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Dictatorship often seen in the wrong lenses

Isa Senkumba

Dictatorship often seen in the wrong lenses

In a dictatorial arrangement the government is usually stable

Every time the word dictator is mentioned names of certain personalities are displayed onto our brain screens. The list cannot be concluded without usual suspects like Mao Zedong, Leopold II, Josef Stalin, Hideki Tojo, Omar al-Bashir, Idi Amin Dada, Robert Mugabe, Saddam Hussein and others. 

All these shared one or more of these common traits: suspension of elections  and of civil liberties,  proclamation of a state of emergency,  rule by decree, repression of political opponents without abiding by rule of law, procedures and cult of personality.

Dictatorship is a form of government in which the power is centralized. It either lies with a single person or a small group of people. The general population has no say in the functioning of the government. The people do not have any choice with regards to by whom or how their country will be run. In a dictatorship form of government, the people are expected to do, whatever is decided for them by the dictator.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is one of the surviving dictators. He is said to have risen to power via electoral deception and fear mongering. There was even one election where he did not receive any votes in a certain province so he orchestrated the killing of over 20,000 civilians by fabricating stories of rebellion and treason. During his time in office over 3.1 million Zimbabweans lost their homes, jobs, and livelihood due to his “land reform program” aka bulldozing any village that voices dissent.

China’s Mao Zedong cannot go unnoticed.  He is famous for being one of the communist leaders of the Republic of China beginning around World War II. Mao Zedong was a ruler who thirsted for power. In his first five years, he killed about 4 to 6 million by indiscriminately sentencing them to death. His policies also starved about 20 million and on top of that he had numerous enemies of the state executed.

In a dictatorial arrangement the government is usually stable. In the first place, the decision-making lies with only one person and others do not have any say in the working of the government; it offers a kind of stability to the country. Problems such as frequent elections, as in the case of democracy, or a disruption of peace due to political factions, do not arise in a dictatorship.

Dictatorial governments provide less room for corruption. A dictator is very stringent with regards to the rules, regulations, penalties, punishments and rewards. This makes the people working under him less liable to corruption.

It is also important to note that dictatorial governments are most efficient during Emergencies. When a country faces any kind of emergency, such as a war or a health epidemic, a dictatorship government can prove to be the most efficient one. The reason being that all the decisions are taken by one person, so there is no ambiguity with regards to the plan of action as well as individual responsibilities that are fixed to cope with the emergency. So one of its main advantages over democracy is that it is better equipped to face emergencies.

Most of the dictatorship governments are police states. So, in a way there is low crime rate under such regimes. Another reason for a better law and order situation in these states is that various laws are passed immediately, without any discussion or waiting for the public opinion on them. This leads to better control over crimes too.

Things Happen Quickly. In a dictatorship form of government, all things, whether related to governance or businesses or anything else, happen much quicker than in other types of government. The reason for this is the same i.e. decision-making lies with a single person.

Although for these advantages to translate into real life, a dictator needs to be self less, benevolent, well experienced and intelligent. As a dictator has unlimited power, if he does not possess these qualities, the disadvantages of dictatorship, such as oppression of people, no freedom of choice for the people, accumulation of wealth in a few hands, loss of civil rights, flawed decision-making, etc. can lead the country towards a wrong path.

Looking at the stakes associated with a dictatorship form of government, many countries under such a regime are considering becoming democracies, which is a form of government for the people, of the people and by the people. Today, looking at the progress democracies such as America and India are making, democracy is considered the best form of governance.  



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