The Changing Face of Tyranny in Africa

The face of tyranny is evolving on the African continent. Sure enough, we might have fewer; Mobutu’s, Bokasa’s, Babaginda’s, Moi’s, Gadhafi’s and other men synonymous with despotism at the helm of African Seats of power, but that does not mean that despotism is long dead and buried in Africa. Indeed, reducing tyranny and despotism to the single face that seats on the seat that perpetuates it could be the greatest folly to befall the war against it.

Despotism and tyranny are insidious, it did not and cannot die with the attrition: natural or otherwise of Bokasa, Mobutu Gadhafi, and their peers. Africa’s tyranny is not a snake that you can kill by hitting the head no more; it is a hydra with many heads. In fact, tyranny in Africa may no longer have a face, but its insidious effects are here, are lingering longer for all to see. The rule book on tyrants and tyranny might as well have to change.

Tyranny in Africa has decentralized from the single all-powerful tyrant to many tyrants working in synergy but oppressing the people all the same. Indeed, if tyranny were a religion, I’d say it is a polytheistic one. The good dictionary of Oxford describes tyranny as, ‘cruel and oppressive government or rule.’ It matters not that, whether the tyrant is a chief or a King like Mswati, princely and suave like Gadhafi, or an outright cannibal like Bokasa’, in fact it matters not, whether the tyrant is a man, woman, group of men, group of armed military men, or group of men in suits sitting in an air conditioned house ordinarily called ‘parliament’.

Almost every African country has an institution or organization perpetuating tyranny. We have institutions that have such a stranglehold on state power to the extent that getting them out of the picture would require nothing short of a revolution. A revolution of minds or sorts is needed if we are going to liberate this continent from the last remaining clutches of despotism. Here are some of the institutions and organizations perpetuating the autocracy in modern day Africa.

From afar Tanzania looks like a free society, but wait a minute that is nothing but a façade and the culprit is non-other than Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Revolutionary Party). CCM, as the party is known is the ruling party that came into being in 1977 when the Tanzanian National Union Party of mainland Tanzania and the Afro-Shiraz Party from Zanzibar merged. CCM presides over a debilitating oligopoly in Tanzania. Although CCM has substantially veered from the hallowed path of African-socialism which formed the core of its ideological underpinnings to a neo-liberal approach, cronyism has ensured that only a select few politically connected individuals enjoy the fruits of economic liberalism. The select few pounced on state assets and corporations in the country’s privatization drive. CCM cannot be mentioned without giving reasonable notice of the stranglehold the ruling party has on political subjectivity in Tanzania.

The party lords over the hearts and minds of large swathes of the Tanzania population. Traveling to Tanzania, a visitor is astounded at the sheer number of little green CCM flags, puncturing townships and landscapes without warning. The party has reduced Tanzanians into political minions incapable of sound political decisions. The greatest damage the CCM has had on Tanzania on enfeebling the people’s political culture. Tanzania must kick the shackles of CCM to be truly free.

Enter PDP, (The People’s Democratic Party) of Nigeria, a party, and institution that sits squarely as a buffer between its people and the bridge to progress. Founded in 1998 the PDP is already a dinosaur in Nigerian politics. It is neither revolutionary nor evolutionary; it has been lording over a huge empire of political senescence in Nigeria. The party has organized sustainable self-succession in the recent past. By and large, the PDP is not a people’s party nor is it democratic; it has presided over the biggest resource hemorrhage, corruption and misgovernance ever known to man. It sits over the peoples debilitating poverty often doing more to exacerbate it rather than reduce it. The PDP would be a modern day tyrant if it were a religion it would be polytheistic because many politicians are benefitting and accruing rent from the Nigerian state.