‘Zim needs fresh pressure groups’

EMERGING social movements must build social and political power by having structures and formulate concrete demands that can be articulated nationally than in small spaces, a local think-tank has said.

Source: ‘Zim needs fresh pressure groups’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 14, 2017


The Institute of Public Affairs Zimbabwe, in its latest publication Marching From the Deep End: Coalitions and Nervous Reformers in Zimbabwe’s Quick Sand Political Terrain, said civil society needed to be re-organised after the leading national groups such as trade unions, students’ bodies and other pressure groups lost their way by associating with the opposition.

“Civil society and social movements must liberate themselves from the parochialism of thinking that they can make impact through sectarianism; personal fiefdoms and avoid being blinded by some form of ‘technicism’, which avoids building social and political power,” the institute said.

The think-tank said the organisations should have a national structure and presence than being confined to limited geographical areas for them to have maximum impact.

“To deal with this weakness decisively, the civil society and these emerging social movements (Tajamuka/Sesijikile, #ThisFlag, etc) must begin a process of building concrete demands. These can then be developed over the next few months culminating in some form of a national assembly of sorts, which articulates these demands nationally,” it added.

It further noted that these movements could form themselves into formidable institutions that could influence both the pre and post-2018 election periods.

The institute said civil society’s alliance with the opposition killed its growth and momentum.

“The political power of the ZCTU, [Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions] Zinasu [Zimbabwe National Students’ Union], the women’s movement and NCA [National Constitutional Assembly] were partly swallowed by the MDC, but once that was accomplished, a glaring gap has emerged in the civil society terrain. While some civil society and some contentious ‘new’ social movements continue reshaping social and political terrain, there is no evidence of a ‘national-popular’ movement,” it said.

The labour unions have fallen victim to the vagaries of the changing economic landscape since 2000, while NCA transformed itself into an opposition political party.

“ZCTU and its political power, which shifted the political terrain in the 1990s, has disappeared mainly because of de-industrialisation and informalisation, but also internal contradictions,” the think-tank said.


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