ZEROES 7: John Pombe Magufuli – a good year for tyrants

Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli won an election that was marred by cheating and violence.

Opposition leader Zitto Kabwe said that it was so bad that in fact no election had taken place.

But the election did serve one purpose. The result – a laughable 85% for the president – meant that the opposition lost all their seats in parliament.

As in other countries, the machinery of democracy was essentially used to wipe out the opposition and create a one party state.

In Russia a referendum approved changes to the constitution that would give President Vladimir Putin 12 more years in office.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping responded ruthlessly to a democratic movement in Hong Kong, killing off civil liberties in the once relatively free city.

And we won’t even mention American President Donald Trump because we have given him his own special place in this year’s list.

The pro-democracy organisation Freedom House estimated that 80 countries used the cover of Covid to become less democratic.

Only one country – Malawi – became more free.

Dozens of the world’s leading scholars of authoritarianism published an open letter stating that democracy “is either withering or in full-scale collapse globally”.