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Nelson Chamisa called Zimbabwe's last election a farce Credit: Getty Images


Chamisa not forming new party after quitting CCC



NELSON Chamisa, Zimbabwe’s main opposition CCC leader who quit his party on Thursday in a huff after its descent into political turmoil due to recalls of MPs and other elected representatives by self-imposed leaders, saying it has been infiltrated by Zanu PF and its subversives, will not form a new political party.


Informed sources say Chamisa is moving away from the political party model into a space of post-party politics through a social or political movement that will be citizen-centred and work differently from conventional parties.

Sources say Chamisa thinks CCC missed the opportunity of being a truly citizen movement by turning itself into a political party always locked in a debate about organisational structures, positions and institutionalisation.

In his statement announcing his quitting on Thursday, Chamisa refers to that.

“CCC has, to all intents and purposes, been criminally handed over to Zanu PF. Our politics has been defiled by schemes of personal aggrandisement upon a runaway pursuit of politics of positions, title, benefits, trinkets and trappings of office. A contaminated, bastardised, hijacked CCC cannot deliver a New Great Zimbabwe!”

He continues: “We as the citizens are duty bound to find lasting answers to our perennial national questions. With what has happened to CCC, we need honest and accountable citizens in leadership. Stand ready to serve!

“I have been approached by war veterans, women’s groups, youth groups, church leaders, traditional leaders, trade unions, civil society and even various leaders on the continent on the ways to find a lasting solution to our problems as a nation.

“Various schemes and carrots have been dangled to entice the undermining of the cause for freedom. Some of us have refused silver coins in pursuit of the higher ideal — happiness and dignity for everyone. It is now clear to everyone that big money is finding into the pockets of some, who, on account of poverty and material desperation have succumbed to the temptation of enticement.

“The infiltration of CCC and our efforts to wrestle it out of capture, is to our utmost surprise but not unexpected, been denied through the judicial system defying all logic and legal reasoning.

“We call upon all citizens to rally behind fresh politics, new politics and genuine fresh and credible leaders who want to serve and not to be served. Zanu PF can take everything that we sweated for, take the party and its name, take the money and whoever is a beneficiary of this fraud, is a certified fraudster.

“This is to officially, and under my hand, inform you fellow citizens of Zimbabwe and the world, that, with immediate effect, I no longer have anything to do with CCC.”

Making a pitch for his new movement which he has in mind, Chamisa added: “As a patriot, I remain active in public service. I also remain a loyal citizen listener, freedom advocate, a citizens’ champion and leader. There are fresh things we need to do. Let’s all work together for total freedom, true change and holistic transformation for our beloved country. Giving up or giving in is not an option. Nothing comes without tenacity and resilience. Fellow citizens, you will be kept posted on the next step.”

A source privy to the former CCC leader’s future plans told The NewsHawks: “Let us interpret Chamisa, his actions and thoughts using what he said in public, information that is not in the public domain and basic political analytical tools and lens.

“First, if you read his statement carefully and of course know what is actually happening around him, Chamisa left his options open when he quit the CCC. He has several options, but certainly one of those — which is forming a new party — is out.

“He is not going to form a new party. His concept is now different. It’s clear at some point he will create a new movement, not a party, with citizens at the centre of it, which functions through broad democratic mobilisation and activism processes rather formal structures or as a formal political institution.

“He will formalise his informal approach to politics, which created tensions and divisions in CCC, away from conventional political organisation and institutionalisation. He believes that will be a better strategy and way forward.”

Chamisa is contemplating working through a political movement which is not structured and institutionalised, to stay close to the “heartbeat of his constituencies and followers”.

“Second, this means his new formation will operate like a social or political movement that has a leader without formal structures and institutionalisation, which is what he tried to do in the CCC by having a movement within a formal political party through the nebulous concept of ‘strategic ambiguity’.

“Third, his leadership style will be a big issue here and matters going forward. He needs to self-introspect and reflect on that. His new movement may rise or fall on that. He says in his statement that he is a servant leader and embraces servant leadership, but in reality, at least in the eyes of his critics, he is autocratic. Objectively, what is his leadership style? Is it democratic, autocratic, laissez-faire, transformational, transactional, bureaucratic or servant?

“Fourth, the answer to this is that his leadership is a combination of the autocratic, transactional and servant approaches.

“Fifth, autocratic leadership is the direct opposite of democratic leadership. In this case, as was the case in CCC, the leader makes all decisions on behalf of the team without consulting or taking any input from them. He or she holds all authority and responsibility. They have absolute power and dictate all tasks to be undertaken. There is no consultation before a decision is made, just like the way he resigned. After the decision is made, everyone is expected to support the decision made by the leader. There is often some level of fear of the leader by the team.

“Transactional leadership is based on patronage. It is more short-term and can best be described as a ‘give and take’ approach. Loyalty and not competence, for instance, is traded for positions.

“To his credit, he has elements of servant leadership. He is also charismatic in a way. That is what is needed in a political movement.”

However, experiences from other countries show that movement-based political formations that attempt grassroots democratic and participatory coordination among activists often suffer from volatility and internal contradictions as they do not invest in organisational structures.

But technology and new modes of communication might shape what kinds of investments in organisational structure are needed and necessary for Chamisa.

Leaders of movements often consider whether technology might allow new parties that emerged out of social mobilisation to maintain horizontal networks that have proven so useful in protest organisation without leading to fragmentation.

Yet Chamisa would be aware that movements are usually plagued by internal discord, infighting and fragmentation, just like the CCC has been. So his plan to create a coherent political movement might run into a similar challenge unless he has learnt something from MDC, MDC-T and MDC-Alliance, as well as CCC.

Technology might help Chamisa to stay “close to the heartbeat of his constituencies” as he conceptualises and creates his movement by regularly taking a pulse check in-between elections, but building a movement takes more than technology.

Movements are usually single-issue based, so his followers and analysts would be anxiously waiting to know the type of organisation he will launch and its objective.

Leadership, vision, objective, deliberative democracy and transparency, as well as accountability will determine how far Chamisa will go. And whether he will retain credibility and traction in his social base and among the electorate.

Apart from infighting and infiltration, the informalisation of the economy, decline of the labour unions and weakening of party identifications, as well as the deep mistrust of established political party institutions, has limited the effectiveness of parties. This was especially the case with the opposition MDC and its various manifestations, including the CCC, its extension.

The source continued: “This change on the political landscape has either left organised protest as the most viable strategy and creates an opportunity for the formation of a political movement that operates on different principles, emphasising transparency and accountability not just the ends — capture of state power.

“Chamisa is moving away from party structures to a social movement organisational style, although the boundary between the two is sometimes blurred. Party structures are evolving and adapting in Zimbabwe. The MDC was a catch-all party, while Zanu PF is a mass party. The CCC is stratarchical or a stratarchy. It has unconventional characteristics usually associated with social movements and Chamisa ran it with an anti-institutional stance despite participation in formal politics.”

But because democracy requires organisation, Chamisa’s political movement will face pressure to create formal structures to successfully mobilise people, especially for electoral purposes. Electoral objectives force politicians in movement parties to opt for organisational forms to mobilise votes.

Analysts say political entrepreneurs make investments in organisational structures and incur transaction costs of organising compliance if their collective objectives cannot be met.

This is the pressure Chamisa will face. He will have to walk a tight rope between formalisation, professionalisation and institutionalisation of his movement to mobilise.

“In the tradition of Weber and Michels, many social movement theorists see anti-institutional stances and formal organisations as irreconcilable because of ‘an inherent tension between the logic of movement activism and the logic of electoral politics’,” one analyst said.

“Chamisa is contemplating a social movement which provides a live example of the way in which democratic politics is being restructured and reshaped both within and beyond the state in Zimbabwe.

“A social movement represents that sphere of activity often left behind by political parties and the state. It represents an arena of autonomous collective action free from the involvement of parties and the state; thus acting as a weight against the overpowering and sometimes totalitarian implications of state interference in society.”

The source said: “In this political environment marked by polarisation and toxic politics, a movement might actually be what is most needed in Zimbabwe now. So Chamisa is facing a crisis, yet there is an opportunity to start something new and run it properly, not what he did at CCC. Social movements provide an alternative conceptualisation and practice of democratic politics free from the hegemonic tendencies of state power and narrow approaches of political parties.

“Of course, these things are not mutually exclusive. Movement mobilisation, which Chamisa wants, has a significant impact on party politics, influencing political parties and their repertoires of action.”

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