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National General Council 2005: Consolidated Report on the Strategic Context of the National Democratic Revolution and the State of Organisation

3 July 2005


STRATEGIC CONTEXT OF THE NDR

  1. The broad thrust of the ANC's Strategy and Tactics remains relevant. The strategic objective of the National Democratic Revolution - the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous society based on the vision of the Freedom Charter - remains correct. The ANC is a liberation movement leading a broad range of forces, united behind a common revolutionary programme.

  2. The consolidation of political democracy, the growing electoral strength and support of our movement from 66% in 1999 to 70% in the 2004 elections, the relative stabilisation of the economy, progressive advances made on the African continent towards peace and greater unity, as well as new global developments, have created a new set of opportunities and challenges for our revolution. As we enter the second decade of freedom, it is possible to characterise this as a new phase of the NDR, in which the opportunities for accelerated transformation are greatly improved. This should be confidently articulated in the revised Strategy & Tactics.

  3. These advances have also generated new organisational and political challenges. To realise this potential we must consolidate, deepen and safeguard the unity and cohesion of the ANC and its Alliance. Our immediate task, as we enter this new phase of struggle, is to revitalise, renew and dynamise our organisation, in order to deepen our internal democracy, strengthen our collective leadership and improve the level of our direct contact with the masses of our people in their ongoing struggle for self-emancipation.

  4. In this context, the NGC mandates the NEC to initiate a thorough debate of our Strategy and Tactics document, with a view to amending and revising it at the 52nd National Conference of the ANC.

  5. The commissions of the NGC have raised the following issues that require further development and elaboration in the revised Strategy and Tactics:

    5.1. On the character of the ANC: There is a need to articulate clearly those sets of values and principles that collectively constitute what we have often referred to as the ideology of the ANC. In addition, the unity and cohesion of the movement as a 'disciplined force of the left' needs further elaboration and articulation. Being a 'disciplined force of the left' needs to be an important theme around which to articulate our current and emerging perspectives on various issues.
    5.2. The motive forces: The black working class and the rural masses remain the primary motive forces of the NDR, and our organisation and our programmes must be measured against this reality. The National Democratic Revolution and the ANC must remain biased towards these primary motive forces and should therefore ensure that social and economic programmes continue to be targeted at these forces. While acknowledging other motive forces captured in the current Strategy and Tactics, we should pay particular attention to the fact that one of the critical developments is the emergence of a significant black middle strata. Our challenge is to ensure that the black middle strata, many of whom are active within the liberation movement and the state, understands its role and is organised and mobilised in relation to the developmental tasks we face.
    5.3. The emancipation of women: There is need for a more coherent articulation of our theoretical and practical approach to the question of women's liberation. In particular, we need a proper problem statement in relation to gender oppression and elaborate ways in which we can accelerate the building of a non-sexist society.
    5.4. The mobilisation and development of the youth: There is a need to develop a common strategic perspective on the importance and challenge of youth mobilisation and development as a key question of our revolution.
    5.5. The Developmental State and nation-building: Based on the debates and discussions over the last few years, there should be greater clarity and a more confident assertion of the role and character of the developmental state.
    5.6. Two Economies: Our analysis of the problems of development and underdevelopment, and the challenges emerging from the dual character of our society and economy should be articulated. This should include a consideration of the need to correct the skewed nature of property relations and inequalities in wealth, income and opportunity. This should also include a review of the impact of the current property clause on redressing inherited apartheid property relations.
    5.7. International: The advances towards a peaceful resolution of conflicts on the African continent, as well as our movement's leading role in building greater unity of the Africans on a global stage should be acknowledged and appreciated. On a global scale, the fact that the "Washington Consensus" as a neo-liberal ideological paradigm has come under serious questioning should create more space for progressive and more humane alternatives for the peoples of the world. On the other hand, the new kind of imperialism and unilateralism poses serious threats to the multi-lateral system of global governance. There is need to elaborate our perspective and priorities on these international questions, including the urgent need to transform multilateral institutions.

  6. The issues captured in the 2002 Preface to the Strategy and Tactics should be integrated into the body of the revised Strategy and Tactics document and further discussed as part of the process.
  7. Commissions affirmed the continuing importance of integrating gender, class and national issues in our analysis of the progress we are making and new challenges arising.
  8. We must elaborate on the issue of the liberation of black people in general and Africans in particular, in the context of our goal of building a South Africa that belongs to all, black and white. This will include further enriching our understanding of our shared African nationhood and Pan-African solidarity.
  9. We must continue to struggle to defeat the demon of racism, ethnic chauvinism, tribalism and regionalism in our society at large. This also requires an ongoing vigorous political programme within our own movement, to combat the abuse of racial, ethnic, regional and other differences for political or other gain.

    ORGANISATIONAL ISSUES

  10. Commissions noted that branches did not have an opportunity to discuss the organisational design document prior to the NGC. Nonetheless the NGC discussed the document and felt that ongoing discussions should continue to enrich the process started through the organisational design document.
  11. With respect to specific recommendations proposed and issued raised in the Secretary General's Organisational Report, the Commissions reached the following conclusions:

11.1. The ANC is a national liberation movement. While we are a ruling party and must fight elections, we remain a mass movement and this should be the starting point of any organisational design.
11.2. At the core of this movement are the branches of the ANC. In respect of branches:

  1. We reaffirm that the branch is the basic unit of the organisation.
  2. The Secretary General's report to the NGC correctly outlined the many challenges we face at a branch level.
  3. The ANC branches need to become more directly involved in the struggles of communities on the ground. Among the critical issues we must confront is how we must localise the national democratic revolution.
  4. While accepting the validity of the decision of Stellenbosch that branches must form a 50% +1 quorum to decide constitutional matters, the challenge of meeting this quorum is widespread, and we need to find innovative ways of ensuring that branches can meet the quorum and involve more of their members in day to day political activities.
  5. Methods of branch organisation need to be adapted to the specific conditions that exist in different parts of the country. Where large distances are a problem, we should strengthen the sub-branches or other coordinating units of the ANC.
  6. Sub regions and zones: This is a level of organisation where we do not need a one size fits all approach. We should allow for both as structural variations as conditions dictate.
  7. In preparation for the 52nd National Conference the movement should consider increasing the term of office of BECs beyond one year.

11.3. Commissions noted that the new membership system has been an improvement. However, a number of concerns were raised. Foremost amongst these were:

  1. The timely production of cards and distribution of cards.
  2. Membership cards should also reflect the expiry date.
  3. We must ensure that the system is properly linked to branch structures of the ANC as envisaged in clauses 4.5 and 4.7 of the Constitution.
  4. The declaration contained in clause 4.15 of the constitution must form part of the membership form, and new members should have this oath administered upon joining.
  5. Membership servers should be de-centralised and rolled out to regions.

11.4. On the proposal that we should establish sectoral branches:

  1. All commissions disagreed with this idea.
  2. Nevertheless, we must find other ways of interacting with and organising 'interest groups' in order to ensure that their views are taken into account through constitutional structures of the ANC. This could include the creation of special units to address the interests of professionals or any other group.

11.5. On the proposal for an electoral commission:

  1. All commissions disagreed with this idea.
  2. ANC constitutional structures should continue to exercise scrutiny of the preparation of lists of public representatives, to ensure gender, class, age, national and skills balance, while ensuring that our processes remain rooted in democratic practice.
  3. While ensure ongoing cadre development and nurturing of leadership elected to ANC constitutional structures, the commissions disagreed with the proposal that an electoral commission should oversee this process.

11.6. On the proposal to establish an ANC Parliamentary Wing:

  1. All commissions agreed with the alternative proposal that a structure should be established within the SGO to ensure a dynamic link between constitutional and parliamentary structures.
  2. It was further noted that our caucuses are increasingly working better, and we should build upon this, with the support of constitutional structures.

11.7. On the proposal that the NWC should have original powers, the commissions felt that the current role and function of the NWC as defined in the constitution is adequate.

  1. Commissions were seized with the question of the relationship between ANC constitutional structures and institutions of governance. In this regard

    12.1. We re-affirm the constitutional and legal prerogative of the President, Premiers and Mayors to appoint executives.
    12.2. In exercising this prerogative, ANC cadres deployed to such positions should always ensure that the relevant leadership of the movement is consulted. The NEC should work on consultative mechanisms to guide structures of the movement in this regard.
    12.3. The Mafikeng resolution on the "relationship between ANC constitutional structures and institutions of governance" and subsequent decisions relating to the appointment of premiers should be further discussed as part of the overall review in preparation for the 52nd National Conference.

  2. On the structure of Head Office, commissions felt that it is necessary to review the current lines of accountability and structures at Head Office in order to strengthen its capacity to lead in the implementation of our programme of action.
  3. All commissions agreed with the recommendation that 50% of our list of public representatives for local government should be women. This general principle should also apply at the provincial and national spheres from the time of the next election. The ANC should also consider amendments to its own constitution to give effect to this principle within our own structures.
  4. The ANC needs to focus more strongly on the building of an Alliance collective at national and other levels and give attention to the implementation of the Alliance programme of action, especially between elections.
  5. In respect of resourcing of the movement, the NEC should give immediate attention to the following:

16.1. To safeguard the integrity of the ANC, and our system of multi-party democracy, there should be a significant increase in public funding for political parties in parliament, operating at both national and provincial level.
16.2. The ANC should explore measures to increase transparency and accountability about private donations to political parties.
16.3. Branches must be resourced. In this regard we should accept the SG's recommendation that 100% of membership fees be retained by branches.
16.4. We should also review the current arrangements with regard to levies paid by public representatives to various levels of the movement, to ensure that regions, provinces and HQ are properly resourced.
16.5. This should include addressing the resourcing of the Leagues.

  1. Building on the Organisational Report of the Secretary General and other work done in preparation for this NGC, the Secretary General's Office should take responsibility for a more comprehensive organisational review process based on the practical experiences of the organization at all levels.
  2. With respect to the challenge of renewing, strengthening and deepening revolutionary morality, ethics and values of the ANC, the commissions agreed that the NEC should give immediate attention to the following:

18.1. In matters relating to allegations of corruption and fraud against individuals in our movement, our approach should underpinned by the following:

  1. Reaffirm our principled position against fraud and corruption and our ongoing campaign to root out this scourge within our ranks and the society;
  2. Respect for the rights of the individual to remain innocent until proven otherwise by a court, as enshrined in the constitution;
  3. Interventions must be timely;

18.2. In preparation for the 52nd National Conference the organisation should continue discussions on this matter as part of a process of strengthening and deepening the revolutionary morality, ethics and values of the ANC. Our discussions on this matter should take into account the current disciplinary procedures within the ANC Constitution with a view of also improving the current provisions.

  1. Participation of ANC members in business

    19.1. The NEC should develop protocols to regulate the conduct of ANC members in respect of their participation in business;
    19.2. The NEC should also develop protocols to regulate participation of public representatives and government officials leaving office, in business.

Such a protocol should include, among others, a "cooling off period" and a review by an appropriate government agency in order to eliminate the basis of suspicion and insinuation.

  1. We need to find ways of accommodating the reality that many of our people are ANC supporters who want to have ANC cards, but do not wish to participate in the political life of the movement.
  2. The ANC should embark on a programme to recruit one million members before the centenary of the ANC.