Fascism is an ideology that belongs to a particular moment in history. These types of regimes grew to become very powerful at different points in the 1900’s. The ideology places emphasis on a country having a strong centralized state, or national government. The aim is for the government to have total control over all major aspects of society and strip individuals of their freedoms under a single, strong dictator who has almost unlimited power. Benito Mussolini’s Italy, Adolf Hitler’s Germany and General Francisco Franco’s Spain were all famously and notoriously fascist. These regimes were all notably very military oriented as the times required for such focus but they also had a large emphasis on controlling politics and media in their home countries.
Zambia, as a very peaceful nation, obviously does not place much emphasis on military and imperial strength but in recent years the political scene in the country has become very worrying. The controversial shutting down of the Post Newspaper in June 2016 can be seen by many as the ruling party’s attempt at silencing media outlets from speaking out against the regime. Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) under instruction from the state house, stormed the Post Newspaper’s head office accompanied by armed police who demanded that the company immediately pay a disputed tax of K68 million. The timing was impeccable as the general elections were right around the corner and the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) could not afford any negative press and had no choice but to grab the bull by the horns. Silencing and controlling media was one of the distinct features of fascism in Italy.
The Nazi party in Germany had a ministry of propaganda headed by Joseph Goebbels. This ministry’s job was to control all aspects of German cultural and intellectual life. It was also responsible for controlling German news, literature, visual arts, filmmaking, theatre, music and broadcasting. Zambia of course does not have a ministry as extreme as Germany’s propaganda regime, but lately one can see that a lot of early “campaigning” is taking place well before the 2021 elections. Pictures have surfaced of the president’s face on exercise books, calendars and even tissue rolls in some local areas. While the government has denied any involvement in these acts, the simple thought of them possibly being behind it all should send chills down the spines of all Zambians. The portraying of a president as a supreme leader and/or saviour is frighteningly totalitarian and also strikes an uncanny resemblance to Kim Jung-un in North Korea.
During Hitler’s regime, any opposition to the Nazi party was dealt with very swiftly and harshly. The Nazi party had a lot of power and was effectively allowed to decide who they felt was an opponent or threat to the rule of the supreme party. In many similar ways in our country, we have recently seen all forms of opposition quashed very quickly by the incumbent.
The arrest and imprisonment of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema on treason charges was one of the biggest political stories of 2016. Later in the year, civil society leader Laura Miti, famous local musician Pilato and a number of other’s marched in a peaceful protest of the now famous $42 million fire truck saga and were very swiftly met with police resistance and arrested. These are just two of the various incidents where we have seen the government decide who they feel is a threat to the regime and taken swift action to reprimand them. Whether or not these arrests are just is of course up for interpretation but the similarities with the olden totalitarian regimes are very evident. Either way, the executive has way too much influence over the judiciary meaning they decide on what’s just and what isn’t.
Fascism is a very terrifying ideology and there are very few contemporary examples of it as many leaders seemed to have learned from the past. All attempts by leaders to practice it again have been quashed with immediate effect. This article is by no means an attack on our government but its sole purpose is to educate our beloved Zambians on the dangers of fascism and why certain issues that have been taking place of late do not tie into our country’s democratic ethos.
–Featured image– Zambia National Assembly | wikimedia commons
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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