From rebel movement to political party: UNITA's social engagement in post-war Angola
The endurance and indeed the growing electoral support manifested by the Angolan opposition party UNITA since its defeat as an armed movement in 2002 defies generally gloomy prognoses both for opposition parties in dominant party systems and for defeated rebel movements that recast themselves as political parties. This article examines social service and training projects implemented by UNITA in the Angolan Central Highlands. I argue that the case of UNITA illustrates the need to take into account the importance of resources that accrue outside of the space of formal politics, including historical narratives and social relationships, which UNITA has mobilized and built upon in order to expand its vote share and consolidate its place within electoral politics.
A graduate of the University of Cape Town, Justin Pearce worked as a journalist in South Africa, the UK and Angola before completing his doctorate at Oxford on mobilisation and political identity in the Angolan civil war. His book, Political Conflict and Identity in Central Angola, is published by Cambridge University Press. He subsequently was an ESRC postdoctoral fellow at SOAS and a Leverhulme early career fellow at Cambridge. Justin is currently a lecturer in African Politics at Cambridge, and his current research is on post-war politics in Angola and Mozambique.