THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has cited Zimbabwe and Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Union state, as being among the world's "pseudo-democracies" where elected governments behave like their authoritarian predecessors.
In the last two years, Zimbabwe has been slowly sliding towards dictatorship as the Zanu PF government battles to maintain its stranglehold on power in the face of a strong threat from the opposition MDC. The UN agency's 2002 report, released last week, laments that several countries which embraced democracy after the Cold War, had retrogressed, while "many others have limited political competition and continuing abuse of political and civil rights". Today, only 47 of the 81 countries are considered as functioning democracies, said the report titled Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World.
"Then there is the disturbing spread of 'illiberal' democracies, as in Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe, where elected governments act the same as their authoritarian predecessors, depriving citizens of human rights and ignoring constitutional limits on power," the report said. Late last year, the government repealed the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act crafted by Ian Smith's Rhodesian government to suppress black nationalist movements. The colonial law was replaced by the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) which has been condemned as more draconian than its predecessor. POSA, among other repressive clauses, empowers the police to shoot at demonstrators when they deem it necessary and prohibits the holding of political gatherings without clearance from the police…
The Daily News/All Africa Global Media, August 7, 2002