course, the people of Zimbabwe are all too familiar with the ‘agent, sellout and puppet’ tag – which has been a favorited for the post-independence ZANU PF dictatorship, in its legitimization of its own heinous oppression of those who seek to challenge their hold on power.
The same modus operandi is at work – as if copied from some ‘A guide to dictatorship’ book – whereby, Zimbabwe’s autocratic rulers use the supposed ‘threat of Western imperialism and agents of regime change’ as a pretext to brutally subjugate and crush any voices of dissent.
The nation has been intentionally instilled with a deep sense of misplaced and manufactured paranoia – always on edge, in fear of some powerful Western states, and their ‘local puppets’ – who ‘need’ to be prevented from taking over power, by any means necessary.
In this case, this perceived ‘threat’ is in the form of any opposition political party that becomes a real challenge to ZANU PF’s grip on power – previously, it was the MDC, but now is the CCC.
Any savage attack, persecution and even murder of opposition members, or any other influential voices of dissent – including those exposing the high level grand looting of our national resources by those in power – is disingenuously justified as ‘protecting the gains of independence’.
After four decades of this reviled tyrannical rule in Zimbabwe, one would have expected this same opposition – which has suffered the brunt of this barbaric persecution and repression – to be different, deplore dictatorship, and value the beautiful tenets of democracy.
Sad as it is to say, this has, nonetheless, not been the case.
The nation watches, in utter horror, as all the major opposition political parties in Zimbabwe remorselessly follow this dark path set by the ruling ZANU PF.
It is truly shocking witnessing how the CCC has decided to create a little fiefdom around their leader, Nelson Chamisa – even going as afar as naming their party after him.
Who does not know that, as much as CCC is legally touted to stand for Citizens Coalition for Change – it is actually short for ‘Chamisa Chete Chete’ – which means there can not be any other leader besides Chamisa?
This is most disturbing!
How can a party ostensibly founded on democratic values even contemplate a slogan that effectively declares a particular individual as the only one suitable to be the leader?
Furthermore, the CCC has been operating without a constitution or any visible structures – which translates into ‘one man rule’, who can do whatever he pretty much desires.
Again, that is another terrifying attribute of a party seeking to bring about democratic change.
What is the justification for all this?
Well, these undeniably dictatorial processes are laughably portrayed as a way of ‘protecting the party from ZANU PF infiltration’!
Surely, is a political entity, touting itself as valuing democratic principles, seriously telling the nation and the world that the only way to ‘protect’ itself from ZANU PF infiltration – something for which, indeed, the ruling party is notorious – is resorting to tyrannical rule?
Then, we move on to the MDC Alliance, led by Douglas Mwonzora – which has also been tainted with scandal after scandal.
After assuming power in a violent and disputed internal electoral process – from Thokozile Khupe, who herself had been made leader through a much controversial Supreme Court ruling in 2021, which effectively created this party – Mwonzora has never been subjected to proper elections to legitimize his leadership.
In spite of internal polls slated for 2022, Mwonzora decided to go the ZANU PF route of shady and opaque ‘provincial endorsements’ – meaning that he did not go through the usual ballot casting process – which, ironically, was the way he attained the presidency, to begin with.
In this regard, I am not sure if Mwonzora even came up with any reason for adopting this imposition of leadership route – which is more synonymous with ZANU PF.
Let us not forget that neither Robert Gabriel Mugabe nor Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa were ever elected as presidents of ZANU PF through the ballot box.
I am left with no other explanation than believing that this was merely out of power greed, and a fear of proper democratic contestation.
We can move on to all the other smaller opposition political parties, as LEAD, NCA, and the rest – who have never been known to hold elections for their leaders.
In which elections were the likes of Linda Masarira, Lovemore Madhuku, and others chosen as leaders of their parties – or, do they treat these organizations as their personal properties?
There is also the upcoming Robert Chapman.
As much as he is still a ‘new kid on the block’, it raises bright red flags in my head when the leader is more known and visible than the party itself.
In fact, as I am writing this paragraph, I am struggling to remember his party’s name, and have resolved not to Google it.
Having exhausted this worrying trait and propensity for dictatorships by our political parties in Zimbabwe – is there any wonder I am not a member, supporter or sympathizer of any of them?
I am not one to hero-worship another human being – as the only God I know and worship is Jehovah, through His son Jesus Christ.
I am of the strong conviction that leaders should be held totally accountable to those they lead, without fear or favour – and, I find any semblance of cultism or personality politics not only retrogressive, but also a dangerous form of idolatry.
If Zimbabweans are to genuinely expect a break with our dark harrowing tyrannical past – then, we are in desperate need of a truly democratic political party, that sincerely values these principles.
Tragically, I am yet to see that party in Zimbabwe!
All we witness are groupings created around particular individuals – and not on ideology, doctrine or policies.
That is a very dangerous thing for the country.
Indeed, as we have already established, it is quite easy justifying dictatorship and tyrannical rule.
Power is sweet, and most tempting.
That is why they say, ‘power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
What is desperately required right now is a new breed of leaders – who understand the value of democracy, and can resist the ever-present temptation of power.
If this does not happen, then Zimbabweans will always be in the clutches of one dictator after another!
● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org