There has never been a grouping known as the Civic. But there has always been an alliance called the PPP/Civic. And there has not been, it seems, until now any confusion or contradiction between the nonexistence of an entity called the Civic and the PPP’s alliance with a Civic.
The explanation is quite simple. The PPP in the run-up to the 1992 elections forged an alliance with individuals who were outside of the party. It did not forge an alliance with a group called the Civic. These individuals in turn never coalesced themselves into any organization or grouping. We therefore have an alliance between the PPP and individuals and this alliance is what the PPP referred to as PPP/Civic.
Perhaps an understanding of the evolution of this Civic will better place the things into perspective. In the run-up to the 1992 elections, there were talks within the Patriotic Coalition for Democracy (PCD) about a joint program. This later boiled down to talks/negotiations for a joint slate. But while these talks were taking place within the PCD, other plans were being hatched elsewhere to ensure the collapse of these talks. And collapse they did.
The PPP, which was desirous of entering those elections on a united platform, decided to conceive of a civic alliance with its party by bringing on board its slate a number of individuals, which in the words of the late General Secretary of the party was intended to give ethnic and class balance to the slate it was fielding for the elections.
After the elections, the PPP was again interested in forming a government comprised of personalities from outside of the government, but it was not interested in any alliance with any party.
The PPP has never held out that the PPP/Civic was an alliance with any organized group. The PPP/Civic have always been about the PPP and individuals from outside of the party.
Those persons who the party co-opted as part of its slate also never were able to coalesce into any grouping. They hardly could have been said to have been representing any major constituencies and this obviously made it even more difficult to formalize themselves into any organized force. Their influence for all intents and purposes was limited to their personal appeal and whatever persuasive powers they could achieve over the PPP leadership.
Throughout the eighteen years of the PPP/Civic, the management organs of the party, namely the Central Committee and the Executive Committee, have continued to meet as per their original intentions. There may have been meetings between the civic personalities and the party, but these were never structured discussions in the sense of the civic organizing itself as a partner and willing to negotiate positions with the PPP.
Since 1992, the PPP has been reaching out to individuals outside of the party and encouraging them to join the party to create almost the same sort of balance that they were seeking in 1992. A number of persons of African descent have joined the party and the business class, which had ignored the party while it was in the political wilderness, had penetrated its tentacles deep into the party.
The PPP now no longer needs a Civic component. The Civic is not taken seriously and the failure of the Civic members to organize themselves as a grouping makes them unable to exercise the sort of influence that would make them a force to be recognized.
As such the Civic members are there at the pleasure of the party.
That is likely to change come next year since the party may wish to show that it has evolved to the state whereby instead of being a vanguard party of the working class, it is now a party with a board cross section of members and with leaders drawn from all ethnicities and classes.
We may therefore finally see the PPP retiring the Civic in place for persons of similar qualifications emerging out of the party’s woodwork.
This may be the great shock that the opposition parties may have to contend with, because while some of them are anxious for an alliance, the PPP is likely to show how far it has evolved since 1992, to the extent where it can safely say “bye, bye” to the Civic, and whatever it stood for all these years.
If after 18 years, the PPP is unable to convince Sam Hinds and Odinga Lumumba and all the other civic personalities to join the PPP, then the PPP must consider itself a failure.
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