Guest Editorial – The Dictator Left, Dictatorship Never Left
One individual often dominates a dictatorship, and that is the dictator himself, around whom all state decisions revolve. However, one person alone cannot control even ten people, much more a million, unless he gets some help from other people.
So, how was Yaya Jammeh able to control over a million Gambians such that his word became divine edict? Enter the coterie that the dictator surrounds himself with: The enablers! Dictatorships have at least three components: The dictator, the enablers and the people. No dictatorship can survive without these three components.
The enablers write the laws that the dictator uses to consolidate power and control the people. These laws allow the dictator to go after anyone he deems a threat to his dictatorial powers, and they do this in the name of maintaining law and order. Other enablers help the dictator steal funds from the people. In contrast, others ensure the dictator is safe and secure through the various security services at the dictator’s service.
Some enablers promote the dictator and help him build a cult personality by obeying, cheering and nodding to all that the dictator says. Yet, other enablers parrot anything the dictator says and does through the media.
Then you have those enablers who are in some administrative position to ensure the dictator’s desires are met such that kafkaesque is able to produce some “projects” that they will always use to claim the good of the dictator. Some travel the world promoting the dictator’s agenda and defending his excesses to the world.
Ask any of these enablers, and they’ll say they’re working for the country! They all get rewarded by the dictator who understands their love for titles and positions and uses it against them. But all these enablers, who are supposedly working for the country, somehow never see their role in enabling the dictatorship. They miss the forest of human rights abuses because of the overbearing tree of the dictator under whose shade they bask.
The dictator must maintain a symbiotic relationship with the enablers because the dictator knows that he cannot survive without the enablers. That relationship is the foundation of the dictatorship.
When the dictator falls, the dictatorship system they built must be dismantled such that the citizens can be truly free. Otherwise, the dictator may be gone, but the dictatorship remains. Such is the case of The Gambia.
Yaya ran away, but his dictatorship is firmly in place. And instead of dismantling the dictatorship, those who replaced the dictator were more interested in enthroning themselves and changing only those laws that were in their way.
The Barrow government is still functioning on the same standard operating procedures as Yaya Jammeh was. Adama Barrow isn’t yet as abusive as Yaya Jammeh, but he too is drunk on power and slowly climbing to the apex of megalomania. And when that power is threatened in any way, be rest assured that he will employ the tactics, techniques and procedures of Yaya.
As Barrow himself once warned, “I have more power because I have the army, the police, the SIS and ECOMIG! And he’s right; nothing has changed in that regard; the dictatorship remains!
“The lion’s power lies in our fear of him”, goes the ancestors’ proverb.