“Members Of PAC & POLAD Are Naive; They Are Merely Of Ornamental Value To The Regime”

Authoritarian regimes often use brute force to control citizens but may also use co-optation to contain opponents.

UK-based Zimbabwean law lecturer, Alex Magaisa considered the current government an authoritarian regime. In his blog Magaisa based his argument on a study by political scientist Milan W Svolik.

Writing in the his “Big Saturday Read“, Magaisa argues that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has used co-optation to control business elites through the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), and political opponents through the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD). He writes:

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While repression is a dominant feature of authoritarian rule as a means to control citizens, political scientists also recognise that authoritarian regimes use co-optation as a way of containing potential opponents.

The ruler who has come to power through a coup knows he has also created opponents within. He might eliminate them through violence or the threat of it or he might co-opt them.

Leading members of the ZANU PF faction which opposed Mnangagwa’s bid for the presidency had to flee the country in the aftermath of the coup fearing physical elimination and other forms of retribution. They remain in exile.

Old opponents and critics were co-opted into the regime. Some elites from business and academia such as Professor Mthuli Ncube were co-opted as Cabinet ministers.

The Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) is one such institution of co-optation with business elites co-opted as advisers to the President.

Boards of state institutions and parastatals such as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission are also platforms of co-optation.

The Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) is another zone of co-optation where a group of opposition parties, except the main opposition party, the MDC Alliance, are supposedly taking part in the dialogue with ZANU PF.

Others are co-opted by offers of diplomatic posts or as judges or technical advisers.

All these co-opted elites are made to feel very important and in their naivety, firmly believe that they can make a difference.

They have not read the manual of authoritarian rule to enable them to see that they are merely of ornamental value to the regime.

They are oblivious to the fact of their co-optation and if questioned, in their naivety they are more likely to protest their independence and to declare love for their country.

The regime has no interest in these niceties. Co-opted elites are few less opposition and serve to confer some respectability to the regime.

More: Big Saturday Read

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3 comments on ““Members Of PAC & POLAD Are Naive; They Are Merely Of Ornamental Value To The Regime”

  1. No Sir, I beg to differ. It is called inclusiveness. Embracing divergent views for checks and balances that ultimately lead to a peaceful and prosperous society. That is what it is. Nothing more.
    It never ceases to amaze me when fellow countrymen would go to any lengths denigrating every single positive step taken by this Govt, just to score some cheap political points from their masters. When similar steps are done at certain corners of the globe, it’s “Progressive” but when done in this continent its labelled “Authoritarian”.
    One of the best tenets to enlightenment is to accept who you are, where you come from, where you are going. And In our African culture, dialogue is the best weapon of choice. We carry the wounds of the so called progressive peoples’ aggression and plunder of our continent and we continue to wallow in poverty caused by the same peoples through their latest methods of warfare called ‘sanctions’ and through rhetoric such as this one, where every endeavor to bring some form of unity of purpose is criticised. Can you people and your peoples please kindly give this country a chance for God’s sake. Zimbabwe has 13 million plus Humans who desperately need it. Allow us to live please.

    1. Ndezvako izvo iwewe smolly, zim says we are a sovereign nation so zvema warfare aukutaura are irrelevant, since we are a soverign nation, kana vakatipa masanctions lets give them back tione kuti zvinochinja chinhu here, the likes of south africa are there and they did not give us sanctions, why not work with them and see if anything changes, its not about the so called sanctions but governance by this clueless regime. As for that PAC and POLAD they have been arround for a while now, what has come out of it till this day, dololo saka VaMagaisa marova dede nemukanwa chaimo, they are mere accesories avo kushandiswa kutyraya to legitimise the rogue regime

    2. I actually doubt if Alex Magaisa has any wisdom at all! He is the guy who was the late Morgan Tsvangirayi’s advisor, and see what he did – ill-advised the MDC on the 2013 elections; allowed the party to bring people like Erick Knight and Ezra Sibanda to contest on MDC ticket ahead of people who had been in the trenches with the party; and when they lost, they all went back to the UK, including this Alex Magaisa himself! You are right to say what ED is trying to implement is inclusiveness because when people go into elections, they are never warfare enemies, but citizens of the same country. Alex Magaisa falls in the category of Prof Jonathan Moyo – such people do not take responsibility for their failures but continue criticising others senselessly!

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“Members Of PAC & POLAD Are Naive; They Are Merely Of Ornamental Value To The Regime”