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I lived under Mugabe: It showed me Wales needs to be free of Johnson’s desperate grip on power

13 Sep 2019 4 minute read
Boris Johnson. Picture by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (CC BY 2.0)

Tane Rogers-Eirug

Hundreds of people marched across Wales last week to protest against the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend the Westminster Parliament.

It was the type of story I had come to expect growing up in Zimbabwe during Robert Mugabe’s reign.

After the end of British rule, the former President for life inherited an antiquated parliamentary system that was vulnerable to manipulation and authoritarianism.

After winning the elections in 1980, a tyranny of the majority meant Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party could exercise unchecked power and authority in much the same way Boris Johnson has tried unsuccessfully to deny MPs the chance to block a no-deal exit from Europe.

As someone who has lived under such as system, I know that was has begun in the United Kingdom is a very slippery slope. Do not take for granted that it could not happen here.


The prorogation of parliament came at a time when MPs had to act decisively to avoid a no-deal Brexit and inevitably choose between passing a Brexit deal or revoking article 50.

But the Prime Minister has no intention of negotiating a deal with the EU.  Greens\EFA MEP Phillipe Lambert explained this week that “there is no negotiation” while Michel Barnier described talks as being in a state of “paralysis”.

It seems clear therefore that Boris Johnsons’ intention is to crash out of the EU if he can, with all the negative consequences the government’s own forecasts spell out for Wales.

The attempted forcing through of a no-deal Brexit to ‘take back control’ is just the sort of perverse logic we’ve come to expect from a Mugabe-esque Prime Minister whose every decision of late is motivated by a desperate desire to preserve his grip on power.

As news of the prorogation broke across Wales a chorus of voices sang out in protest across news and social media. Talk of a coup and the omnishambles of UK Parliament left many of us wondering why Wales’ future was still tied to an archaic and shambolic parliamentary system.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price took to the airwaves to vent his frustrations, calling the Prime Minister’s decision shambolic, he warned of the impending cataclysm of a no-deal exit from the European Union.

But while the First Minister Mark Drakeford expressed condemnation calling the situation facing Wales and the UK a “constitutional crisis”, he doubled down on his commitment to the union, reflecting the view among many in the Labour party that Wales’ interests are best served within the union.

With British Democracy emasculated by Johnson’s denial of Parliament perhaps its time Wales woke up to the shambolic reality of Westminster rule.

The actions of the Prime Minister can only add momentum to the Welsh independence movement. Politicians nor journalist should be surprised that 5,200 people decided to march through the streets of Merthyr on Saturday.

Throughout Wales’ history, there have been defining moments of injustice that have catalysed greater calls for freedom and self-determination.

In the late 1960s, the drowning of Welsh valleys and the theft of welsh water convinced many that the path to Welsh freedom could not be attained through the British Constitution but only through the will of the people.

Boris Johnson’s shutting down of Parliament is a similar moment. It shows that not only is Wales’ voice weak at Westminster, it can be silenced completely.


In reaction to the proroguing of Parliament, the National Assembly returned early from its summer recess to debate the constitutional crisis.

During the emergency Senedd debate on Thursday, the majority of members present declared the prorogation of Parliament a constitutional outrage. Plaid Cymru called on the Welsh Government to establish a Constitutional Convention to explore options for Wales’ future.

We have seen from Johnson’s actions that Brexit does not mean ‘taking back control’ for Wales – it means giving it away.

With a Citizens’ Assembly and a Constitution for Wales, the nation can truly express its will and make the voice of its people heard.

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Eos Pengwern
4 years ago

This is bizarre. How can you possibly accuse someone of having a desperate grip on power when they’ve twice tried to call a General Election and been denied it by the Opposition?

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
4 years ago
Reply to  Eos Pengwern

And why? Well no one trusts Boris Johnson. He is the sort of person who will do ‘anything’ to achieve his aims and satisfy his ego, yes and that undoubtedly means breaking the law somehow too. I have been to Zimbabwe many times and I have seen the consequences of a dictatorship first hand – we must stop anything like it happening in the UK. For once Labour (and I am not a Labour voter) and other opposition parties, put their country before political and personal gain. And before someone shouts out ‘the people voted!’ – no amount of democracy… Read more »

Huw Davies
Huw Davies
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve Duggan

You need to reflect on your statement that “no amount of democracy is worth someone losing their job” as you are locking democracy into a fixed condition. For example, a future government exercises its majority powers to cancel Trident, or even HS2. Such decisions have consequences on employment levels that might last more than a few weeks, or months, or even years. Are you seriously suggesting that such a rule should be enforced in those circumstances, or is this just a “one off” that ensures Brexit doesn’t happen ? Wales needs its independence and a Constitutional Convention to start a.s.a.p.… Read more »

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
4 years ago
Reply to  Huw Davies

So someone losing there job because of Brexit is acceptable? Yeh, I’m sure those that lose their jobs will say – well at least democracy has been honoured ! No one said self determinaion would be easy but I believe we stand a better chance of achieving prosperity independently within the EU. At least within the EU we benefit from the Single Market and a common Customs Union, something we’ve benefited from for the past few decades. As it stands Wales will lose all the funding it gets as one of the poorest areas in Europe and find tariffs on… Read more »

ir Humphrys
ir Humphrys
4 years ago
Reply to  Eos Pengwern

You know that we know, that Johnson thinks the English will vote Tory in large numbers, as their media has
stirred up fears that J Corbyn is Stalin.
Therefore Johnson, who is hungry for more power, sees an Election as the road to No Deal.
Simple, really, but you knew that anyway, didn’t you?

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