2007 ANC National Policy Conference: Report of the Commission on Strategy and Tactics
30 June 2007, Gallagher Estate
- All the 12 Commissions had comprehensive and quite lively debate on the major conceptual issues that were identified for discussion. These are:
- monopoly capital and the NDR
- developmental state and social democracy
- strategic Alliance
- globalisation and imperialism
- what was characterised as the white community and counter-revolution
- practically addressing gender
add as the first point. strengthen the ANC as the leader?
- Some of the Commissions were able to deal with other issues in the S&T document, and have made concrete proposals in this regard.
- All Commissions proceeded from understanding that matters of detail contained in submissions from provinces, YL and WL (as well as comments from SACP, COSATU, DPSA and others) would be taken into account when the draft is reworked.
Read with the other Strategy and Tactics Documents?
MAJOR CONCEPTUAL ISSUES
Monopoly Capital and the NDR
- There was agreement in all Commissions that there were fundamental areas of divergence between the objectives and value systems of the ANC and those of monopoly capital. In particular, there are many things in the behaviour of private monopolies that have the effect of constraining higher rates of growth and skewing social development. These include monopoly pricing and other forms of rent-seeking, placing barriers to entry in some industries and a value system based on greed and crass materialism.
- However to characterise monopoly capital as an enemy of the NDR would be too simplistic. Rather our approach, as elaborated in the draft S&T document, should be to build a strong developmental state, with the strategic capacity and the instruments to deal with these negative tendencies, while at the same time mobilising private capital in general to partner the state in increasing rates of investment and job-creation. Further, the centrality of finance capital in the structure of the South African economy, and its capacity to hinder economic development should be underlined.
- Virtually all the Commissions agreed with the approach of 'unity and struggle' - carrot and stick - in relation to all private capital, proceeding from the understanding, as one Commission put it, that 'unity and struggle' existed among opposites that may have to co-exist. The balance between unity and struggle would be dictated by the needs of the moment; and it would be influenced by the practical conduct of the various fractions of monopoly capital. The draft will need to be sharpened taking into account many other detailed comments from the Commissions on this issue.
Developmental state and social democracy
- There was broad consensus on the need to build a developmental state, with specific South African characteristics that take into account the evolution and current economic structure and social dynamics of South African society. In addition to what is contained in the draft, such a state should have attributes and tasks that include:
7.1 capacity to intervene in the economy in the interest of higher rates of growth and development
7.2 effecting interventions that address challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment
7.3 mobilising the people as a whole, especially the poor, to act as their own liberators through participatory and representative democracy.
- In broad terms, it was agreed that we needed to build democracy with social content.
- Most Commissions felt that the S&T should place more emphasis on the substance of our objectives, before attempting to identify approximations used in global parlance such as developmental state and social democracy. Further, these concepts should not be formulated in such a way as to suggest a policy or ideological shift on the part of the movement. We can borrow best traditions from other countries' experiences; but we should not suggest that these are defining characteristics of the ANC.
- It is also proposed that discussion on these concepts should continue in the period leading up to National Conference. With regard to social democracy in particular, it was proposed that discussion should seek to identify best traditions such as intense role of the state in economic life, quest for equality, promotion of solidarity throughout the world, pursuit of full employment and maintenance of alliance between social democratic parties and the trade union movement.
- All Commissions were unanimous that the Tripartite Alliance continued to be an objective necessity in the current phase of the NDR. It was also agreed that, in the context of the execution of the NDR, the ANC is the leader of the Alliance.
- While it was agreed that the S&T document needed to deal with the issue of the Alliance at the level of broad principle, many of the Commissions felt that the formulations needed to be sharpened, taking into account how this issue was articulated in the 1997 S&T document as well as the opening address to the Policy Conference by the President. This should include explanation of the meaning of 'strategic alliance' as distinct from a 'tactical coalition'.
- Many of the Commissions reflected in detail on issues of the current challenges facing the Alliance, a matter that was taken forward in the discussions on the Organisational Review.
- On the question of the place and role of SANCO, all the Commissions agreed that SANCO constituted part of the progressive broad democratic movement for transformation. All but one of the Commissions felt that it should not be categorised as being part of the strategic alliance.
Globalisation and imperialism
- The Commissions were at one that the ANC needed to come up with its own understanding of global reality, including as accurate a reading of the global balance of forces as is possible. In this regard, we should avoid taking too romantic or too dim a view of developments in other parts of the world.
- In this regard, questions were raised about whether we were not exaggerating the strength of US economic and military power. New powerful economies including China, India, Russia and Brazil are emerging; the agenda of neo-conservative forces is being challenged; the dispersal of production across the globe is creating mutual dependencies; there are progressive developments in a number of Latin American countries; and there is an upsurge of public opinion against the negative consequences of globalisation. These and other comments and submissions will be used to improve the Chapter as a whole.
- Further, it was felt that the draft did not adequately address global challenges that include:
17.1 the role of financial markets and the speed with which capital flows across domestic markets
17.2 environmental issues including depletion of natural resources including 'peak oil' and issues of global warming, which have placed humanity in great danger of self-destruction
17.3 the impact of unipolarity on global governance and the rule of law in the conduct of international relations.
- A number of Commissions emphasised the need among developing countries to build democratic developmental states and pool their sovereignty. In this regard, South Africa should systematically seek to build strategic partnerships, including the building of a global progressive movement. Further, it was felt that the section dealing with Africa needed to be improved; and that the importance of party-to-party and people-to-people relations should be highlighted.
- Originally, the issue of white South Africans was included in the same category as counter-revolution. Virtually all the Commissions were of the view that this categorisation created a wrong and unfortunate impression that the white community as such was being accused of counter-revolution.
- The issue of the place and role of various sections of the white community needs to be dealt with in the context of the responsibility of the ANC to mobilise all South Africans behind the project of social transformation. This is consistent with the movement's non-racial outlook, and it is about the very strategic objectives of our revolution.
- In dealing with this matter, we should take into account the historical socialisation of this community in the false ideology of racism; as well as conversely the socialisation of black people to consider themselves as inferior. These tendencies need to be combated in the context of the ideological struggle, and in practical efforts to change people's material conditions and ensure equal access to opportunities.
- With regard to the issue of counter-revolution, while there were divergent views among the Commissions on whether there still existed groups that could be classified as such; there was consensus that there were active forces which opposed the agenda of social transformation. The ANC has a responsibility to counter such forces, including those that may burrow within the black community.
- The movement should also exercise vigilance against forces which seek to take advantage of divisions within the democratic movement, in order to subvert and disrupt the agenda of revolutionary change. In this regard, it should be noted that such threats as organised crime and susceptibility of the lumpen-proletariat to recruitment by reactionary forces can have counter-revolutionary implications.
Practically dealing with gender
- The Commissions were unanimous that non-sexism was a core element of the ANC's outlook, value system and approach to issues of social justice. Most of the Commissions agreed that the draft S&T document needed to be fine-tuned in relation to formulations that conflated the notions of patriarchy and gender discrimination.
- On the question of the gender quota system, all the Commissions felt that, while there may be dangers of tokenism in any such system, this could not be used to subtract from the fact that the quota system is a one of the critical instruments for dealing with social exclusion and discrimination. A number of the Commissions proposed that implementation of such a system needed to be combined with the creation of an environment conducive to the advancement of women's emancipation, including targeted skills development.
- On balance, there wasn't a strong view in the Commissions that the issue of the quota system as such needed to be included in the S&T document; but that it should find expression in policy and constitutional decisions of Conference.
- We need to introduce better treatment of the shifting balance of forces and how the nature of the transition impacted on the implementation of our programme of social change.
- We should expressly assert the reality that progressive forces have attained transfer of political power, but economic power remains in the hands of the white minority.
- The importance of the ideological struggle should find expression in various sections of the document.
- Treatment of history should include the role of various contributions across the four pillars of struggle identified then, and the role of youth, women and armed struggle. If the proposal to include the Veterans' League as a formal component of the movement is adopted, this League would need to be included in the Chapter dealing with the role of the ANC.
- There should be consistent application of the notion of 5 pillars of the NDR throughout the document, including in particular, the assessment of the balance of forces and elaboration of the programme of national democratic transformation.
- Greater prominence should be given to the land question.
- The glossary of terms should be improved.
CONCLUSION - PROCESS
- The NEC Political Education Subcommittee should take these and other issues into account when it refines the draft.
- An amended document will be sent to the provinces for further reflection in the build-up to National Conference.