‘This is a dictatorship in everything, except in name’

There’s no doubt, this regime of Edgar Lungu is a dictatorship.

And Edgar is a brutal dictator who should be seen as such and called that.

Edgar does and has done everything dictators do – manipulate the electoral process, suppress freedom of speech, of the media, association, assembly and change the Constitution to perpetuate his rule.

Edgar has incarcerated political opponents on trumped up charges, including treason ones. He has seized properties of political opponents without lawful court orders or on corruptly obtained court orders and in total violation of the Bill of Rights.

Edgar has shrunk the political space for meaningful opposition and civil society political discourse and mobilisation work. Only his voice and those of his proponents should be heard.

If this is not dictatorship, what is it?

Emeritus Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu of Lusaka Archdiocese is very right when he says people should not be dithering around but call the current regime what it is – a dictatorship in everything, except in name.

He says Zambia has descended into a dictatorship because institutions of government had been corrupted by the Executive and not doing their work.

“This is not a democracy at all! This is a dictatorship in everything, except [in] name. That is it! There are no two ways about it. People should not be going around beating about the bush; this is the situation,” says Archbishop Mpundu. “All administrations have to be judged by their actions. This country is in a crisis – crisis of leadership, crisis of the economy. Putting people at loggerheads – tribalism and so on and so forth. Is this a government they want to continue? Let them ask themselves sincerely. Corruption, mamama! So, [they should ask themselves if] this is the government they want to continue with or they need a big break.”

The word “dictator” comes from the Latin language word dictator, agent. In Latin use, a dictator was a judge in the Roman Republic temporarily invested with absolute power.

A dictatorship is a form of government characterised by a single leader or group of leaders and little or no toleration for political pluralism or independent programmes or media.

Typically, in a dictatorial regime, the leader of the country is identified with the title of dictator, although their formal title may more closely resemble something similar to “leader”. A common aspect that characterised dictatorship is taking advantage of their strong personality, usually by suppressing freedom of thought and speech of the masses, in order to maintain complete political and social supremacy and stability. Dictatorships and totalitarian societies generally employ political propaganda to decrease the influence of proponents of alternative governing systems.

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