Friday, 16 September 2016

It is the people, by being naive and gullible, who are keeping dictators in power. By Wilbert Mukori

In his article on “How dictators stay in power” see The Zimbabwean newspaper, UZ Student Zivai Mhetu attributed the dictators’ staying-power to how they create fictitious enemies to divert attention away from their own misrule. 

“Their most common tactic is that of conjuring up ‘enemies of the people’ or fictitious threats in a bid to rally their people against an imaginary foe while distracting them from the real enemy – the dictator himself. For Hitler it was the Jews, for Idi Amin, the Asians; for other African dictators, the west,” wrote Zivai.

 Zivai went on to give many examples of how dictators have played this dirty trick to achieve their objective; I encourage you to read the article for yourself, it is well worth reading; I will just quote the last example he gave.

“In the social sciences, legitimation refers to the process whereby an act, process, ideology, or in this case, the dictator becomes legitimate by his/her attachment to norms and values widely shared within the country,” wrote Zivai. “A strong anti-gay stance in a nation that is predominantly Christian and frowns upon that sort of thing can move mountains for a dictator in as far as the legitimation process is concerned. The same applies for inclination towards socialist policies in a country where the majority are workers and not owners of capital.”

Mugabe’s anti-gay stance did indeed move political opinion mountains for him in 1995; I remember it as clearly as if it was yesterday. That year The Zimbabwe Book Fair organizers had assembled such luminaries as playwright and poet Wole Soyinka and author Nadine Gordimer both winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature is 1986 and 1991 respective to speak about freedom of expression. Given Zanu PF’s total domination of the public media and draconian laws to muzzle the little private media there was left in the country; freedom of expression was therefore a burning issue to every freedom loving Zimbabweans, at least one would have thought.

The Book Fair organizers had allowed Zimbabwe’s Gay and Lesbian group, who were campaigning for the scraping of the law homosexual a criminal offence, to have a stand at the book fair. The Zanu PF control public media pick on that and went to town and so did Mugabe.

Mugabe and his propagandists distorted the facts turning the homosexual debate into such an emotive issue, the important debate on freedom of expression was elbowed off the national agenda and the golden opportunity to address this key national issue was lost! Indeed Mugabe has often evoked this theme again and again precisely because it is an emotive issue and has milked it for all its worth!

Today, 36 years after our independence, Zimbabwe is in a serious political and economic mess whose Genesis can be traced back to the country’s failure to create a free, just and democratic society in 1980. The only way out of the mess is for the country to implement democratic reforms designed to dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship. One of these key reforms is media reform to ensure the country has freedom of expression and free media – the very things Wole Soyinka and Nadine Gordimer told about in the Oasis Hotel back in 1995, if only we had listened!


Zivai started his article by speculating on where dictators get their inspirations on what tricks to play to stay in power.

“Dictators who have emerged all over the world in modern times use such similar tactics to stay in power that one can be forgiven for thinking they have a secret ‘dictator’s book’ with instructions on how to establish and consolidate despotic rule,” he speculated. “Either such a book exists – the Prince by Machiavelli maybe – or the autocratic behaviour of dictators constitutes a case of isomorphic mimicry of the earliest people in the ‘trade.’”

There is a more simple and obvious explanation here for which the dictator does not need a book or master art of mimicry – child psychology.  If you want to take away the toy from a child you play with the empty box with such attention that the child quickly loses interest in the toy and want to play with the box. It works every time because the child has no sense of the true value of the toy compared to the empty box!

Mugabe has systematically and routinely denied us our freedoms and basic human rights and dignities as easily as one taking away toys from a child. Dictators’ machinations and shenanigans work on a very naïve and gullible public – people who, instead of seeing all the colours of the rainbow, see everything only in monochrome, black or white, right or wrong and, with the application of more ruthless brainwashing technics, will even believe poor is the new rich and to bleat “four legs good, two legs better!”

Of course the Zimbabweans are not helpless children and therefore should know better but clearly the do not as Mugabe has blatantly conned them again and again for the last 36 years; the facts on the ground speak for themselves. 

So Zivai Mhetu, it is not so much how the dictator is staying in power but rather how the people themselves, by being so naïve and gullible, are the ones keeping the tyrant in power. The argument to see the people themselves not just as powerless and helpless victims of the dictatorship but rather as the authors of their own tragic tale gains more credence when one considers the number of opportunities the people had to end the dictatorship and yet wasted them all.

The best chance Zimbabwe had in the last 36 years to end the Mugabe dictatorship was, without doubt, during the 2008 to 2013 GNU. All the nation needed to do then was to implement the democratic reforms spelt out in the 2008 GPA. Not even one was implemented!

Yes Mugabe played his usual devil’s role in that he is the one who bribed Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC friends to kick the reforms into the tall grass. Still it cannot be denied that it was us, the people, who once made it so damn easy for Mugabe carryout his evil plans; we are the ones who elected the corrupt and incompetent MDC leaders into power in the first place and, to make matters worse, failed to supervise the village idiots to ensure all the reforms were implemented.

Zimbabwe’s worsening economic situation has brought a lot of human misery and even deaths many people are now living in abject poverty and where poverty dwells, sickness and death are there also. The only positive thing to emerge out of the economic meltdown is that it has forced Mugabe and Zanu PF to accept that there will have to be political change or the economic situation will get worse and worse until there is change. The most important question now is what kind of political change are we going to see?

If the people continue to be naïve and gullible and elect corrupt and incompetent opposition leaders then it is certain that no meaningful reforms will be implemented. Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, Mai Mujuru and many of the current crop of opposition leaders have already proven beyond all reasonable doubt that they are corrupt and incompetent it is sheer folly to believe that anyone of them will deliver the democratic changes the nation is dying for.

As things stand, the best solution for Zimbabwe right now is to have an interim government or National Transition Authority, as some people are proposing, whose principal duty is to implement all the democratic reforms and thus completely dismantle the Zanu PF dictatorship and replace the system with a democratic complete with free media and freedom of expression and democratic competition.

If we want quality leaders then we must first create a system that allows cream to rise to the top. The de facto one-party dictatorship we have in the country allows scum to rise to the top and it is therefore not surprising that we have corrupt and incompetent politicians on both sides of the political divide.

It is most disconcerting to hear people who have only recently started denouncing Mugabe as a murderous tyrant and even join in the street protest boasting of “Tajamuka” (We are enlightened!). And yet the same people continue to follow the same recycled corrupt and incompetent leaders like Tsvangirai or Mujuru. They are clearly refusing to see Tsvangirai or Mai Mujuru for the corrupt and incompetent leaders they are because of the binary mentality, having finally decided Mugabe was bad anyone challenging Mugabe must therefore be good! Being enlightened meanings one is no longer naïve and gullible and cured of the simplicity binary mentality.
Conclusion: it is the naïve and gullible electorate with their childlike binary mentality who are keeping dictators in power. It therefore follows that in the fight to end dictatorial rule and/or to guard against it rearing its ugly head make sure the people are not naïve and gullible.


  1. For the last 36 years we have ignored the importance of having quality leaders and have paid dearly for it. One gets the impression that most Zimbabweans are not concerned about who replaces President Mugabe all they want is for him to go. We did the same thing with Ian Smith of course. To elect someone like Tsvangirai or Mujuru when we already know their track record as corrupt and incompetent leaders is simply unforgivable.

    The economic meltdown is forcing Zanu PF to accept political change, we must get the right political change to allow quality leaders to emerge. We must not allow the nation to be stampeded by the likes of Tsvangirai or Mujuru into another rigged elections who result in yet another mediocre regime!

    I agree with you 100% if you are so politically naïve and gullible to accept someone as corrupt and incompetent as Tsvangirai or Mujuru as leader then you have learnt nothing. You can say "Tajamuka!" all you want the truth is you are still fast asleep!

  2. @ Stobart

    This is pure nonsense and it is this kind of mentality that has got us into this mess.

    Are you saying as a citizen we cannot hold those aspiring to rule the country to account.

    President Robert Mugabe at one point did risk life and limb to challenge the colonial regime so why are you criticizing him if those who have risked life and limb are not to be held to account?

    You say you want democracy and you are a democrat but the minute anyone tries to hold you or your leaders to account you do not like it. Well tough luck! Let us get this one very clear, anyone hold public office or aspiring to hold public office will be weighed to see if they are competent to hold public office and they will be questioned and held to account for all they have done or failed to do. That is not negotiable!

    1. Our friend is one of those brainwashed individuals who can only see two colours black or white, right and wrong, etc. After the problems of slavery and colonial oppression he pigeon-hole the whites as bad and the blacks as bad and has strangled to declassify the two races even when a black leaders becomes a corrupt and murderous tyrant, especial when the tyrant has kept up his anti-white rhetoric.

      As Zivai has already explained, Mugabe lost his legitimacy to govern because he rigged the elections; he has successful regain his legitimacy by stirring up the anti-white rhetoric and presenting himself as the champion of the anti-West brigade.

      Mugabe has now successful retained his trophy as the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world in anti-West rhetoric. How would have thought it possible the so many Zimbabweans just like our friend Afrika here would still defend the tyrant even with the mountain of evidence of his tyrannical tendencies. Many of the hardcore war veterans have only now started criticizing Mugabe now, because it has taken 36 years to open their "puppy eyes", according to Mai Mujuru.

      We should have demanded and exercised our right to hold Zanu PF leaders to account from the word go. Failing to do so have been at the very heart of how we have let ourselves down. We must hold all leaders to account from now on!

      If Tsvangirai, Mai Mujuru or Mugabe himselves does not want to be held to account then they should have never held any public office!

    2. @ Stobart

      We have fought for our independence and freedom by taking up guns clearly that has not worked as it allowed these corrupt and murderous thugs to get into power and for the last 36 years we have tried and failed to flash them out office.

      The recent street protest will not result in not even one democratic reform being implemented. These NERA people are not interested in freedom and justice no more than Zanu PF was before independence; all they want is to get back into power.

      The current wave of street protest are going to result in the repeat of the wanton violence of 2008 Tsvangirai and Mujuru do not care how many people will be beaten, raped and even killed as long as they get back into power.

      Just as many people thought fighting in the war of independence was the panacea to all the nation's problems many people to day think joining in the street protest is the panacea. How naïve, unless we, the people, take time to build strong democratic institutions ourselves the politicians will never do it because as soon as they are in power all they want to do is secure they stay in power and enjoy the fruits of being in power!

      Before you join in the street protest ask yourself how are we going to stop whoever gets into power next time from becoming corrupt and oppressive just as Zanu PF have been after inde-pendence? In other words, ask yourself what lessons do we need to learn from the nightmare of the last 36 years? Those who never learn from their past mistakes are doomed to repeat the mistakes over and over until they learn that is a fundamental law of nature founded in the Darwinian law of survival of the fittest!


  3. Free, fair and credible elections is the Holy Grail of what it means to be free and independence. We are in this hell-hole today because for the last 36 years we have failed to grant our people the one thing that would have seal and guaranteed our freedom, human rights and hopes and dreams.

    The economic meltdown has created a new opportunity for Zimbabwe to reset its political system; to dismantle the failed dictatorship and replace it with a democratic system in which the freedoms and basic rights of all our people including the right to free, fair and credible elections and the right to life are secured and guaranteed! This is something we can deliver and, this time, we must deliver without failure!

  4. @ Afrika

    And the same white Americans elected a blackman to be their President! Who elected President Mugabe? NIKUV! Certainly not black Zimbabweans, we have never had free, fair and credible elections in the country!

    We are fighting for our people's right to free, fair and credible elections so even if the whites are all you say they are; is that a reason why Mugabe should continue to rig elections? Your stupidity is the real stuff of legends!

  5. @ Stobart

    Some of us fought in the war of independence and I therefore dismiss the "lily livered" re-mark with the total contempt it rightly deserves. After risking life and limb in the fight for independence it was heart breaking to see the country go to the dogs as corrupt and murder-ous thugs seized power and ran amok. What you are advocating is that anyone who is not happy with the situation must risk life and limb fighting the system and they will too be free to run amok! Only a simpleton like you would not see that this is a vicious circle that will not solve anything.

    The right to hold leaders to account is a fundamental right that must be enjoyed by all regard-less of whether they risked life and limb fighting a dictatorship or colonial oppression.

    Tsvangirai and Mai Mujuru have already proven that they are corrupt and incompetent and I am sick to the back teeth of all these morons who are coming up with all manner of feeble excuses why such village idiots should be allowed to map the destiny of this great nation!

  6. @ Stobart

    MDC were in power during the GNU and it is their failure to implement the reforms then that has landed us into this mess. Are you saying we should not hold them to account for that just because they are no longer in power?

    MDC-T have MPs and senators who should be playing a influencial role right now in getting the democratic reforms implemented so the nation has free and fair elections in 2018. They are doing f&*k all as we can see. Are you saying we should not hold them to account?

    Tsvangirai and Mujuru are out there right now canvassing for votes in the next elections, it is imperative that the people know these two are corrupt and incompetent and therefore they must never again be trusted with the destiny of this great nation. People must be warned of this now and not wait until the two village idiots are in power, it will be too late!