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Constitution of the African National Congress
(South Africa)

January 1958

1. NAME:

The name of the organisation shall be the African National Congress hereinafter
referred to as the "Congress".

2. AIMS AND OBJECTS:

The aims and objects of the Congress shall be:

  1. To unite the African people in a powerful and effective instrument to secure
    their own complete liberation from all forms of discrimination and national
    oppression.
  2. To promote and protect the interests of the African people in all matters
    affecting them.
  3. To strive for the attainment of universal adult suffrage and the creation
    of a united democratic South Africa on the principles outlined in the Freedom
    Charter.
  4. To support the cause of national liberation and the right to independence
    of nations in Africa and the rest of the world.

3. MEMBERSHIP:

  1. Membership of the Congress shall be open to any person over the age of
    18, who accepts its principles, policy and programme and is prepared to
    abide by its constitution and rules.
  2. Any person desiring to be a member of the Congress shall apply to the secretary
    of the nearest branch or to any member of the Congress authorised to receive
    application fol membership. Such secretary or member shall immediately submit
    the application for consideration by the local branch committee, or in the
    absence of a branch committee, such application shall be made to the provincial
    secretary who shall refer it to the provincial executive committee within
    whose jurisdiction the applicant resides.
  3. The branch committee or provincial executive committee, as the case may
    be, shall have power to accept or refuse any application for membership
    submitted to it, provided that the acceptance or refusal of any application
    by any organ of the Congress shall be subject to review by the next higher
    organ.
  4. Upon any application for membership being granted by a branch committee
    or provincial executive committee, a membership card, signed by the Treasurer-General
    and endorsed by the secretary of such branch or provincial secretary, as
    the case may be, shall, on payment of the prescribed subscription and subject
    to the result of any review instituted in terms of sub-clause (c) above,
    be issued to the applicant.

4. ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE:

The Congress shall consist of the following organs:

  1. The National Conference, which elects the National Executive Committees.
  2. The Provincial Conferences, which elect the provincial Executive Committees.
  3. The Regional conference which elects regional committees.
  4. The branch meetings, which elect a branch committee.

5. DECISIONS:

Subject to the rules and regulations of Congress:

  1. Decisions of the National Conference and those of the National Executive
    Committee shall be binding on all members and lower organs of Congress;
  2. Decisions of a provincial conference and those of the provincial executive
    committee shall be binding on all members and lower organs of the Congress
    in the particular province concerned;
  3. Decisions of a regional committee shall be binding on those members and
    lower organs of the Congress in the particular province concerned;
  4. Decisions of a regional committee shall be binding on those members and
    lower organs of the Congress whose branches are constituent parts of that
    regional committee;
  5. Decision of a branch meeting and of a branch committee shall be binding
    on all members and generally;
  6. Decisions of the majority shall be binding on all members and those of
    higher organs shall be binding on lower organs

6. RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF MEMBERS:

  1. RIGHTS: A member shall have the right:
    1. To take part in the discussion and formulation of the policy of the
      Congress;
    2. To criticise any official or decision of the Congress; such criticism
      shall be made to members of Congress or at a properly convened meeting
      of the members of the Congress;
    3. To take part in the elections and to be elected to any committee, commission
      or delegation of the Congress; and
    4. To submit proposals or statements to his branch and to his provincial
      executive committee
  2. DUTIES: A member shall have the duty:
    1. To take an active part in the work of his branch;
    2. To understand thoroughly and to carry out the policy, aims and programme
      of Congress;
    3. To raise the level of his understanding of the political, economic
      and social problems of South Africa;
    4. To explain the policy and programme of the Congress to the people;
    5. To combat any propaganda which is detrimental to the interests of the
      Congress;
    6. To observe discipline and to submit loyally to the decision of the
      majority or to decisions of the higher committee; and
    7. To inform his branch committee before leaving his area, and to report
      to the branch secretary of the area to which he has moved.

7. AUXILIARY BODIES:

  1. WOMEN`S LEAGUE

    Women who are members shall enjoy equality of status in the Congress and
    shall be entitled to join ordinary branches and take part in elections for
    and be elected to any position or office in the Congress. However in order
    to arouse the interest and assist the widespread organisation of women,
    there shall be established an auxiliary organisation to be known as the
    African National Congress Women`s League. The League shall:

    1. Be under the political direction and control of the Congress and shall
      follow the policy and programme of the Congress;
    2. Recruit and organise the African women into a strong organisation which
      shall act as an auxiliary force to the Congress in the struggle for
      national liberation;
    3. Take up special problems and issues affecting women;
    4. Carry on propaganda against apartheid and discriminatory laws among
      African women;
    5. Be entitled to have its own rules and regulations provided that these
      shall not be in conflict with the policy of Congress.
  2. ORGANISATION FOR YOUTHS

    For the purpose of drawing the youths into the struggle and preparing
    them for leadership, the Congress shall organise the African youths into
    an organisation for youths to be known as the African National Congress
    Youth League, which shall be open to any person whose age does not exceed
    30 years provided that such person shall upon reaching the qualification
    for Congress membership become a registered member of Congress subject to
    all the privileges and obligations of Congress membership in addition to
    such special privilege and duties of a member of the Youth League. The League
    shall:

    1. Mobilise the African youth and mould their political and social outlook
      in accordance with the Congress principles;
    2. Promote social and cultural activities among the young people;
    3. Popularise the policy, programme and decisions of the Congress among
      the youth; and
    4. The provisions of Clause 7, A, (c), shall mutatis mutandis apply to
      the Youth League.

8. NATIONAL CONFERENCE:

The National Conference shall be the Supreme ruling and controlling body in
Congress. It shall:

  1. Consist of delegates from the branches of the Congress elected by branch
    general meetings on the basis of one delegate for every 20 members; provided
    that the number of delegates from any branch shall not exceed 10; provided
    further that members of the National Executive Committee may attend ex-officio
    and shall have the right to speak and vote;
  2. Be held once a year; provided that Special National Conferences may be
    convened by the National Executive Committee at its own instance at such
    times as it may deem fit, and shall be convened upon requisitions addressed
    to it by not less than two provincial conferences.

9. DUTIES AND POWER OF THE ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE:

The National Conference shall.

  1. Decide and determine the policy and programme of the Congress;
  2. Receive and discuss the reports of the National Executive which shall include
    the Presidential address and the Treasurer-General`s report, the Provincial
    Executive Committee`s reports, the African National Congress Women`s League
    report;
  3. Lay down the basic principle and policy, examine and where necessary, revise
    the programme and constitution of the Congress;
  4. Have the right and power to review, ratify, alter or veto any decision
    taken by any of its constituent bodies or unity of the Congress;
  5. Elect the President-General, the Deputy President, the Secretary-General,
    the Treasurer-General and eight other National Executive Committee members,
    who shall hold office for three years and be eligible for re-election. Nomination
    shall be by delegates at the Conference; and elections of all officials
    and members of the National Executive Committee shall be by ballot;
  6. Have the power to elect or appoint any Commission or committee and assign
    specific tasks and duties to such Commission or committee.

10. NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE:

The National Executive Committee, which is elected by the National Conference
once every three years, shall:

  1. Consist of the President-General, the Deputy President-General, the Treasurer-General,
    eight other members, the provincial presidents and secretaries of the Congress
    or their respective deputies, and the national presidents or national secretaries
    of the African National Congress Woman`s League and the African National
    Congress Youth League, who shall be ex-officio members of the National Executive
    Committee;
  2. Meet on the day of its election to appoint the National Headquarters, the
    National Speaker, the Deputy National Speaker, the National Chaplain and
    shall thereafter meet at least twice a year. The National Speaker, the Deputy
    National Speaker and the National Chaplain need not be appointed from among
    members of the National Executive Committee;
  3. Appoint from amongst its members the National Working Committee of not
    less than seven persons residing within a radius of fifty (50) miles of
    the National Headquarters;
  4. Appoint the National Organising Secretary;
  5. Carry out the decisions and instructions of the National Conference;
  6. Issue and send directives and instructions to and demand and receive reports
    from the provincial committees, regional committees and branches;
  7. Supervise, direct and control the work of the Congress generally;
  8. Be responsible for ensuring that provincial committees and other committees
    of the Congress discharge their duties and functions properly and efficiently;
  9. Supervise the work of the auxiliary bodies;
  10. Manage and control all the national property and funds of the Congress;
  11. Submit annual reports to the National Conference;
  12. Do all things necessary in furtherance of the policy and programme of the
    Congress.

11. NATIONAL WORKING COMMITTEE:

The National Working Committee is a sub-committee of the National Executive
Committee. It shall:

  1. Meet as provided for in the rules and regulations;
  2. Carry out decisions and instructions of the National Conference and the
    National Executive Committee;
  3. Conduct the current work of the Congress and ensure that the provinces,
    regions and branches carry out decisions and instructions of the Congress;
  4. Issue propaganda and educational material to the provinces; and
  5. Submit a report to every National Executive Committee meeting.

12. DUTIES AND FUNCTIONS OF OFFICIALS:

  1. President-General:

    The President-General is the head and chief directing officer of the Congress
    and the leader of the house in a National Conference. He shall:

    1. Present to the Annual Conference a comprehensive statement of the state
      of the nation and the political situation generally;
    2. Make pronouncements for and on behalf of the National Executive Committee
      outlining and explaining the policy or attitude of the Congress on any
      question;
    3. Presiding over meetings of the National Executive Committee and conduct
      the business in conformity with the Constitution, bye-laws and rules
      of procedure adopted by the National Executive Committee;
    4. Be an ex-officio member of the National Working Committee; and
    5. Have a casting vote only
  2. Deputy President-General:

    The Deputy President-General shall assist the President-General and deputise
    for him whenever necessary.

  3. Secretary-General:

    The Secretary-General is the chief administrative officer of the Congress.
    He shall:

    1. Keep the minutes of the National Conference, the National Executive
      Committee and the National Working Committee, as well as other records
      of the Congress;
    2. Conduct the correspondence of the National Executive Committee and
      the National Working Committee and send out notices of all conferences,
      National Executive and National Working Committee meetings;
    3. Convey the decisions and instructions of the National Conference, the
      National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee to the
      Provincial Committees, regional committees and shall see to it that
      all units of the Congress carry out their duties properly; and
    4. Prepare yearly reports on the work of the National Executive Committee
      and the National Working Committee and such other documents which may
      from time to time be required by the National Executive Committee and
      the National Working Committee.
  4. Treasurer-General:

    The Treasurer-General is the chief custodian of the funds and property
    of the Congress. He shall:

    1. Receive and bank all monies on behalf of the National Executive Committee,
      and shall, together with any two National Executive members, operate
      a banking account;
    2. Keep such books of account as may be necessary to record clearly the
      financial position of Congress;
    3. Submit annually to the National Conference a report showing the Income
      and Expenditure Account and the Balance sheet of the Congress for the
      past year, and shall submit periodical reports to the National Executive
      Committee and the National Working Committee; and
    4. Be responsible together with the President-General and the Secretary-General,
      for working out plans and schemes for the raising of funds for the Congress,
      and shall direct and take an active part in a campaign for the raising
      of funds.
  5. National Speaker:

    The National Speaker shall preside over and sign minutes of all National
    conferences. In his absence the Deputy Speaker shall preside at such Conference.

  6. National Chaplain:

    The National Chaplain shall lead the delegates in prayer at National Conferences
    and shall conduct the National Service or otherwise provide spiritual leadership
    for the organisation.

  7. National Organising Secretary:

    It shall be the duty of the National Organising Secretary acting in consultation
    with and under the direction of the Secretary-General to organise the Congress
    nationally and to strengthen the organisational machinery throughout.

13. PROVINCE:

For organisational purposes the country shall be divided into provinces. A
province shall be determined and defined by the Congress.

14. PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE:

The Provincial Conference shall:

  1. Be the highest organ, subject to Clause 8 and 10, of the Congress in each
    Province;
  2. Be held annually in each province. Special provincial conferences may be
    convened at such times as the Provincial Committee may deem fit, and shall
    be convened upon the requisition addressed to the Provincial Executive Committee
    by at least one-third of all branches or one Regional Committee;
    1. Delegates from local branches of the Congress in the province who shall
      be elected by local branch meetings on the basis of one delegate for
      every twenty members, provided that no branch shall be represented by
      more than 10 delegates, shall attend;
    2. Members of the Provincial Executive Committee who shall attend ex-officio
      and shall have the right to speak and vote;
  3. Carry out the decisions and instructions of the National Conference, the
    National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee;
  4. Receive and consider reports submitted by the Provincial Executive Committee;
  5. Elect the Provincial President, Secretary, Treasurer and eight other members
    of the Provincial Executive Committee; and
  6. Carry out the policy and programme of the Congress in the Province.

15. PROVINCIAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE:

The Provincial Executive Committee which is elected annually by the Provincial
Conference shall be the administrative body of the Provincial Conference. It
shall:

  1. Consist of the Provincial President, the Provincial Vice-President, the
    Provincial Secretary, the Provincial, Treasurer, the Provincial President
    or Secretary of the African National Congress Women`s League and the African
    National Congress Youth League, and eight other members of the Provincial
    Committee;
  2. Meet on the day of its election to elect the Provincial Working Committee,
    and shall thereafter meet at least once every three months;
  3. Carry out the decisions and instructions of the Provincial Conference and
    the National Executive Committee or the National Working Committee;
  4. Manage and control the funds and property of the Congress in the Province;
  5. Submit reports to the National Executive as often as required on the state
    of organisation, the financial position of the province and such other matters
    as may be specified;
  6. Appoint the Provincial Organiser, the Provincial Speaker and the Provincial
    Chaplain, all who need not be members of the Provincial Executive Committee;
  7. Organise and establish branches and Regions in the Province;
  8. Enforce the constitution of the Congress in the Province;
  9. Give members of the Congress in the Province political education; and
  10. Carry out the policy and programme of the Congress and do all things necessary
    to further the interests, aims and objects of the Congress.

16. PROVINCIAL WORKING COMMITTEE:

The Provincial Working Committee is the sub-committee of the Provincial Executive
Committee. It shall consist of not less than seven members who reside within
a radius of 100 miles of the Provincial Headquarters, and shall:

  1. Perform the duties and functions of the Provincial Executive Committee;
    and
  2. Submit reports to the Provincial Executive Committee.

17. DUTIES AND FUNCTIONS OF PROVINCIAL OFFICIALS:

With the exception of Clause 7, provisions of Section 12 shall, with necessary
alteration of detail apply to the duties and functions of the provincial officials
of the Congress.

18. REGION:

Any three or more branches in a given area may, for the purpose of co-ordination
of activities and better organisational efficiency, be formed into a region
at the instance of the Provincial Executive Committee, by at least two branches
within an area of a proposed region.

19. REGIONAL COMMITTEE:

Whenever a region has been established the branch executive of such region
shall at a properly convened meeting, elect a regional committee, which shall
consist of a Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, two members, and a member from
each branch within the region.

The duty of the Regional Committee shall be:

  1. To meet as provided for in the rules and regulations;
  2. To co-ordinate the work and activities of the constituent branches and
    submit reports to the Provincial Executive Committee; and
  3. To see to the implementation of the instructions of the National Executive
    Committee, Provincial Executive Committee or the Provincial Working Committee.

20. BRANCHES:

  1. The basic unit of organisation in the Congress shall be the branch;
  2. The branch shall consist of a minimum of twenty members, provided that
    the National Executive Committee or Provincial Executive Committee may establish
    a provisional committee as provided by the rules and regulations;
  3. Every new branch shall apply to the Provincial Executive Committee for
    registration;
  4. The branch shall:
    1. Meet as provided for in the rules and regulations;
    2. Elect at an annual branch general meeting, a branch Chairman, Secretary,
      Treasurer and six other branch committee members.

21. BRANCH COMMITTEE:

The branch committee shall:

  1. Meet on the day of its election to elect the branch sub-committee and thereafter
    shall meet as provided for in the rules and regulations;
  2. Carry out propaganda and organisational work among the people in its area
    in pursuance of the policy, programme and decisions of the Congress;
  3. Build and increase the numerical and political strength of the Congress
    within its area;
  4. Submit reports on its work to the branch meeting, to the Regional Committee
    periodically as provided in the rules and regulations and to the Provincial
    Executive Committee every quarter; and
  5. Carry out such instructions as may from time to time be issued by the Provincial
    Committee or the Provincial Working Committee.

22. CONGRESS FUNDS:

  1. The basic membership subscription for Congress shall be two shillings and
    sixpence (2s. 6d.);
  2. All subscriptions shall be payable in advance;
  3. The National Executive Committee may impose a national levy on all members
    of the Congress and all such money derived from a national levy shall be
    paid into the national treasury;
  4. The Provincial Executive Committee may with the prior approval of and subject
    to such conditions as may be laid down by the National Executive Committee,
    impose levies on all members of the Congress in their respective provinces.
    All money from Provincial levies shall be paid into the provincial treasuries;
  5. All levies, national and provincial, shall be for stated periods and specific
    amounts;
  6. The branch Treasurer shall pay to the Provincial Treasurer and National
    Treasurer respectively, one third of the total subscriptions;
  7. The Provincial Executive Committee shall pay to the National Executive
    Committee an agreed proportion of all money received by them through donations,
    collections, concerts, functions, etc;
  8. Proper records shall be kept of all money received and expended by branch
    committees, regional committees, Provincial Executive Committees and the
    National Executive Committee.

23. DISCIPLINE:

  1. A branch committee, Regional, Provincial and National Executive Committee
    shall have power to reprimand, suspend, expel or take any other disciplinary
    action against a member for breach of the Constitution or conduct detrimental
    to the interests of the Congress or the African people;
  2. Any higher organ of the Congress shall have power to investigate reprimand,
    re-organise, suspend, dissolve, dismiss or take any other appropriate disciplinary
    action against any lower organ under its jurisdiction for breach of the
    Constitution or conduct detrimental to the interests of the Congress or
    the African people;
  3. Before any disciplinary action is taken against any member or organ in
    terms of clause (a) and/or clause (b) of this section (section 23), such
    member or organ shall, in the absence of extraordinary circumstances justifying
    the contrary, be given an opportunity to appear before the relevant tribunal
    and there admit, deny or otherwise account for the conduct complained of;
  4. Any member or body of members against whom disciplinary action has been
    taken by any organ of the Congress, shall have the right to appeal to the
    next higher organ and the National Conference shall be the final court of
    appeal;
  5. When a member is suspended, the committee suspending him shall state the
    period and conditions of such suspension;
  6. A member who fails to pay his subscription for a period of six months and
    who does not pay his subscription after he has been personally spoken to
    about the matter, by a representative of his branch committee, shall be
    lapsed from membership;
  7. All cases of suspension, dismissal, expulsion or dissolution by way of
    disciplinary action shall be fully reported to the Provincial Executive
    Committee and the National Executive Committee;
  8. No case of expulsion by a branch or region shall be published in the press
    without the consent of the Provincial Executive Committee.

24. QUORUM:

  1. A third of all members shall form a quorum;
  2. Fifteen members or 50 per cent of the branch membership, whichever is the
    lesser, shall form a quorum of all meetings of a local branch:
  3. Delegates from 40 per cent of the total number of branches in a province
    shall form a quorum for all provincial conferences;
  4. In the case of a National Conference, delegates from two provinces, representing
    at least thirty-three-and-one-third per cent of the total membership of
    the Congress, shall constitute a quorum.

25. VACANCIES:

The office of any member of a committee of the Congress shall be vacated by
resignation, suspension, expulsion or absence from meetings for a period prescribed
in the rules and regulations.

26. RULES AND REGULATIONS:

  1. The National Executive shall have the power to frame rules and regulations
    relating to the control and administration of the affairs of the Congress;
  2. Each Provincial Executive Committee may frame rules and regulations for
    the conduct and management of the affairs of Congress organisation within
    its jurisdiction, provided that any rules and regulations so framed shall
    not become operative until they have been approved by the National Executive
    Committee;
  3. Rules and regulations framed in terms of clause (a) and clause (b) of this
    section (section 26), shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this
    constitution

27. AMENDMENT OF CONSTITUTION;

This Constitution may be amended by resolution passed by a two- thirds majority
of the delegates present and voting at a National Conference. Notice of such
a resolution shall be submitted in writing to the Secretary-General not later
than six months before the date of the National Conference. The National Executive
Committee shall circulate all proposed amendments to the Constitution to the
Provincial Executive Committees and all branches of the Congress at least two
months before the National Conference.

28. GENERAL:

The Congress shall have perpetual succession and power, apart from its individual
members, to acquire, hold and alienate property, enter into agreements and do
all things necessary to carry out its aims and objects.

(Signed) A.J. LUTULI - PRESIDENT-GENERAL

(Signed) O.R. TAMBO - SECRETARY-GENERAL

AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

(SOUTH AFRICA)

January, 1958