“The country’s law enforcement agencies will track down, identify and act against those who lit the flame, and those who spread it,” said the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. By those words, Africa’s democratic countries are down to 14.
Despots come in three shapes – civilian, paramilitary, or military and are characterized by brutal acts of repression, injustices, indignities, and grotesque human rights violations. Despite their differences, the modus operandi of one despotic regime is strikingly similar to that of all the others – they use:
Brutal tactics: Street protests are disrupted with batons, water cannons, tear gas, and even gunfire.
Flagrant violations of human rights: Opponents of the regime are detained without trial; disappearances and murder are common; freedom of expression, movement, and assembly are nonexistent.
The military dictator tends to be the most vile and vicious. Their general motivation for intervening in politics is often “to save their countries” from some catastrophe: looting in the case of South Africa. The scale of repression is immediate and total, with restrictions on almost every type of freedom: expression, movement, and assembly.
We are witnessing an immediate institution of repression in South Africa, with draconian measures issued by decree to take immediate effect. The finger pointing is nauseating – the revolutionary freedom fighters are accused of betraying the cause of their own revolution through corruption: state capture. Ironically, Ramaphosa took up the reins of power in State capture. It is hard to think Ramaphosa was born a despot; he fought for freedom from colonial rule, but over time, he succumbed to the trappings of power and is evolving or transforming himself into a brutal military dictator by political opportunism.
The man started out as a genuine popular hero. He was initially hailed as a “savior” amid euphoria and was revered. No one could compete with him in any elections. He set a vision for South Africa with a rigid regimen that everyone must follow. But the public adulation eventually got to their heads, and they succumbed to delusions of grandeur—hunger is stalking masses in South Africa today. The dictatorship train has left the station and people are left alone.
Very soon, advisers will be stampeding to sing praise songs at Ramaphosa’s dinner table. Critics will be labeled “colonial stooges,” “imperialist lackeys,” “contra revolutionaries” (contras), or agents of foreign saboteurs. Constitutional changes to eliminate presidential elections are not far off. Enormous power will be concentrated in the president’s office from now on. The President will control all budgets and appoints judges, prosecutors, generals, state governors, and election commissioners.
Ramaphosa declared that the mass protests were a coup attempt therefore will ignore with impunity those sections of constitution that guarantee individual rights and freedom. Already soldiers are breaking into people’s private homes.