Lone organizers: opposition party-building in hostile places in Tanzania

Daniel Paget* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


I ask where African opposition parties organize. Party-building is communicative; it involves persuading people to become activists. The literature suggest that opposition parties organize where people are receptive to their messages and build outwards from there. I study Chadema’s opposition party-building through site-intensive fieldwork. Chadema organized primarily in such
receptive areas, but also in four unreceptive constituencies. I use these deviant constituencies to refine the literature. Prior theory neglects the heterogeneity of party-building. I decompose party building into three modes: by touring leaders, branches and concentrating leaders. Concentrating leaders dedicate their organizing to single places. They employ small rallies which afford interactive, individualized and iterative communication. This personalized communication enables them to overcome initial unreceptiveness to their messages. I conclude that opposition parties can organize in unreceptive areas, but only through the personalized methods of these “lone organizers.” Altogether, I show how and through whom opposition parties organize in hostile environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-235
Number of pages13
JournalParty Politics
Issue number2
Early online date22 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Thanks to all those that assisted me during my field research. I owe special gratitude to all the candidates and party activists that welcomed me to their campaigns in 2015. I am especially grateful to Benson Kigaila, Jesca Kishoa, Susan Kiwanga, Tundu Lissu, Joseph Mbilinyi, Fanuel Mkisi, Jon Mrema, Babila Shilogela, David Silinde and all those others who afforded me so much of their
time during and since Chadema’s 2015 campaign, under such difficult circumstances. Thanks to Deogratias Munishi, who not only afforded me such time in the field, but provided comments on an earlier draft of the paper. Thanks to Michaela Collord, who reviewed an earlier draft of this paper. Thanks to the two anonymous reviewers for their feedback, which greatly improved the
paper. Thanks to the editors of the special issue, Sarah Lockwood, Robert Mattes, Matthias Krönke, and Jeremy Seekings. Special thanks to Nic Cheeseman, who supervised my doctorate and has been a constant source of inspiration and support. Special thanks to my research assistants, who with to remain anonymous. Any remaining errors are my own


  • Opposition parties
  • party-building
  • personalized communication
  • political geography
  • African politics


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