We're under a personalistic regime

HARARE - The past two weeks have illustrated that Zimbabwe has all the traits of a personalistic regime.

The life of the country virtually revolves around one person — President Robert Mugabe.

Personalistic regimes have been defined as systems in which one powerful individual dominates the government apparatus and its instruments, including the military, the ruling party, and the State bureaucratic apparatus.

Personalistic political systems, according to some authors, tend to ensconce leaders and allow them to enjoy longer tenure in office.

These observations fit snugly with the characteristics of the Mugabe regime.

The State-controlled media’s constant reference to Mugabe as the Head of State and Government and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (and First Secretary of Zanu PF) is reflective of the personalistic nature of the regime.

First, Mugabe flies to Singapore for something as routine as an eye cataract operation, if the official version is to be believed.

As has been pointed out by other observers before, this is an operation that can be performed locally.

Under personalistic regimes, a ruler’s private interests subordinate public and national interests.

Such excesses, however, cease to be matters of robust inquiry.

Authors Jeff Colgan and Julian Weeks concluded that roughly half of all revolutions result in personalistic regimes.

Mao Zedong in China, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Idi Amin in Uganda, and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya all seized on the upheaval of their revolutions to build personalistic regimes.

Revolutionary rulers in personalistic regimes, they say, remain in power for a higher proportion of the post-revolutionary period than in non-personalistic regimes, leading to more conflict during the tenures.

Mugabe has built a personalistic regime after a revolution that brought independence.

It has become tradition over these years for the “nation” to “celebrate” his birthday annually.

After his visit to Singapore, he was treated to a birthday bash at a reported cost of over $1 million despite the financial difficulties ordinary citizens face.

“I know of people with titles like Idi Amin Dada who gave himself the title Conqueror of the British Empire, but we celebrate the birthday of the genuine Conqueror of the British Empire,” gushed Zanu PF youth league leader Absolom Sikhosana on the occasion of Mugabe’s 90th birthday last week. 

While the struggle for self-determination involved many, praise-singers arrogate such collective heroic acts to the individual object of the praise-singing.

Mugabe’s birthday also draws a slew of eulogising newspaper messages from State and private institutions and individuals.

At the weekend, his daughter, Bona, held a wedding for a reported $5 million at Mugabe’s plushy Borrowdale home.

The Mugabes now own vast tracts of land, some reportedly seized from previous owners.

Mugabe’s spokesperson was quick to state that the land on which the venue of the wedding stands (in Borrowdale) “was bought by the party, Zanu PF, for their leader. Not a single cent came from the State. The structure was put up through private savings and donations from well-wishers.” This information seems to have been provided without prompting.

The mansion is valued at $10 million.

The State-controlled media were allowed access to attend and broadcast the wedding, while the privately-owned media were barred, perhaps in order to avoid inquisitive elements and thus manage the narrative.

At an earlier bachelor’s party for the groom, Simba Chikore, praise-singers were at full throttle.

Zimbabwe bears the hallmarks of a personalistic regime.

Personalistic political systems are, however, unaccountable.

A society that generally does not bring its leaders to account breeds the kind of corruption that has surfaced in recent months.

Comments (1)

Iwe zvichaperachete !.Matibili is the CEO of ZIMMAFIA.Matibili has been presiding over the most corrupt,brutal Cabal in Zim Living History.Matibili &his Cronies have been looting&plundering Zim resources left,right &centre since 1980.It is the reason why Matibili has been violently&fraudulently clinging to POWER since 1990.He doesnt have the mandate of the majority of Zimbabweans yet he still clings on to the Presidency much to the chagrin of the Freedom&peaceloving Zimbabweans.Matibili & his Harlot DisGrace are evil&corrupt to the bonemarrow.Both of the them are addicted to CORRUPTION &lavish lifestyles yet the majority of Zimboz continue to wallow in abject POVERTY.There is no doubt that Matibili is an illegitimate President & illegal occupant at Munhumutapa/State/Zimbabwe houses.There is no doubt that MATINJILI MATIBILI is HAGUE/HELL BOUND!.Power corrupts ,absolute Power corrupts absolutely!.

Dr Zvichaperachete - 5 March 2014

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