Wanna know more about dictatorships in the Great Lakes Region? Join us during the ‘Night of the Dictatorship‘. This article, written by Ugandan blogger and activist Moses, gives you some insight of the situation in the Great Lakes Region and life under dictatorship.
A dictator is a political leader who wields absolute power and equally a state ruled by a dictator is called a dictatorship. The usage of the term “dictator” is generally used to describe a leader who holds and abuses an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without effective checks by legislative assembly.
In contrast to the traditional dictator, the modern day dictator has definitely transformed and modernized from a rule by decree dictatorship to a constitution-manipulating dictator to conform to the demands of free space demanded by their strategic development partners or allies if you may want to say so.
They bare this sense of conviction in superiority to lead; they believe they are invincible, invulnerable, immune and divine. The narcissist dictator holds human edicts, rules and regulations in disdain and human penalties in disdain. He regards human needs and emotions as weaknesses to be exploited.
They cling to power through a tool of fear mongering, killings and brutal use of violence to instill fear on the population, to prevent any uprising or revolution against his rule. The fear-factor and scaremongering techniques are habitually applied to tame and silence anti-regime activists.
One of the features inseparable from a dictator from within the context of the great lakes region in Africa, is most certainly that they have a military background therefore assuming power through undemocratic means and while in office, they will employ the similar principle of command and control used in the military to consolidate power.
One such dictator is President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda; he came to power in 1986 following a destructive war in which many lives were lost. His history of war goes back to the early 70’s when he led an ill prepared ill-fated expedition against another infamous dictator general Idi Amin that was to result in the loss of many young lives.
Since then, he has ruled with iron fist for 32 years, in which he continued to order more young men who had to pay with their lives in wars in Rwanda, Congo, Sudan, Central Africa Republic and Somalia as well as within their own country. The police and troops, some led by his son, have put down protests with maximum prejudice.
After leading a rebel insurgency that took over Uganda in 1986, Museveni declared: “No African head of state should be in power for more than 10 years.” However, 32 years later, he is still here, winning one after another in a spree of “coconut election” in which other political parties are technically legal for the purposes of escorting him to the state house and the main challenger who won him pants down is detained for 68 days in his own residence to deny him legal redress.
He uses the state to monopolize violence and cruelty. During war in the north parts of Uganda the people of the region were inhumanely herded into camps of displaced people. The camps were some sort of concentration camps at the height of the forced confinement in the most horrible conditions. More than 1000 people were dying every week. Watch this and/or this video to get an idea of the situations in the camp.
The system he leads thrives and survives on corruption and nepotism and all manner of bad governance, at the apex of it sits a new leadership style model around the military the structure, which is constructed along the lines that every order comes from above to the bottom, hence the saying in Uganda “order from above”. The dictator is mostly ruthless to his former comrades because they detest betrayal from within its ranks. He uses the tool of depriving to impoverish the citizenry into poverty and disempower them economically, socially and politically so that they do not have the means to oppose him. Meanwhile he lavishly spend money like there is no tomorrow. In Uganda the dictator spends $ 300.000 dollars for his daily errands, he moves with a fleet of 40 armored powerful vehicles when he travels in land.
He periodically holds some cosmetic elections to legitimize his rule, these elections are often been nakedly a fraudulent processes marred with illegalities and incapable of being free or fair.
The elections are “already rigged” because of the fraudulent processes denying many Ugandans citizens without any reason, through unacceptable practices of bribing some sections of the electorate, and the wanton misuse and abuse of state resources and institutions to ensure a Museveni victory, not to mention the absolute determination the police and the security services employ to escort him and his ruling party to statehouse.
Museveni is not alone in coveting life presidency in the Great Lakes region. Inspired by him, Nkurunziza of Burundi recently pushed his country to the brink of war in order to get himself a third term after serving the constitutionally mandated two terms. In Rwanda, Paul Kagame who did a “Medvedev” in reverse having been the man behind the throne before he became president is well on his way to doing away with the two term limit in the Rwandese constitution in order to perpetuate his own rule! President Joseph Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo has been grappling with amending the constitution to allow him contest for the record 3rd time.
A liberator who saved the Tutsis from complete extermination in 1994, Kagame now practices the same ethnic apartheid he sought to end. His Rwandan Patriotic Front dominates all levels of power: the security forces, the civil service, the judiciary, banks, universities, and state-owned corporations. Those who challenge the president are accused of being a ‘hatemonger’ or ‘divisionist’ and eventually arrested. Recently, to embarrass him, the opposition in Rwanda decided to endorse him as their candidate and the drama did not stop there. His intelligence services had the nude photos of a female challenger leaked to the press; He is cruising to 18 years power.
All the Great Lakes dictators think similarly in one dimension egotistical believe that a country could not do without them. In the Great lakes region Museveni leads the pack with 32 years in power, Kagame second with 24 years, Kabila third with 17 years and still counting. The level they personalize the state and all of its institutions and resources to keep themselves perpetually in power, even if it threatens the economy or to risk bringing his country to the brink of war even if it go down the drain in the process just so that he can rule for the rest of his natural life. Unfortunately, these are the undemocratic caliber of the leaders we have in the Great Lakes Region and the world powers seem to be equally stuck with them.
When a Dictatorship makes a decision; be it efficient, effective, straightforward, or divine revelation, it has no mechanism to balance the consequences of the result. What happen is, even if the dictator makes one or two sound decisions, it will leave the possibilities for all the false decisions to come to have no room for accountability.
Wanna know more about dictatorships in the Great Lakes Region? Join us during the ‘Night of the Dictatorship‘.
Article was written by, Moses Atocon.
A Ugandan Digital Political Media Activist and a Blogger, using internet technologies to organize campaigns.