South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Summary of Amendments to ANC Constitution

18 December 1994

Note: We present here an overview of the most significant features of the amendments to the ANC constitution. The full text of the amended constitution will published separately in all eleven official languages.

The ANC Constitution as amended and adopted at the 49th National Conference is intended to orient the structure of the organisation to conditions in the country since the April 27 election.

The constitution describes the ANC as a liberation movement, dedicated to the achievement of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa. The constitution enshrines democratic decision-making and accountability within the or-

ganisation. It lays the basis for maximum membership participation in the life and activities of the ANC. At the same time and within the framework of democratic accountability, it lays the basis for effective central leadership.

The preamble, aims and objectives and the character of the ANC will be redrafted by a commission appointed by the NEC to reflect the emphasis on reconstruction and development and the promotion of a human rights culture, necessitated by the changed circumstances.

The main amendments to the constitution were regarding the structures of the organisation and their functioning. References to Umkhonto we Sizwe, for example, were removed from the constitution, since MK was integrated into the new South African National Defence Force. Similarly, references to overseas branches were removed, as they too have ceased to exist.

National Executive Committee

In light of the rationalisation of the 14 ANC regions into the nine provinces of the new South Africa, it was decided to increase the number of NEC members directly elected by Conference. The composition of the NEC is therefore as follows:

  • President, Deputy President, National Chairperson, Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and Treasurer General – all elected at Conference;
  • 60 people elected at Conference;
  • President and Secretary of the Women’s League and Youth League ex officio;
  • Chairperson and Secretary of each province ex officio;
  • Five people to be co-opted by the NEC.

It was agreed by conference that people who would have served on the NEC by virtue of their positions in provinces or in the leagues and who had been directly elected to the NEC, could, in special cases, retain both positions. However, the affected province or league would not then get an additional place on the NEC.

National Working Committee

The size of the NWC was reduced so that it would be able to coordinate more effectively the different aspects of ANC work. The NWC will therefore comprise of the six national office bearers plus no more than a quarter of directly-elected NEC members.

NWC members need not necessarily be full time, but the NEC has the authority to allocate specific people full-time posts. The Youth League and Women’s League will each appoint one representative to serve on the NWC.

Provincial Structures

The greatest structural changes have been at the level of transforming our 14 regions into nine provinces. This transformation has required a redefinition not only of our structures, but of the terms we have used to describe them. Under the new constitution there will be nine provinces, whose functions correspond to those of our former regions. Within each province there will be a number of regions, whose size and boundaries will be determined by each province. Within each of these regions, there will be sub-regions. And, at a local level, there will be branches.

1. Provincial Conference

The highest decision-making body of the province is the Provincial Conference, which will meet every two years. A Special Provincial Conference can be called if requested by at least one third of branches. The Provincial Conference will elect the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC).

2. Provincial Executive Committee

The Provincial Executive Committee will consist of:

  • Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson, Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Treasurer, all elected at the Provincial Conference;
  • 13 people directly elected at the Provincial Conference;
  • Ex officio members will come from regions (2 each), leagues (2 each) and public representatives (method of appointment to be debated);
  • Three people co-opted by the PEC. The Provincial Executive Committee will:
  • Be elected for a two-year term;
  • have executive powers and be accountable to the NEC;
  • meet at least once a month;
  • elect a Provincial Working Committee not larger than one quarter of the PEC, which will meet at least once a week.

There will be a Provincial Council in each province at least three times a year.

3. Regions

There will be not more than 13 regions per province. Each region will have a Regional Executive Committee, elected at the regional AGM, which will be an executive structure accountable to the Provincial Executive Committee. The region will be represented on the PEC by its Chair and Secretary. There will be regular Regional Councils.

4. Sub-regions

Within regions there will be sub-regional structures. These structures will serve a coordinating, not executive, function.

5. Branches

Branches will continue to exist as they do – executive structures accountable to the Regional Executive Committee. Branches will remain the powerhouses of the organisation, where responsibility for the building of the organisation and the effectiveness of our activity must reside.

Apart from changes to the structure, a number of other amendments were deemed necessary.

Gender and affirmative action

In addition to committing itself to a programme of affirmative action to ensure that women are adequately represented in all decision-making structures, Conference resolved to give extra effect to that commitment by including the provision of quotas as a possible strategy to pursue.

Special Conference

A Special Conference may be convened for a stated purpose at the request of a majority of provinces or at the request of the NEC. Participation in such a conference will be determined by the NEC and notice will be given not less than a month before the conference. Special Conferences called for amendments to be made to the constitution will be constituted on the basis of proportional representation based on the membership of branches.

Contractual liabilities

Only the national officers of the organisation have the authority to bind the ANC to any contract or to create any legal relationship for the ANC. Any other person purporting to bind the organisation must produce a written authorisation from one of the national officers which indicates the extent of that person’s authority.


The National Conference – or any Special Conference – may dissolve the organisation by a two thirds majority of delegates present and voting. The assets and liabilities of the organisation will be transferred in such a manner as determined by Conference.