Zimbabwe Lobby Group Becomes Political Party
After 16 years as a constitutional lobby group, Zimbabwe’s National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) took steps this week to become a new political party, according to a report in Africa Topics.
Lovemore Madhuku, the group’s chairperson, became the party’s interim leader. A party congress to choose its leader will convene in March, the report said.
Formed as a non-governmental organisation in 1997, NCA started as a group of individual Zimbabwean citizens and civic organisations including, labor movements, student and youth groups, women groups, churches, business groups and human rights organisations.
It has historically close ties with the Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party in the Zimbabwe House of Assembly, according to online sources. NCA saw the constitution as particularly problematic in that it allowed the president too much power, as well as it being a product of the outgoing British colonial administration, where several clauses have expired.
With structures already in place in all of the country’s 210 constituencies, the group will make a bigger impact as a party, said NCA spokesperson Blessing Vava in the Africa Topics report.
“The party will probably get some support, but I don’t think it can defeat Zanu-PF (ruling party in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, led by Robert Mugabe),” said political analyst Dumisani Nkomo. “What would be ideal is for the parties to unite and tackle Zanu-PF as a united front. The NCA will only serve to further fragment the opposition, because it is likely to eat into the MDC’s support base.”
Alexander Rusero, a political commentator and lecturer at Harare Polytechnic College, was less positive, saying Madhuku’s party would not make any significant impact. The NCA should have remained a pressure group, he said.
Analysts are expected to have a lot more to say when NCA becomes an official party.