Moses Tshimukeni Mahlangu

OVER the past two weeks, a deliberate overview was made into the principles of democracy and dictatorship.

In this week’s discourse, we delve into probing the term dynasty.

Emmanuel S de Dios on 10th October 2012 commented: “Popular press and the academic literature blame dynasties as the root causes of political problems in the Philippines. Article II, Section 26 of 1987 was introduced in the Philippine Constitution in an attempt to bring an end to political dynasties.”

He goes on to argue that political dynasties are merely a symptom and not the disease.

The word dynasty in strict usage refers to a line of rulers from the same family, usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system.

A “house” is a dynastic family or lineage which may be styled royal princely or committal. The Liu family formed the Han dynasty of China. Broadly, the term dynasty may refer to an era during which the family reigned, it may also describe the events, trends and artefacts of that period.

The Yamato dynasty, affectionately known as the Imperial House of Japan, has been in power since 660 BC to date. Before the 19th and 20th Century, it was a given that the monarch’s legitimate function was to aggrandise his dynasty, meaning to increase the territory, wealth and power of family members.

The term dynasty may be used loosely to describe people who are not rulers, for example an influential and powerful family, such as successive owners of a major company, a famous sports team.

History is awash with dynasties, the likes of Edward VIII of the United Kingdom. However, following his abdication, he lost membership to the House of Windsor. A dynastic marriage is one which complies with monarchical house laws, restrictions, a disregard of which disqualifies one from eligibility to the throne and other royal privileges.

Dynasties cut across both capitalist and socialist societies — the British under Queen Elizabeth the II, the Kennedys, Bushes, Tafts and Rockerfellers in the United States of America.

Japan has had its Koizumis Abes and Fakudas, while India was ruled by the Nehru Gandhis, Pakistan had its Bhuttos and the Sharifs.

It would appear dynasties like dictatorships emerge from struggles for independence, in the case of India, wars of national liberation in China and Vietnam. In Malaysia, the cause was serious ethnic grievances.

Another source of dynasties is that of an entrenched tradition of princelings, meaning offspring of early revolutionary leaders.

In China, Bo Xilai the son of Bo Yibo, one of the eight immortals of Chinese politics is a good example. Xi Jinping, current Chinese president, is son to the first generation revolutionary and politician Xi Zhong Xun.

The Zimbabwean perspective adores those with liberation war credentials. The obsession with war credentials is so hyped up that some quarters believe only liberators qualify to rule Zimbabwe, as well as being accorded national hero status.

Dynasties are strong because politics is fragmented. In next week’s article, the author will be dealing with what he calls “strategy paralysis”. Currently, in Zimbabwe, opposition is paralysed.

When opposition is in intensive care, the ruling party has no scapegoat for its failures. During the Government of National Unity era, we used to be told that things were not moving because of a mismatch in ideological approach and perennial agreements.

The dog-eat-dog and cut-throat wars we now witness in Zanu PF are nothing but a manifestation of the paralysis that has gripped both the opposition and the ruling party. Strategy paralysis is serving no good for both the opposition and the ruling party.

The problem is not in forming political parties, but in establishing political parties of an adequate quality. The adequate quality may be achieved by, for example, demanding a higher minimum number of registered members for the new party, significant evidence of party activity and organisation in off-election years, large deposit of funds.

The requirements can assist in screening out the frivolous, weed out the transient and establish long term commitment. A huge capital injection makes exit difficult so it may apply to heavily committed political parties.

Based on the argument proffered to this end, it would appear dynasties take advantage of a fragmented political body. Princelingness or war credentials are used as a justification to occupy the dynasty throne.

However, in the course of developments, paralysis sets in for both the opposition and the dynasty, leading to feuding within the dynasty or abandoning the founding principles by the opposition.

The way forward in the circumstances is to mobilise genuine mass political parties (the critical mass) who may in turn use their substance to stamp their authority.

In the next article, a comparison will be made between democracy, dictatorship and dynasty. Suggestions will be made on the better form of governance between the three.

Remember, strategy paralysis favours no one, both contenders come out losers in the end.

Feedback: E-mail: mosietshimu@gmail.com