Signs of a dictatorship regime loom

2016-10-26 06:00

IT is possible that South Africa will one day be under a powerful dictator, who may rise in a democratic setup and eventually silence all that which represents freedom.

Our country is currently at its peak in so far as it’s capacity to exercise fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, association, etc. But I think there are strong reasons to believe it may not be too long, and we may wake up to the new dawn of a tyrannical ruler or government that will not tolerate voices of descent or opposition.

A country that succeeds to undermine institutions of learning and training is destined for self-destruction and we are very advanced in moving towards that direction if the pace of violent protest continues at this rate.

A country that destroys its institutions of learning and training is fertile ground for a thriving dictatorship under which critical thinking will not exist and creativity will be confined to glorifying the status quo and never to question or ridicule political authority or speak truth to power in the interest of keeping the political elite in check.

In South Africa we have had all the ingredients of a dynamic democracy and it has been a privilege to watch the independent media, political parties, academics, researchers, writers, comedians and artists generating knowledge, editorial content and entertainment material on pertinent themes such as corruption, service delivery or lack thereof, and other issues of national interest.

We could not get better than this. We have had our country’s state presidents changing without a single gunshot being fired, something our beloved African continent is not reputed for.

But I am inclined to think that our privileges are reaching their limits. There will come a time when a black dictator will rule this country with an iron fist and ruthlessness will be the order of the day.

Our levels of aggression and violent conduct are rather too high. In my opinion, this is a sure recipe for the subsequent emergence of a political authority who will only have force as a means to restore order.

It will be difficult for the youth to unlearn violent conduct when they have political authority that tells them to burn down symbols of enlightenment, modernity and democracy, like institutions of higher learning and training.

The youth of today that is burning such institutions are potential future members of private militias who will serve a particular regressive and oppressive agenda, much in line with playwright, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar’s message that a cunning leader will always use the mob for his destructive purposes.

South Africa is exhibiting a great potential to produce a cunning leader, who will or can, use the majority of its people for selfish ends that are not for the general good.

It has been a huge privilege to be a part of a history of an African country, which has seen a major political party, like the African National Congress, conducting itself in a democratic and liberal manner. There was no civil war when ANC presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki left government.

The ANC lost a few cities and towns mainly to the Democratic Alliance during the 2016 local government election and our current leaders showed much maturity and capacity to coexist with their political opponents. We have lived the dream of true democracy under the ANC government till this very day. How many leaders in Africa can accept defeat in any election without killing or attacking political opponents?

But I do not think that our country will sustain political stability and maturity because the youth have begun to be impatient with political authority. This can be expected to manifest in other areas of contention, including unemployment and the inevitable opportunism and chaos that go hand in hand with a dictatorship from which South Africa is not immune.

When we are tired of using the courts to fight political battles we will eventually resort to arms. As we progress to increased violent confrontation there will be no turning back. Then we will move swiftly towards destroying our hard earned democracy and eventually render our world class constitution irrelevant.

Steadily but surely, greed, selfishness and our huge capacity to undermine modernity and multi-party democracy, will eventually pave the way for a strong dictatorship and then we will be finally doomed as a nation.

• Simphiwe Mkhize writes in his personal capacity.

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