Dismissal of Magaisa’s sentiments regarding Party congresses


Assertions by Kent University Law lecturer, Dr Alex Magaisa that congresses were a political culture inherited from ZANU PF which should not be a mandate for every political party are unfounded. As observed by Professor Jonathan Moyo, to whom Dr Magaisa was responding, “it’s uninformed to say congress is a ZANU PF nomenclature when it’s common across the global ideological divide like US Congress, African National Congress (South Africa) and Congress of China’s Communist Party congress which is an apex gathering or body”.

All the above examples of “Congresses” existed well before the formation of ZANU PF in 1963, and therefore, attributing congresses to ZANU PF is not only misinformed, but blatantly false. Ever since the attainment of independence, major political parties that had a bearing on the national political landscape got their mandate and legitimacy through some kind of a congress. Examples include ZANU PF’s successive congresses preceding all national elections in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2004, 2009, and 2017.  Likewise, the predecessor to Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), MDC and its subsequent identities such as MDC-T and MDC Alliance, also held congresses to elect leaders in 1999,2006,2011,2014 and 2019.

In India, the Indian National Congress political party, which has been in existence since 1885, is hierarchically structured and holds national conferences to elect its leadership. The same also obtains in China where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) holds a party congress every five years as a public avenue for top leadership changes and a formal event for changes to the party’s constitution.

In Zambia, President Hakainde Hichilema, was elected as the presidential candidate to represent the United Parties for National Development (UPND) through an elective General Assembly that was held on 14 February 2021. UPND even threatened to sue the Patriotic Front and block the then ruling party from participating in the 2021 general elections for holding a general conference and not an elective convention ahead of the polls.

It is therefore, clear that globally, party congresses are a necessary platform from which progressive political outfits draw their mandate and legitimacy. They are also a public demonstration of a political party’s internal democracy. Magaisa is clearly struggling to deodorize Chamisa’s dictatorial tendencies and, is in the process, slaying his own credibility as an academic and political analyst.