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Report on the Balance of Forces

National General Council

11 October 2015


This report covers discussions on the Balance of Forces from all the 8 commissions. Because many of the proposals relate to matters dealt with by the sectoral commissions, this report deals with broad generic issues.


The Commissions were of the common view that the 2007 Strategy and Tactics document and the 2012 Preface are still relevant. However, developments since these Conferences have brought into sharp focus many new dynamics which require further reflection.

All such issues call for creative application of the tools of analysis in the ANC’s arsenal, so as to sharpen our understanding of South African society and the world in which we live, and to enhance the organisation’s role as a vanguard of the NDR.

It was agreed that the process of drafting the Strategy and Tactics document for the 2017 National Conference should start as soon as possible, and entail wide consultation within the ranks of the ANC and its Alliance partners as well as in broader society.


The analysis as presented in the discussion document was broadly welcomed. Proceeding from the perspective that the balance of forces is a dynamic process, it is agreed that we need always to pay attention to the changing objective conditions and subjective factors: domestically, continentally and in the wider world.

In this regard, there is need further to interrogate issues such as:

  • The relationship between the assessment of the balance of forces and the ANC’s strategic objective
  • The variety of mushrooming civil society structures and the failure of the ANC to reach out and give leadership to such forces
  • The growth in the numbers of motive forces of the NDR which do not see the ANC as the leader of the process of transformation, reflected among others in their electoral choices
  • Comprehensive analysis of the nature and character of forces opposed to fundamental transformation
  • The root causes of weaknesses within the ANC, including the ‘sins of incumbency’, which undermine its ability to mobilise society around the cause of radical social change
  • How we make use of our involvement in regional and global economic and other fora to advance the progressive agenda.
  • The objective and subjective circumstances that have precipitated divisions with the progressive trade union movement, and how the ANC can play its leadership role in promoting the unity of workers.


  • The critical focus of the ANC is to ensure that it remains a strong and cohesive organisation that is a vanguard of the motive forces of the NDR, able always to influence and lead the broad democratic movement and society at large. As such, we should seek, on an ongoing basis, to strike the appropriate balance between the number and quality of members.
  • The fundamental task of organisational renewal is outlined in the resolution of the 2012 National Conference. This includes the motivation for, and decision on, the Integrity Commission. It is imperative that these decisions of Conference are implemented. The NEC should ensure that this happens, and report on progress to the membership, at least on an annual basis.


  • Success in implementing the programmes of radical economic transformation and other objectives of the movement depends, critically, on progress in building a capable developmental state. While much progress has been made in this regard, there are many weaknesses that manifest in the various agencies of the state, and these need to be addressed on a comprehensive basis.
  • Of particular concern is the combination of factors, some objective and others a consequence of machinations by nefarious forces, which have the effect of undermining the legitimacy of the state. The Commissions further noted with concern that actions and/or omissions by some of the movement’s cadres in various centres of power have the effect of undermining people’s confidence in the government and in the ANC.
  • The ANC has a responsibility to ensure that the state is capacitated to fulfil its obligations to society and to speed up the process of social transformation. In accordance with prescripts of the Constitution and provisions of relevant legislation, the ANC should ensure that all agencies of the state are appropriately staffed and resourced.


  • Whilst we welcome the progress made in building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous society, we are fully cognisant of the need to mobilise all sectors of society around the National Development Plan, with the aim of proceeding as speedily as possible towards a National Democratic Society. The leadership role of the ANC should find full expression in the efforts to forge a social compact.
  • As part of this process, the ANC must develop a deeper grasp of the evolution of various classes and strata in society, including the emergent middle strata, who are a product of the process of social transformation. The analysis must inform how we relate and engage these social strata in a manner that advances the objectives of the NDR. An appropriate response to this changing reality does not imply a slackening of our focus on the working class, the poor, women and other marginalised sectors of society.


  • The South African government and the ANC are widely respected among a multitude of countries and regions across the globe. South Africa has made great strides in making its voice and that of Africa heard, in various international fora. There is a danger, though, that this can be undermined by our own poor performance and conduct. Inversely, exemplary conduct and effective performance within South Africa - by both the ANC and the government - do have an important contribution to make in enhancing the country’s standing in the global arena.
  • The approach of our movement is informed by the imperative to pursue the interests of our people, and to build a safer and more humane world order. In this regard, the following areas need further analysis:
    • How we contribute to the strengthening of, and work with, the AU and regional bodies to advance African interests.
    • How we utilise our positive attributes as a country, to enhance the standing of our region and continent and to advance the global transformation agenda
    • Ways of strengthening the progressive alliances that have been forged over the years, including BRICS in particular. In this process, we need to be cognisant of the fact that - in all international partnerships - a variety of considerations, rather than charity, inform the conduct of international relations.
    • Working with other countries on the continent, and with allies in other parts of the globe, we must continue sharply to raise the issue pertaining to the reform of multilateral institutions.
    • Along with these international partners, we should also strive to understand and change the negative geo-political dynamics playing out in various parts of the world.


  • We note that the NGC is meeting at a time when Africa is on the rise and there are opportunities for the continent to effectively respond to challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and inequality; and to build peace and democracy. This positive tendency must be consolidated.
  • Further analysis is required on new dynamics on the continent, including changing economic balances, as well as phenomena such as the emergences of the “KINGs” (Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Ghana). This should lead to requisite strategies on how South Africa can partner various strategic anchor countries.
  • The ANC must take active part in efforts to strengthen the African Union and to ensure the implementation of Agenda 2063.

Middle East

  • The ANC will continue to pursue peace and democracy in the Middle East, including the liberation of the people of Palestine. In regard, we must continually review South Africa’s relations with the state of Israel.


The NGC reaffirms the ANC’s commitment continually to shift the balance of forces in favour of the forces of social transformation to attain a National Democratic Society; and to strengthen its partnerships with global forces which are committed to building a peaceful, more equitable and more humane world order.

It is the conviction of this National General Council that profound possibilities exist to speed up social change, including radical economic transformation. This however depends on the capacity and the will of the ANC to meet its historical mandate. Failure to build such capacity and to correct the incipient weaknesses within the organisation, will place the National Democratic Revolution in grave danger.