HomeAnalysisEditor’s Memo: CCC congress debate: Whither democracy?

Editor’s Memo: CCC congress debate: Whither democracy?

By Faith Zaba

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was built around Morgan Tsvangirai’s personality. It is personality politics or personality cultism. Similarly, Zanu PF under the late former president Robert Mugabe was personified around its autocratic leader.

This certainly weakened the main political outfits as there was no party institutionalisation since both Mugabe and Tsvangirai left the stage, almost simultaneously. It posed a dangerous situation for democracy, especially for the MDC, an institution founded on the basis of “democratic change”.

When Nelson Chamisa, now leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), stormed into MDC leadership following Tsvangirai’s death in February 2018, the charismatic politician violated the constitution.

The battle spilled into the courts. Chamisa adopted personal-rule tradition as he handpicked some leaders and candidates for the March 26 by-elections. Without doubt, Chamisa failed to change the politics of personality cultism; he didn’t strengthen political party institutionalisation and de-personalisation.

The CCC leader, for now, has not convinced me as a genuine democrat. He has not imbued the CCC with the basic tenets of democracy, judging by the raging debate about his plans to duck a congress.

CCC supporters do not tolerate opposing voices. But the authoritarian leadership style adopted by Chamisa is a threat to democracy, especially by someone whose persona has been propped up as liberal. This deserves scrutiny.

Prominent human rights lawyer Musa Kika recently wrote extensively about the need to guard democracy, in an article titled, Guarding democracy jealously – institutions and people power published in the Zimbabwe Independent.

“Democracy is hard work. It works and manifests for the vigilant. To those who slumber, they realise how soon and fast it can slither, for autocracy comes much more naturally to humans than democracy,” Kika argued.

“That is the danger of slumber in democracy. Humans, so long as they are human, will always be self-serving, will always be intoxicated with power, and will always pursue self over collective.”

We hope the goings on at the CCC are not an ugly manifestation of authoritarianism. We hope it’s not the dearth of democracy and a deadly threat to constitutionalism.

However, this doesn’t suggest that new alternatives are not viable to choose party leadership. But what is worrying is that CCC hasn’t availed its constitution and how it plans to elect party leaders.

Zanu PF religiously holds elective congresses every five years, according to its constitution. The MDC under Tsvangirai held elections.

CCC, as a new political movement, can craft new ways to elect its leaders. Not all parties in all democratic societies do congresses.

CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere argued in an article carried in this publication that they were introducing a new way of doing things. She told the Zimbabwe Independent that: “We urge the citizens not to expect old ways from these new wineskins. We commit to doing things differently. Expect the new.

“What this means is that the old processes that have punctuated our politics in the past, including Soviet-style congresses, anti-democratic structures, and unnecessary divisions are a thing of the past.”

Mahere said the CCC is introducing citizens-led and grassroots-driven decision-making processes.

According to Britannica, democracy is rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek dēmokratia, which was coined from dēmos (“people”) and kratos (“rule”) in the middle of the 5th Century to denote the political systems then existing in some Greek city-states, notably Athens.

It was developed to deal with accumulation and misuse of power by humans, who claimed super stature and Godly ordination.

It has universal appeal because it best reconciles the core human values of freedom and equality.

Maybe alarm bells should not start ringing as yet. The CCC as a new political baby, we are watching to see how it is going to handle its processes of electing leaders and drafting the party constitution.

The CCC holds itself up as a democratic alternative. The argument that Zanu PF and others have not been adhering to their party constitutional demands does not hold water.

We must see the difference in CCC. The new kid on the block can adopt a different way to choose leadership.

But it must quickly ensure that its members and potential supporters’ fears are allayed by communicating how leadership selection will be handled. Transparency is key.

While Zimbabwe is not a normal democracy, political parties should not threaten democracy, especially those posing as alternatives to Zanu PF hegemony.

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