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Chamisa’s CCC must not be a ghost organisation, it needs to be accountable

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The question of whether or not CCC must frame a constitution, come up with structures and go to congress to select party leaders is, no doubt, such a hot and wearying one. But that’s one question you would not want to wish away too soon, no matter what the party and its critics have said on it already.

In public, Nelson Chamisa, the interim president, and the caretaker leadership set up early this year when the party announced itself ahead of the March 26 by-elections say there don’t see any currency in doing a constitution.

Somewhat arrogantly, the party has been insisting that no-one has a legitimate account to force it into a congress because it is a private entity that will do things the way it likes.

This statement is misleading. For all you care, given its popularity, CCC stands a big chance of forming the next government after the 2023 elections. That means the CCC is not as private as it would have the world believe.

And, quite confusingly, CCC says it’s breaking away from the political tradition to turn itself into a structured being. Instead, it has this vague model whereby, as it says, the people — to mean its supporters traded as citizens —are the ones that are leading the party, therefore there is no need to waste resources and sweat on a congress.

After all, parties like Zanu-PF have always had well-defined structures, leadership structures and ritualistically held conferences and congresses—whatever the difference—since Jesus Christ threatened to come back for Judgment Day, but how many cows have they brought to the dip tank? This is a question that the refusal by CCC to take the traditional route implies.

But the party has other excuses. Pretty political excuses for that matter. CCC, on its own admission, is afraid that Zanu-PF and its kowtow pawns in the security sector and sham opposition spaces like MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora would infiltrate and disrupt it if it announced its structures.

There is this Pentecostal effect in CCC. It is a popular party and its faithfuls would defend its leader and it with life and limb, just the same way followers of most of these Pentecostal churches follow and defend the pastors and prophets with blind faith and fury.

Predictably, there are more chances of an ass walking down for a stream bath than a CCC supporter or member getting critical of the current party leadership position against a constitution, structures and leadership elections at congress.

Not surprising, though. Politics in Zimbabwe — as in Africa —thrives, to a very large extent, on blind loyalty of the people.

But here is the thing. The issue of crafting a constitution, doing a congress and setting up structures within CCC is so critical and can’t be wished away with clever political talk. It has far reaching implications in terms of the governance, accountability and transparency of a party that holds big chances of becoming the next government.

It may just as well be a reality that CCC already has a party constitution tucked away somewhere and is waiting for what it considers the right time to release it. It may also be a fact that CCC is planning a congress, probably somewhere close to the next general elections. As for party structures, the party already has an interim leadership. You have probably heard about the formation or plan to form grassroots steering committees within CCC, complete with street and village point persons. Those are structures, grassroots structures. Interestingly, the party already someone they call secretary for rural mobilisation. So, as it stands, CCC already has structures, but these are partial and incomplete structures.

Just recently, Chamisa announced what in all earnest looks like a shadow cabinet. If, in retrospect, that’s not what he meant it to be, it still betrays an anxiety on the part of the party to do structures. Never mind the fact all this came after an awkward visit to Zimbabwe by Stephen Chan, the political scientist who has suddenly become a sage where Zimbabwean politics is concerned.

But in the absence of a public and tacit pronouncement, we should just assume that CCC is not worried about real and solid structures, a constitution and/or congress.

Such a position tells a lot on the main opposition’s derision regarding transparency, accountability and integrity. It’s hugely difficult to be transparent if you don’t have a constitution, structures and no open manner of electing leaders. You can’t have no structures and then claim that your party is accountable. That’s a contradiction in terms. Accountable to who? How?

Forget it, it’s a lie that leadership can just form itself from an amorphous heap, what Zanu-PF used to call the masses. That was the mistake that we saw with Simba Makoni’s Mavambo formation in 2008. Makoni seemed to have been so much seized with “servant leadership”, honestly or dishonestly, that he insisted that the people must claim the account on how the party must be run. The natural result was that Mavambo died a sudden death. It had become rudderless.

Things can get worse than that. A political party with a false leadership as what the CCC interim crew seems to be gunning for becomes a victim of anarchy. Anarchy thrives where there are no defined structures, where there are no guiding principles as what a constitution would provide, and where things are done on an ad hoc basis.

Take the example of the grassroots steering committees that CCC seems to be setting up. To who must the steering committee members report? Surely, they can’t be reporting to themselves. There is no leadership structure or hierarchy, at least as far as we know. And whatever is going to happen or be decided on can be easily challenged.

If they are going to take their message straight to the interim party president, there is even a bigger problem. That tendency creates a one centre of power. It makes Chamisa that centre of power. And a one centre of power is not too far away from a dictatorship. The two are like the stork and summer.

We have seen too much of centres of powers in Zanu-PF and there is no prize for guessing what that means for both internal democracy and wider democracy. Ominously for CCC, this translates to a perpetuation of the political culture we have seen in Zanu-PF. A political culture that has not served the interests of the general populace, but just a few individuals in power.

Besides, why does CCC believe that it can still retain the moral and political legitimacy to call out Zanu-PF on democracy? A political party that has no constitution, essentially, can’t be democratic.  The next time that CCC would insist on media, electoral, military and the whole litany of other reforms, many people will get confused.

Reforms are structure-based. They are also constitution- and law-based. They are based on a matrix of accountability too and CCC seems to be holding all these things in contempt. What legitimacy would it claim if it’s coming to the podium with soiled hands and mouths?

The party will be fodder for Zanu-PF spin doctors. They will just say, “Just go back home and first do what you are asking our government to do. You can’t be preaching what you don’t practice. You are lawless!”

Again, how are you going to deal with the critical issues of ideology and decision-making if you have no guiding compass or defined decision-making structures? Who is going to define your ideology, and how? As it stands, CCC only has a small and handpicked leadership at the top. In the absence of a structured form, this is the clique that will be making all the decisions. Such decisions invariably lack a popular quorum, so to speak. But then, you can’t have a few individuals framing the ideology, manifesto and so on for such an evidently popular party.

You can’t leave everything in the hands of a small group to define your goals, objectives and strategies. That’s how the witchcraft of autocracy starts.

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