From a Harvard Prof: Scoring Jacob Zuma on Dictatorship test

By Alec Hogg

How do you know whether your political leader is a dictator? I started wondering, as you might also, after reading the list of ten questions offered as a guide by Harvard International Relations Professor Stephen Walt.

Writing for Foreign Policy magazine, Walt’s context was imploring Americans to keep an eye on the actions of President-elect Donald Trump. But they make chilling reading in a South African context. Here’s the list of dictatorial attributes:

  1. Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.
  2. Building an official pro-incumbent media network.
  3. Installing political supporters into civil service, military and domestic security agencies.
  4. Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.
  5. Using State buying power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.
  6. Stacking the courts with his judges.
  7. Enforcing the law for only one side – his.
  8. Rigging the political system in his favour.
  9. Fear-mongering
  10. Demonising the opposition

By my estimation, this is one test that Jacob Zuma would ace with a 90% score (I’m not sure about Number 4). How do you score him in the Dictator stakes?

South African President Jacob Zuma. REUTERS/Rogan Ward
South African President Jacob Zuma. REUTERS/Rogan Ward