South African’s National Liberation Movement

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National General Council

Discussion Documents

The Organisational Design of the ANC "A Case for Internal Renewal"

29 June 2005

An Abridged Version

Part I


1. The Mafikeng ANC National Conference recognised that whereas the 1994 breakthrough ushered a completely new environment in the entire existence of the ANC, it has taken the organisation some time to determine how to operate within this new context. Conference (in 1997) went further to say “Though the democratic order has created opportunities for the organisation that were barely considered possible five years ago, it has presented challenges for which many of the established practices and strategies seem inadequate”. The 1994 elections and the final adoption of a new constitution for South Africa in 1996 marked a historic watershed in the struggle for freedom as led by the ANC. As a result of this victory the conditions of our struggle changed radically. Accordingly, a qualitative step towards the total transformation of power from the hands of South Africa’s white minority group into the hands of the people was accomplished, and for the first time in history, possibilities existed for the ANC to begin to practically change the conditions of the lives of our people.

2. This new opportunity represented by a democratic dispensation involving, among others, the holding of democratic elections and a democratic parliament, raised the need to re-fashion the ANC’s design in order to take full advantage of these new vistas.

3. This fundamental change in the mission of the ANC, from an extra parliamentary movement seeking the forceful overthrow of the apartheid regime, to a political party that is part of a normalized political dispensation seeking to rebuild the socio-economic life of South Africa’s former oppressed majority, once again implied that the ANC had to redesign itself to function optimally for the attainment of the new mission. The Port Elizabeth National General Council observed that among the attributes that make the ANC unique as a political organisation is its ability among others, to “internally renew and redefine itself when the situation so demands.

4. One of the imperatives of proper management is to pay adequate attention to the suitability of an organisation’s structure for the attainment of its goals. Constraints imposed by an inappropriate structure can be just as harmful to an organisation, as poorly conceived strategies. In its own history, the ANC has reputable lessons of creativity in crafting structures that promoted the attainment of its goals because they were in step with the movement’s goals and the environment within which the struggle was executed.


5. The measures taken since 1994 to ameliorate our structural weaknesses have been helpful, but because they did not emanate from a comprehensive assessment of the implications of our strategy and tactics, they were piecemeal and were in response to disparate pressures. They include the changes at the ANC head office, which resulted in the shrinking of previous capacities and their unintended relocation in government, the establishment of caucuses at various levels, and the creation of governance committees in all our legislatures.

6. Our major challenge in the post 1994 period is the need to re-engineer the structure and systems of the ANC from being an extra parliamentary resistance movement into a political party which has systems and structures that electoral politics require. The extent to which this adjustment is sufficiently done, is the object of the Organisational Design (OD) review.

7. The new mission of the ANC to utilise political power to build a better life for all South Africans, requires that just as before, we must, efficiently manage our strategies to drive the revolutionary process in all the five centres of power of our struggle as identified in the revised strategy and tactics (1994).

8. We need to confront the reality that our branches as presently established are not adequate to reach and mobilise all the motive forces of the NDR behind the ANC. We must review the structural reach of the ANC such that the broad forces the ANC organised under the UDF to topple apartheid rule, remain mobilised under the ANC’s political and ideological hegemony.

9. Another central challenge confronting us since 1994 is to creatively achieve an organic integration of the work and duties of newly elected public representatives of the ANC and the traditional party mobilisation and organisational work. The inability to marry the two political lifelines of the organisation is partly responsible for the continuous strain on the movement’s financial resources. Secondly the lack of this organic link has compelled us to device mechanical procedures to supervise and evaluate the work of MP’s, MPL’s and our councillors.

10. Without allowing party political life to be subsumed and dictated to by governance (the legislatures and the executive), the party machinery must be designed to sufficiently reflect the awareness that governance in the contemporary period of our existence, is the primary pillar of our struggle.

11. Having gone through several experiences of what capacities are crucial for head office and provincial offices to possess, and what the implications are for financial resources, the ANC now needs to right-size its bureaucracy. We cannot afford a knee-jerk downsizing of the organisation due to financial problems. The challenge we face is to plan proactively what capacities we need, how these must be provided, and where they must be located.

12. Since the un-banning of the ANC we have not discussed the critical processes of selecting and electing public representatives and party leadership, primarily with the view to ensuring that the current practices are in keeping with the values and traditions of the ANC. More so, because the commotion within the ranks as a result of personal agendas is aided by the way the current processes are designed, which is open to abuse. This matter is so vital that it can determine the future fortunes of the organisation.


13. The design of all organisations – public and private, profit-making and non-profit making – derive from their strategies and tactics. Secondly, from a professional and technical consideration, organisational design speaks to two central components, namely the structure of the organisation and its processes or operations.

14. The strategy and tactics of the ANC was extensively rewritten by the Bloemfontein Conference of 1994 as a natural consequence of the watershed victory scored through the 1994 elections, which ushered a new era in our struggle. It is this strategy that the re-designing of the ANC, as proposed, must respond to.

15. The three tenets of our strategy and tactics which must inform the design of the ANC, are: (1) the ANC contemporary strategic mission; (2) the centres of power that is the state, the economy, civil society, the terrain of ideas and the international arena; and (3) the motive forces of our struggle.

16. Accordingly, the ANC structure and operations/ processes must follow its strategy.


17. Whereas the structure of the ANC is fairly understood by all, its operations/processes require further expansion in order to bring about more clarity and a healthy grasp of what is involved.

18. Like all organisations the ANC organisational processes can be broken down into core processes (i.e. processes that run the main business of the organisation) and support processes (those processes that enable the organisation to realise its core business).

19. Activities which constitute our core (processes) functions are the following:– Policy development, implementation and evaluation. – Organising and Mobilisation (of the motive forces). – Political management and decision-making processes. – Membership development and management – Political Education and training. – Leadership election and selection processes. – Communication processes. – Elections management – Managing the pillars/centres of transformation process.

20. Activities which are of a supportive nature because they assist us realise our core mandate are the following:

  • Human Resource Management/Cadre Policy
  • Financial Management and revenue strategy
  • Research and Knowledge management
  • Technology support processes
  • Facilities management processes

NB: The above is only intended to provide clarity; these processes are dealt with later in the document.

21. The structure of the ANC is not in line with the imperatives of our strategy and tactics, which demands that we organise the ANC in such a way that we give expression to the pillars of the “Programme of the national democratic transformation in the current phase”. This implies that the structure must organically address the fact that the ANC operates in parliament and outside the realm of parliamentary political duties, and that both streams are equally legitimate, no one is more legitimate than the other. However, the leadership of the ANC is one – that is, the elected party leadership organs. Secondly, the structure must also be developed in such a way that all party spheres and leadership organs have corresponding government authority. Lastly, the ANC structure must be dynamic to guarantee effective and efficient mobilisation of the motive forces of our transformation.



E.1 ANC Organisational Structure


22. The most critical weakness of our party constituent structures at all levels is that they do not address the optimal mobilisation of the motive forces for change. Secondly, our structures do not speak to the centres of power of our transformation. These two factors constitute the ANC’s soft under-belly today.

23. The first generic recommendation encompasses ANC leadership organs at all levels, namely that the executives of the ANC at all levels from branch to province, must be structured in accordance with their responsibility to intervene and provide leadership to all centres of power, viz. the state, civil society, the economy, the battle of ideas and the continental and global arena. At an operational level, all ANC offices at all levels, from the branch to head office, must be structured along the following departments, namely Legislature and Governance, Economy, Mobilisation/Organising, Media and Communication, International Affairs, Political education and ideological work.

24. Secondly, the department that is responsible for work within civil society (presently our organising department) must be broken down into targeted sections dealing with different sectors and segments of our motive forces. In other words, in addition to building ANC branches, the organising department must as a matter of principle have sectoral work as one of its core-mandates. The implication of this is that units such as the religious desk must no longer operate as separate entities but should be incorporated into the organising department.

25. All levels of the leadership organs of the ANC, viz branches, sub-regions, regions, provinces, etcetera, must provide for core and support functions / processes in their structures, as outlined under paragraphs 19 and 20 above.

26. Clear guidelines are needed for a structured relationship between party leadership organs and their corresponding spheres of government authority they are responsible for. This must be done in order to remove superfluous hierarchical layers which elongate the control span within the party.



27. It is recommended that while the current territorially based branches (ward based) must remain the main form of ANC branch organisation, the ANC must introduce another category of branches. These must not be territorial determined but targeted branches, aimed at substantial population groups and communities which from an organisational point of view can be defined as naturally belonging together on grounds of a variety of factors including but not limited to common interests and time objectively spend together. These will include among others places cohesive communities such as universities, big work places and interest groups such as cultural workers and issue-based organisations. The NEC must provide guidelines on criteria and procedure to be followed in establishing such branches. The REC should be entrusted with the responsibility to identify the need for such branches and the PEC will be responsible for approving such proposals.


28. Among the design principles the OD must achieve is the delayering of the organisation, to reduce it’s control span, but most significantly the organisation must phase out leadership organs which do not correspond with any equivalent government authority. In this respect, zones must be phased out, and sub-regions as party equivalents of municipalities, must be established in all municipalities.


29. It is important that regions do not simply become another layer in the leadership hierarchy, but must be assisted to add value to the political management of the organisation. Regions should have as one of their primary tasks the engagement of civil society in their areas. Secondly they must ensure that the organisation manages all centres of power and is geared to mobilise all motive forces. Regions must assist in driving the programmes of the tripartite alliance. In view of the above, it is pertinent to consider allocating original powers and administrative resources to regions, so that they can act as effective leadership organs in charge of district programmes.


30. It is important that provinces do not interface only with regions and sub-regions, but also with branches. Provinces must have a good feel and understanding of the state of branches all the time without undermining the work of regions and sub-regions. This must assist to minimise the gap between the organisation’s leadership and branches.

31. Provinces must focus on managing all centres of power and all the motive forces. In this regard, the structure of provincial ANC offices must mirror the structural reorganisation that will be effected at Head office. This is important because whatever is not done at this level is unlikely to happen at lower levels.

32. Like Head office, the provinces must establish the full spectrum of structures which must aide the organising department in attending to all the motive forces of our transformation.

National Office

33. The national office structure largely conforms with the high level design principles as dictated by our Strategy and Tactics. However, there is room to improve the present arrangement to consciously express the imperatives of our Strategy and Tactics.

34. Presently, of the five pillars of our struggle, namely, the state, civil society, the economy, ideological work (battle of ideas) and the international arena, there are departments which are focused on only three of three, viz international affairs, DIP and political education (ideology), and the organising department (civil society). There is however still a need to consciously improve the focus of work within some of the above departments, for an example, the conscious managing of information, publicity and political education as two dimensions of a single effort which must be coordinated, can be better planned for. In addition there are other activities which constitute the broad-front of the battle of ideas (ideological work) that are not attended to by anyone of the two departments. Another example of insufficient focus is the organising department. The volume of work of this department involves managing ANC membership and organising ANC branches. Insufficient attention is paid to the overall organising and mobilisation of the motive forces of our transformation, which go beyond the structures of the ANC, as part of the work of the organising department. In other words, what we refer to as sector work is not sufficiently coordinated as part of organising work of the department, nor is there an ongoing monitoring of the extent to which different sectors of the motive forces are sufficiently attended to.

35. Two pillars of our transformation are not methodically covered by the present structure of the national office. These are the state and the economy. Presently we do not have a department at Head Office which is responsible for matters pertaining to governance work (L&G) all-round. The only structure at Head Office which is directly assisting governance work is the policy sub-committee of the NEC. Other equally important matters of governance work are directly referred to the Secretary-General for attention of the NWC and the NEC without the benefit of expeditious processing by a dedicated group of functionaries at Head Office. With regard to economic matters the same applies, only the NEC sub-committee operates to deal with policy matters. Other issues, initiatives and interventions are attended to on an ad hoc basis by those deployed in the government executive. Organising and mobilisation, in particular within this sector, requires more attention.

36. The ANC Head office has traditionally been organised around the two senior offices, namely, the President’s office and the Secretary General’s office. Depending on the roles and duties departments perform, they are categorised into political and organisational departments. Political departments fall under the Presidency and organisational departments fall under the Secretary General’s office. Among political role playing departments is International Affairs and all those who fall within the realm of ideological work, the DIP (Department of Information and Publicity) and Policy Department included. The rest of the organisation is co-ordinated under the Secretary General’s office. Previous attempts to move away from this model have not been assessed and their conceptualisation has not been politically articulated.

37. Lastly, in this entire arrangement, as in other institutions, the subordination of technical functionaries to political appointees where decisions are involved, must be observed at all times.

National Executive Committee (NEC)

38. The important improvement pertaining to the functioning of the NEC has already been partly addressed with the introduction of the practice where a distinction is made between NEC extended sittings and ordinary NEC sittings. Furthermore, to improve efficiency, the secretarial nature of the NWC warrants reviewing with the view to according it prescribed competencies which will allow some matters to be received and disposed of by the NWC and be reported to the NEC, as it is a de facto practice, although not constitutionally provided for. This will improve the mobility of the organisation in keeping with the new reality.

ANC Caucuses/Parliamentary Wing

39. Possibly the biggest challenge of our review is to design an appropriate structure for the management of both government and legislature work, an area which did not exist before 1994 in our work but has today become our main pre-occupation, the premier pillar of our struggle.

40. Option 1: Parliamentary Wing – Many political, mass based parties have parliamentary wings, which refers to their component or members who are in parliament. The ANC can opt for its own version of a parliamentary wing that suits our own conditions and history. Details such as how the parliamentary leader and leadership collective is selected should be matters for discussion. The nature of the coordination of party public representatives at all spheres of government should also be a matter for further discussion and comparative study.

41. Option 2: A Servicing Department at Head Office – Head office can establish alongside the other departments at head office an entity which is responsible for servicing parliament and other lower levels of legislature work under the SGO. All matters that require the attention of the NEC/NWC would be referred to this department for processing and NEC attention.

E.2. The Process/Operational Design Of The ANC

42. The day-to-day activities of the organisation – the operations of the ANC – constitute another important area of the organisation’s design (in addition to the structure), which must receive attention to improve efficiency through modernisation.

43. All the operational areas identified above exist in the current design of the organisation although not evenly developed. The clarity with which they have been conceptualised and therefore articulated differ from one function to the other. Others are fully developed and sufficiently defined, others are not.

44. These processes or the way in which the organisation functions, from the point of view of Organisation Development (OD) do not exhibit glaring short-comings. Modernisation therefore entails among others, an exercise to define the operational process better to improve the distinction among and between several functions to enhance efficiency and professionalism.

45. A more comprehensive assessment of the other operational areas as listed on page 6, should be conducted. Unlike the structure, which requires to be endorsed by the NGC, further work can be done to improve these processes post-NGC.

Policy Formulation

46. Needless to say, policy formulation, implementation and monitoring policy process is a critical core-function of the ANC, and requires an evaluation of our policy formulation cycle. Experience has shown that the ANC’s policy formulation systems are in fact quite advanced and developed compared to some of the other parliamentary political parties.

47. What matters most is how responsive the party policy process is to public sentiments. The challenge is to avoid the policy process being too bureaucratised within the party structures, to a point of losing touch with the broad masses.

48. Further work must be done by the NEC Policy Sub-Committee in the mapping of the policy process.

Organising and Mobilisation

49. This core process is one of the ANC’s traditional functions. An assessment of our operations in this area is required with the view of ensuring that our efforts are always diversified so as to reach all the motive forces of our transformation, in whatever way we define them. Mobilisation and organisation should not always be limited to the state of ANC branches, because they do not always provide the reach we need to galvanise all our motive forces, sector work is equally crucial to advance our transformation. Organisational work must be informed by the way our strategy and tactics identify our motive forces.

Membership Development and Management

50. Membership development and management is at the centre of the existence of any political organisation or party. This particular aspect or our operations has literally wreaked havoc in our organisation over the last ten years

51. Some of the weaknesses which emanated from the inability to devise appropriate administrative procedures transcended into political difficulties for the organisation.

52. The membership department must still address the problem of a high turn over of new members who are not retained in the organisation. A permanent solution should include measures to curb the abuse of the recruitment process which props factionalism. Recruitment must first and foremost be a political undertaking – the yellow slips come after so to speak. Measures must be put in place to prevent individuals from owning branches and individuals who sign up for the ANC.

Selection and Election of Leadership

53. The process of selecting public representatives and electing leadership organs is an important responsibility the organisation must perform from time to time.

54. The present practice is however not always informed and in line with the values and traditions of the organisation. The selection and elections processes as presently practiced within the organisation, are contributing to the poor levels of cohesion within the ranks and factional agenda, as the current practice does not necessarily promote the values of the ANC, such as putting the collective first and of assigning individuals responsibilities objectively in accordance with their abilities. The role financial resources play in the selection process is critical and must be expanded upon.

55. The ANC needs to reform its election and selection processes in order to restore sanity within the ranks and to reduce the contemporary commotion and factionalism.

56. In this regard, we should learn from parties with a social conscience such as ourselves, for example the Swedish Social Democratic Party approach where in the election of the party leadership organs, the party conference elects a permanent Electoral Commission, which takes charge of the elections process in the run-up and including at the next conference. The members of the Electoral Commission are individuals with a good track record and who enjoy respect across the rank for a variety of reasons are considered to have no personal interest in the elections result. They would predominantly come from the veterans, but young people are also included on the basis of the confidence they command among the rank and file.

57. For the selection of public representatives the process is slightly modified. The process is entirely driven by branches in this case. Branches discuss the names of candidates openly in branch meetings and unanimously agree on their candidates. Once the primary structures have pronounced themselves, unlike with party leadership elections, the senior structures cannot temper with the names. However, in our context, where overall issues of representivity are still important strategic challenges of our national democratic transformation, it is proper that the leadership is accorded the right to correct deviations.

Managing the Pillars/Centres of our Transformation

58. One of the critical challenges in the operation of the ANC post 1994 has been the fashioning and conscious management of the pillars of our transformation.

59. This challenge to give leadership and to coordinate strategies in these centres of struggle is both a structural and systems problem. Evidently, the organisational structure of the ANC cannot guarantee efficiency if it does not reflect that it is informed by this strategic imperative.

Human Resources/Cadre Policy

60. The legacy of the Pre-1990 period has proved difficult to sustain under the new conditions, because the material conditions which were responsible for the movement to have at its disposal thousands of loyal, disciplined, dedicated, devoted and determined cadres have altered. The challenge the organisation faces is how we continue to prepare for future human resources need in circumstances where cadres now enjoy a relative degree of economic independence from the organisation and in planning their lives.

61. Secondly, it becomes imperative in our language and practice to draw distinction between cadres and members. Whereas it is time that cadres are developed from members, we must not overlook the reality that there are thousands of people who take ANC membership and others who entertain the idea, but who have no intention to become cadres.

62. Our cadre-policy needs to take into account short and long-term tasks of the revolution in preparing cadres. The practice of grooming pools of skill in different policy sectors is also to be encouraged.

63. It is important that cadre-policy duties must not be confused with deployment as it is currently practiced. Again the SGO must be tasked with review reports and movement literature on this matter and table a way forward. More than ever before, the ANC needs to manufacture more cadres to manage its phenomenal political growth.


64. The problem of finances has become increasingly prominent in the operation of the ANC recently. This has even tempted us to consider a review of the force levels of the party and the functions it performed.

65. The obligation of treasury and the finance committee is to devise a revenue strategy that must support the operations of the ANC. The mission the ANC stands for, cannot be compromised due to our failure to device such a strategy. This work must be done to complete the OD project.


66. Further views and inputs will be collected during the discussion in branches. These will be integrated into the main document for the NGC.

67. In the recommendations, there are changes that can be implemented without amending the constitution, structures that can be implemented under any constitutional variation, such as the different divisions of our offices at various levels. These must be isolated for amplification and possible endorsement by the NEC.

68. These recommendations in part, have immediate financial implications. In order to operationalise them even before the required resources are secured, an input must be prepared on innovative ways of growing the desired capacities.

69. The second part of this process will proceed after the NGC views have been captured.