How to confuse a nation in order dominate it: Politics for Dummies

Zimbabwe Independence Rally

History has already given us different models of governance. But forget all that, here is a political theory based on a 34 year long empirical study. 


It always begins with a pending election. Do not set a date, make the polling day mysterious. Then one fine morning let the country wake up to the breaking news of the day; “ A guy is suing the government for failure to hold elections within a given time”. Find one of the finest political thinkers to formulate your campaign. When all the theorising and scheming is done, bring on board a few practical, physical and hands-on politicians to be the foot soldiers. Introduce a vague concept like “Team Zimbabwe” or whatever the name of your political party. Subliminally embed it into nearly every sector of life so much that  “Team” becomes a ubiquitous prefix. When you launch your campaign evoke emotions, appeal to the patriots, appeal to the business-minded, appeal to the youth, appeal to the peace lovers, but most importantly, work with a lot of little promises, even when your record shows clearly that you cannot deliver. If need be celebrate the tittle gains you have made in a larger-than-life kind of approach.

MDC Supporters bidding a farewell that never was

MDC Supporters bidding a farewell that never was


Produce large documents with complex but easy to remember acronyms like ZIMPREST, BACCOSSI or ZIMASSET. Don't bother explaining it that much. Do not worry about  work plans or monitoring systems. That is just a waste of time. Besides, the confusion that is generated from lack of timelines and monitoring is part of the bigger plan. Everyone should be confused. Including some of the people you hire to write such policies. Where possible you can borrow some words like ‘indigenous’ and turn them into intricate “socio-politiconomic” statutes.


It is important that everyone acquires primary education, try to push for secondary education if possible. Emphasise the importance of education. An educated nation is easier to run. The more the people who can read or write the better. They get to read the newspapers and the internet. That is where the real battle happens (as shall be explained later). Sell aspiration, those newspaper reading, ‘globally-minded’ folks like that sort of stuff. It makes them feel sophisticated and pushing their way into the heart of the middle class. As for university graduates, make sure they are endowed with complex theories of and about everything. Just create very little jobs. The bigger the unemployment rates, the better. The unemployed create their own odd jobs. This way they feel like they are defying the system (if not many laws of nature). They will surely use the little money they make to buy newspapers and internet bandwidth. They will read and analyse the zeitgeist, satisfying their inner sense of complexity. When you down your scotch or one of those intricate drinks from abroad, they will be sipping through a knock-off spirit from one of your many backdoor corporations.

The Media and the Agenda

Newspaper headlines on 28 July 2013

Newspaper headlines on 28 July 2013

This is the melting pot. The struggle is won or lost here. The plot has to be well-thought. Whatever it is, the basic principle is to stay at least 3 steps ahead. On any given day play the ignoramus also catching up like the rest of the people. To put a cherry on this pie, let the digital optimists hang onto their farfetched dream of clicking their way into democracy. As for the rest of the masses, they will continue social monitoring until they realise their voices are too small to speak out. Once this is done the result is a concoction  is delirious  fanaticism among those who support you while your opponents slowly degenerate into apathetic inertia.

Constantly feed people with words and catchy phrases. Make them think they are in charge of the discourse when you actually tell them what to think about. Once in a while introduce talking points such as carnival or any other diversion you can master. Make everyone forget yesterday’s headlines and focus on today’s hot topic. Mythology, Witchcraft, Succession, Corruption, Intelligence, Faction or whatever mayhem depending on the day. Work on a vague concept like vision 2030, don't give much detail. When it comes to future leadership do not give a lot of information. Just keep everyone speculating and scheming. By the time you are done, they would have decimated each other.

Parliament and other Organs

When you plan the house of assembly, think big. Rallies and Riots big. Similar with the the upper house. Opt for the older guys, they like to sleep and exchange pictures of their grandchildren, nothing gets done.

The End Game

Movement for Democratic Change supporters celebrate at a rally five days before 2013 elections.

Movement for Democratic Change supporters celebrate at a rally five days before 2013 elections.

If you have a way, use all the time you have to orchestrate the activities in your political opponents' camps. Make them react to a very little thing you do. Make them feel as if they are the only hope for the country’s future. Even if they are it doesn't matter, most people prefer the seen than the hoped unless if its coming from a "prophet's" mouth. If you achieve this, your adversaries will become complacent and forget every little thing that pushed them into opposition. Let them have a semblance of power. This helps them forget the basics. Let them fly around the world giving big talks about how they are the only viable solution. Once all this happens they will feel powerful, they will demand mansions and the biggest latest cars on the market. They will accept small bribes from who ever has the illusion that they have power. If there are men around as is always the case, let their manhood drag them along. If you do this right, they can marry just like they merry. Before you know it, they will have a handful of marriage proposals to women of all ages.

When all this is done, wait. A perfect domination starts to occur. A mystery is born. MYSTERY. Mystrey is good it pushes everyone into some kind of reaction. The Analysts will start to hypothesise, the Illiterate, the workers and the general population will be confused into mass hysteria. Then there is the Religious folk. Mystrey is a perfect condition for hope and hope is the basis of faith. The Media is always important, keep feeding them some form of front page worth scandal. The greater the scandal, the more the conspiracy theories. The more the conspiracy theories, the greater the confusion. The more the confusion, the smoother the autopilot style of governance. Whenever in doubt remember Solzhenitsyn's wisdom; 

A man will always wait silently and submissively for better times, clinging to whatever small blessings he may still enjoy. But when he has nothing more to lose and is ready to turn and fight it is more often than not too late, since he is already at bay or a captive who can do nothing but beat on the stone walls of his cell.- Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, First Circle.

Tenford Chitanana is a communications practitioner with interests in documentary film, crisis communications, web analytics, inbound marketing and social media. He is the Managing Editor of PAN. His passion is to build a well curated hub of knowledge and stories on African politics, entrepreneurship and the arts.