The Balance of Forces
30 August 2002
An assessment of the balance of forces is part of the process that must inform our discussions on Strategy and Tactics towards Conference. Any balance of forces is dynamic and evolving, influenced by changing objective and subjective factors. This understanding of the balance of forces enables the liberation movement to make decisive interventions from time to time to propel the struggle forward.
This discussion paper will first give an overview of the balance of forces in 1997. It examines the major developments that have occurred over the last five years and the (subjective) actions of the democratic movement to shift the balance of forces. Finally, we raise some of the challenges -objective and subjective – in each centre of power, which face us as we prepare for 51st National Conference. At the end, we must determine how these shifts and challenges in the balance of forces entail the need for amendments to our Strategy and Tactics
PART 1: Overview of the last five years
The Balance of forces in 1997
- The Strategy and Tactics adopted by the 50th National Conference in 1997, made the following observations on the balance of forces:
- 1994 was a historic breakthrough, with a constitutional framework that gave us opportunities to implement transformation. As a result of our elections victory, we took formal control of the state machinery.
- The pace of change was still largely influenced by the compromises of our negotiated settlement (the sunset clauses, including the GNU, entrenchment of public servants’ rights, including the security forces and judiciary) and the fact that we took over an apartheid state machinery, with its security networks also largely intact.
- The majority of public servants, captains of industry and editorial rooms shared the perspectives of the former government or its white opposition.
- The ANC continued to enjoy legitimacy and support – at home and abroad -far wider than its mass base; and the masses of our people were prepared to reconcile with their erstwhile oppressors.
- Our transition to democracy took place in a world in which the system of capitalism enjoys dominant sway over virtually the entire globe. But it is also a world in which the agenda of the working people and developing nations can find creative expression in pursuit of a humane, just and equitable world order.
- Strategy and Tactics (1997) thus concluded that the balance of forces gave the democratic forces great possibilities to use the new situation as a beach-head to fundamentally transform society. We therefore summarised the strategic tasks of the NDR for the next period:
- Build and strengthen the ANC as a movement that organises and leads the people in the task of social transformation;
- Deepen our democracy and culture of human rights and mobilise the people to take active part in changing their lives for the better;
- Strengthen the hold of the democratic movement on state power, and transform the state machinery to serve the cause of social change;
- Pursue economic growth, development and redistribution in such a way as to improve the people’s quality of life; and
- Work with progressive forces throughout the world to promote and defend our transformation, advance Africa’s renaissance and build a new world order.
1999 – Continuity and Change
While the assessment of the S&T document remained relevant, the advent of the 1999 elections posed a number of tactical and strategic questions about shifts in the balance of forces and opportunities for more rapid advance. This was captured by the approach adopted by January 1999 NEC meeting as the dynamic of “continuity and change”: continuity in the substance of policy and change in the detail as well as style, pace and effectiveness of implementation.
- The NEC noted that, arising from the balance of forces in 1994, our approach to major issues of transformation was constrained by the compromises made during negotiations. This applied to issues such as the deployment of personnel, matters of detail on economic policy and generally the pace of transformation. However, by 1999 the situation had changed, characterised among others by:
- Consolidated legitimacy of the democratic order, marginalising any forces that may have had intentions of staging violent counter-revolution;
- Better hold on levers of state power, making it possible to introduce far-reaching changes to strengthen the capacity to transform society;
- Government’s management of macro-economic issues had stabilised the macroeconomic environment, thus creating space for approaches that would assist in employing more resources to the task of economic growth and job-creation as well as socio-economic programmes;
- The general expectation of change and hope among the overwhelming majority of South Africans, as well as ambivalence and fear among some sectors, particularly among the coloured, Indian and white communities.
- We concluded that conditions had ripened for a bold and faster pace of transformation during the following five years. We therefore needed to move with speed in implementing some of the decisive steps during the first year. On the basis of this assessment, the election message included the theme of accelerating change. This broadly found resonance among the people, resulting in a bigger electoral majority.
- We thus – following the 1999 elections – took decisive action on a number of strategic fronts, including:
- Improving our mastery of parliamentary work as a platform to advance transformation, instead of ceding this terrain to the opposition;
- Greater coherence in the functioning of government through the introduction of clusters and movement towards joint planning and implementation;
- A new approach to the senior management of the public service including strategic handling of deployment and the introduction of integrated thinking and action;
- Greater intervention by government to help speed up the rate of investment and job creation; reflected in the micro economic reforms announced by Cabinet, and the shift toward a more expansionary fiscal stance.
- More systematic targeting of poverty through the implementation of the integrated sustainable rural development and urban renewal strategies; alongside the implementation of other programmes;
- Visible and effective intervention on crime with the creation of the Scorpions and changes in senior management of the SAPS, resulting in greater self confidence of the law enforcement agencies, alongside an integrated approach to criminal justice through its cluster; and
- The establishment of a democratic and non-racial sphere of local government, which, although lacking capacity particularly in the poorest areas, created the potential for accelerated transformation at local level.
- Despite these advances, we were still faced with many challenges. These include:
- The need for parliament to take further measures to ensure greater popular participation;
- Continued weakness in capacity to implement programmes, particularly in the local sphere of government;
- Dealing with the reality and perceptions of corruption;
- The impact of slow economic growth and industrial restructuring on the working class;
- The relatively low levels of investment by the private sector and continued poor access to capital by blacks;
- Lack of progress on programmes that target investment toward social development by pooling capital in state hands, social capital and ‘allied’ private capital and
- Given problems of implementation of social programmes targeting the poor, impatience by some communities with the delivery of services.
More specifically, we asserted that we probably face our greatest challenge in the arena of the battle of ideas. We noted that this area is critical because even though we may have made progress in material terms, unless the forces for change are able to exercise hegemony, it will impact on our capacity to mobilise society around our programme for change, and ultimately on our ability to effect change and transformation.
- We concluded that our engagement in this arena was in part hindered or facilitated by the availability or otherwise of instruments and cadres to wage this battle. And, notwithstanding the plethora of institutions (media, educational terrain, culture and arts, etc) doting the landscape, there are no centres and revolutionary cadres preoccupied with ideological struggle.
Strengthening the ANC as an Agent for change
The National General Council (NGC) in July 2000 was a landmark event, which reaffirmed the character of the ANC as a revolutionary movement for change. As the ‘largest political school’ of the movement it brought together for the first time since National Conference in 1997, branch delegates, veterans, leadership collectives and cadres from all walks of life who are working in different sectors.
The NGC, in assessing the new subjective weaknesses of the phase of governance, noted that amongst others, we have not yet mastered adequately the art of mass involvement in the process of governance and social transformation and the emergence of tendencies within the ANC to see positions in government as platforms for acquiring power and positions and divisions based on self-enrichment.
The NGC also reflected on progress with the implementation of policies. It noted that the first six years of freedom brought new rights, responsibilities and opportunities. However, we needed to do more to speed up the pace of change.
- Arising from the NGC discussions and our approach of continuity and speeding up change, the following were identified as the (subjective) challenges facing the democratic movement in the organisational and governance spheres:
- Organisational challenges: Activation of branches and members to serve as a vanguard of their communities; Strengthen the Tri-partite Alliance and build an active broad front for transformation; Involve the membership in the resolution of critical questions facing the organisation; Provide resources for, and ensure participation in, the cadre school programme; Improve ideological intervention by the ANC at all levels of discourse and formulation of policy; Examine the challenge of “modernisation” of the ANC both as a concept and in its practical application, in a manner that sustains and deepens the revolutionary character of the movement
- Governance challenges: Improving the capacity of the state to meet its obligations to the citizens; Giving a spur to the drivers of economic growth and job-creation; Broaden access to social services and improve their quality; Build national identity and a new morality; Improve international solidarity and contribute to building a better Africa and a better world.
Building branches as vanguards of communities
The 1994 and 1997 National Conference, adopted the broad principle that we should align our constitutional structures to correspond with each sphere of government. Whereas after 1994 we completed this process with regards provinces, the process at regional and local level only started after the implementation of the new system of local government in 2000.
- We thus since the beginning of 2001, embarked on a major process of realignment of the ANC branches and regions. The objective of this programme was to align our structures at these spheres to enable us to give leadership to governance and delivery; to build branches as vanguards of communities and reassert the centrality of the branch in the structure of the ANC and to through participation of the members, addressed problems that have plagued a number of our provinces. Though the process was slower than envisaged, we have by-and-large achieved the main objectives, which was strengthened with our declaration of 2002 as the Year of the Volunteer for Reconstruction and Development.
Shifts in opposition politics
The last eight years have seen a number of shifts in opposition politics, such as the disappearance of some former homeland-based parties, the consolidation of others in specific areas (e.g. the UCDP in North West, IFP in KZN, UDM in E Cape). Amongst historical white parties the base of the far right has been significantly eroded.
Another important development during this period was our cooperation with the IFP, with whom we share a social base, for peace and development. This was reflected by the participation of the IFP in the Government of National Unity, by our participation in the IFP-led Government of Provincial Unity in KZN and cooperation in government after 1999 at both these levels. The cooperation was also characterised by organisational interaction in the form of the three-asides and engagements between the ANC Youth and Women’s League and the IFP Youth and Women’s Brigades.
The cooperation has ensured the significant reduction of violence in KZN (and Gauteng). The cooperation, however, has not been without its problems, around such issues as the role of the institution of traditional leadership in the new system of democratic local governance, the coalition agreement with the province, the seat of the province and so forth. There have also been the overtures between the IFP and the DA in the province, reflected for example in coalition governments in a number of municipalities in the province, after the 2000 local elections.
The tactical mistake by the NNP to leave the GNU in 1996 meant that it was cast into the political wilderness and during the 1999 elections campaign, the DP usurped its ‘swart gevaar’ tactics, and it lost significant ground to them. Losing many of its public representatives to the DP and other parties, it entered into an unholy alliance with the DP to form the Democratic Alliance, excluding the ANC from governance in the W Cape even though we won a majority. The DA jointly contesting local elections in 2000. This development resulted in the significant polarisation of politics along racial lines.
- The opportunity presented by the break-up of the DA to break this mold of racial politics were correctly grasped by the ANC and thus the cooperation with the NNP, in government and in all spheres of society, towards nation-building and improving the lives of all South Africans.
Eradicating the legacy of racism, sexism, colonialism and apartheid
On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the ANC, the January 8 statement challenged the democratic forces to look forward to the tasks we have to accomplish during the critical decade that will take us to the Centenary of the ANC. The guiding principle, it said, is the objective to move forward decisively to eradicate the legacy of racism, sexism, colonialism and apartheid based on the vision of the Freedom Charter.
- To achieve this goal in the next ten years, 51st Conference must set bold, but realistic goals that prioritise the most important aspects of social activity, ensuring that we move forward in a balanced and integrated manner. An assessment of the challenges (both objective and subjective) facing us in each of the key centres of power will be key to enable us to be bold where possible or otherwise to take the necessary measures to shift the balance in favour of our strategic objective.
Transforming the State and Governance:
We inherited an apartheid colonial state, which was illegitimate and structured to serve the interests of a white minority. To perpetuate itself, it relied on repressive apparatus on a massive scale and on an aggressive policy towards its neighbors. It used public resources to buy off collaborative strata from amongst the black majority through its Bantustan, Tricameral parliament and black local authority policies.
The democratic state, in contrast, is legitimate and serves the interests of the overwhelming majority. It is based on a democratic constitution, a culture of human rights and openness. It seeks to use public resources to better the lives of the majority, especially the poor. It is determined to root out corruption and criminality; and it does not rely on buying off sectors or groups to win their allegiance. It pursues the interests of the motive forces of change; and it strives in many respects to become a state of the whole people.
The democratic state is also developmental in its character. This means that it is a state that uses the resources available to it to ensure the progressive redistribution of wealth in the interest of the poor and disadva ntaged. It should put in place regulatory and other mechanisms that not only seek to obviate market failure, but seek also to transform the structure of markets in the interests of the poor and marginalised, and also afford the state the capacity to intervene in a pro-active way to facilitate growth and redistribution. The fiscal and monetary policies it thus pursues should not only be mutually consistent, but also help facilitate its prime objectives.
Growth and development require capital investments; and these reside primarily in private hands. Therefore, a developmental state has to define and regulate its interaction with private capital in such a way that mutual benefit can be derived. This includes an industrial policy that helps to direct private capital into critical sectors; and a labour market policy that prevents super-exploitation and encourages skills development and work-place democracy. It includes offering aspirant black capitalists opportunities, which in fact encourage the expansion of this class. A developmental state should also be able to strike the correct balance between state ownership of productive forces and private ownership, guided, inter alia, by the prerogatives of strategic interest, efficiency, technology-transfer, affordability of services and narrow cost-benefit considerations.
In 1997, three years after the democratic breakthrough, the South African state still did not reflect, in its composition, practical realisation of doctrines and broadly the capacity to carry out its multifaceted functions -the social classes and strata that pursue social transformation. It was thus a state in transition.
Strategy and Tactics (1997) therefore stated that amongst the strategic tasks of the NDR is to strengthen the hold of the democratic movement over state power, and to transform the state machinery to serve the cause of social transformation: The levers of state power include the legislatures, the executives, the public service, the security forces, the judiciary, parastatals, the public broadcaster, and so on. Control by democratic forces means that these institutions should operate on the basis of the precepts of the Constitution; they should be guided by new doctrines; they should reflect in their composition the demographics of the country; and they should owe allegiance to the new order.
- In line with the Programmatic challenges to transform the state in the current phase, we must therefore review progress in the eight years through our Policy Review process, to address the following issues:-
- Whether the new doctrines that should guide each state organ are in place and have we changed the composition of each state organ. Does each organ use public resources to better the lives of the majority, especially the poor? Are they taking the necessary steps to root out corruption and criminality? Do they pursue the interests of the motive forces and are they becoming the state of the people as a whole?
- Have we succeeded in our efforts to define the size of the state and its various organs in line with the new tasks?
- Have we managed to expand the resources in the hand of the state on an ongoing basis, primary amongst which sources should be a growing economy, as well as improved tax collection, efficient management of public resources and a ruthless rooting out of corruption? Are the systems we have introduced to monitor reprioritisation bearing results; are we turning the corner on the issue of roll-overs in key programmatic areas targeting the poor? Are the measures taken (clusters, the ISRDS, etc) to ensure integrated planning and implementation having an impact?
- Have we begun to address the patriarchal nature of the state and the mainstreaming of gender in all of its activities? What role does the gender machinery (OSW, CGE, gender focal points in departments, etc) play in the struggle to build a non-sexist state?
- To what extent have we restructured state assets in the interest of development which favours disadvantaged sectors of society and have conducted ourselves in pursuit of this in a manner that benefits workers, black entrepreneurs and society in general?
- With the advent of the new system of local government, have we sufficiently addressed the division of labour and the capacities need among the various spheres of government?
- Have we managed to mobilise motive forces around programmes of governance? Are the consultative and participatory structures (SGB’s, CPF’s, health committees, ward committees, etc), other consultative processes (public participation in legislation and policies) and government information, communications and outreach, the work done by our armies of public representatives sufficient to say that we are truly making progress in involving people in their own development?
- We also need to address other subjective factors such as the challenges facing cadres in the public service who are accumulating skills and experience at an amazing pace, yet these cadres as well as those in various sectors of the mass movement are thinly dispersed, rarely interact as cadres of change (except, in some instances, as employer and employed), and do not have a readily accessible centre to which they can defer and the problem of social distance where especially senior cadres in government as a rule are removed from the primary constituencies that the state is meant to serve.
- Furthermore, how do we strengthen the role played by the progressive cadreship in various senior and middle management positions, in the public sector unions, who are largely within the fold of COSATU, to ensure that we take forward transformation of the state and ensure that it improve its capacity to serve the citizenry, without compromising their responsibility as unions to represent workers’ interests?
The centre-piece of our programme for the economy, says Strategy and Tactics (1997) is the pursuit of growth and development. We must do this by increasing the wealth base of the country in the same measure as we improve the quality of life of especially the poor. We must effect, in a variety of ways, the redistribution of wealth and income in favour of those previously excluded from the economic mainstream.
The Mafikeng resolution on the Economy reaffirmed the overarching objectives of our economic transformation programme as a competitive, fast growing and developing economy which creates sufficient jobs for all those seeking work; redistribution of wealth, income and opportunities in favour of the poor and historically disadvantaged, a society in which basic services are available to all, an environment where homes are secure and places of work productive and the popular involvement and participation of all South Africans in the economy and in economic decisions.
The economy remains characterised by the skewed evolution of capitalism, which characterises all colonial economies. It emerged on the foundation of mineral extraction and relied heavily on this for many decades. On the other, it was founded on the tradition of big imperial companies and later Afrikaner capital which speedily developed, or was co-opted, into the courtyard of monopoly capital. The development of a manufacturing base especially in the 1950s and 60s was underpinned by the large mining houses, along which had emerged a financial sector, which was part of the same circle.
The state also became an instrument to accumulate, utilise and allocate capital in the interest of the white community in general and the white Afrikaner sections in particular. The farming sector and small and medium enterprises among whites were also in the main beholden to an evolving state monopoly capitalism. Their growth and successes were achieved in the same measure as any real or potential accumulation in the black communities was suppressed.
The economy in our country is thus characterised by a highly centralised and concentrated system of ownership, overwhelmingly in white hands. BEE has not started to dent this. The same applies in large measure to SMME’s. Over the years, the growth of the black section of the working class and, in a limited way; the middle strata has created an army of savers who by sheer numbers have become a significant though largely latent force in the financial terrain. There are also many new trends including the mergers among large financial institutions and, as with the mining conglomerates in the 1980s, movement towards their positioning internationally as global players that transcend the regulatory apparatus of the nation-state.
South African capital can thus be disaggregated as follows: large private, and increasingly globally accountable, conglomerates in the productive and financial spheres; large institutional capital such as pension and provident funds, most of it located in the above; state or public capital in the form of parastatals and the fiscus itself; and small-scale community and cooperative/social capital.
In the context of these objectives, our discussions and Policy review process will have to address, amongst other things:
- The impact of our transformation programmes on the key challenges of economic and social inequality, poverty, employment, growth, investment, trade and macro economic indicators.
- What are the focused efforts necessary to create employment, increase economic opportunities for the mass of black people and improve the lives of the poor? How do we increase investment by both the private and public sector? What progress with sectoral strategies and particularly the growth sectors identified to create opportunities for growth and employment creation? Does the draft Industrial/Manufacturing strategy and the micro economic reforms effectively address these goals?
- What further or new strategies should be put in place that will lead to accelerated economic growth? What role should the state in particular play?
- Are we making progress in addressing social problems that hinder growth such as the apartheid spatial policy, urban and rural sprawl, human resource shortages and safety and security?
- What targeted strategies do we need to mobilise the motive forces around our programmes of economic growth, development and redistribution? What are the concrete tasks facing the different Alliance partners in working and mobilising for growth and development; leading the programme to build national consensus and buy-in through a social accord and the role of the Alliance to mobilise other forces in support of such an accord.
- What are the concrete tasks of the ANC and each of its alliance partners to engage with capital towards increased investment for growth, in support of black economic empowerment and NEPAD; using structures such as the Presidential working groups, the Millennium Labour Council, NEDLAC, Alliance campaigns and various provincial and LED processes?
Arena of the battle of ideas
Our transition to democracy and efforts to change people’s material conditions take place in a national context where the opposing forces in the NDR seek to assert their ideas and to win society over to their points of view. Both sides try to do this using the various instruments of ideological contest at our disposal as a society – including the media, culture and the arts, education and knowledge production/research and other socialising institutions such as the family, religion, tradition and so forth. It includes the battle for ideas about and within the various levers of power under control of the democratic forces.
Since the legitimacy of our transition to democracy and our programme to create a better life for all is difficult to contest head-on by forces opposed to change; they have been using all sorts of other deflectionary messages to undermine this programme.
Our transition also takes place in the context of a growing global information and knowledge society, which along with changes in forms of production in the developed world, undermine traditional approaches to politics and political organisation. This has seen the decline and increased individualisation not only of party political organisation in the West, but also in trade union organisation. Coupled with the growing values of self-advancement and individualism and a cynicism about ‘politics and politicians’, the citizenry in these countries have either turned towards more extreme political parties (as in France, Netherlands), disengaged from political participation or are joining civil movements organised around issues such as the environment or anti-globalisation.
The impact of this informationalism on the developing world is uneven. On the one hand new technologies meant that more people have access to televisions and to a lesser degree the Internet, thus the growth of international brands such as Coca Cola, Nike, Atomic Kitten or David Beckham and the dominance of the goings-on of the financial markets in our news. On the other hand, due to the lack of infrastructure (telecommunications and electricity), Africa still lags far behind and the vast majority of its population carve out a meagre existence, marginalised from this society.
In South Africa, with its two worlds in one country, there are marked differences. The overwhelming majority of Africa’s Internet and telephone users are in South Africa. We have a vibrant print media and the efforts to deregulate the airways have led to greater diversification and access to radio and television. This means that the media plays a much greater role in informing and forming public opinion amongst a significant section of our populace.
Issues of ownership, control, transformation to address race, class and gender and media diversity are therefore as important as addressing our capacity as the democratic forces to communicate effectively. This includes the capacity to influence how the messages and content of our transformation are mediated through the media.
It also means strengthening our own instruments of communications as a democratic government and movement and not abdicating on the responsibility of modernising our organisation to ensure that we use direct contact and new technologies to communicate directly with our members, different sectors and the broader public.
Our programme to transform education is not only addressing access to and the quality of education, but also education as a socialisation institution for the transmission of new values, national identity and our constitutional order of democracy, non-racialism, non-sexism, human rights and equality -through initiatives such as values in education, civic education and the teaching of history projects. Decisive steps have been introduced to transform research institutions of the state and the higher education landscape, so that knowledge production too is geared towards the transformation project.
Unfortunately, due to pressing demands on the fiscus to reduce the apartheid social backlog, we have not been able to allocate as much resources as we wish to the development of culture, heritage and the arts. Despite this limitation, important initiatives such as the National Film Trust, support to community arts and theatre, and various heritage projects are playing an important role in defining ourselves as a nation. In addition, the entrepreneurial activities of young musicians, producers, designers, poets, sculptors, comedians, writers have unleashed not only a flurry of activity asserting a distinct African identity, but also points to the large pool of untapped talent in our country.
- Post-NGC we have taken concrete steps to improve internal communications through organs such as ANC Today and through the report backs in RGC’s by the NEC. However, clearly much more needs to be done to improve our capacity to communicate effectively.
Creating a better Africa and World
Whereas the world is currently under the dominant sway of the capitalist system, with a growing divide between the rich North and the predominantly poor South and notwithstanding the recent setbacks suffered by the social democratic parties in Europe and the resurgence of the right-wing parties, we must continue and redouble our efforts to create a better climate for the pursuit of social transformation in our country, Africa and the rest of the world. Globalisation, in its structure and manifestations provide both opportunities and threats to our quest to build a better Africa, a more equitable and just world order and our own national project.
And, whereas during the late 80’s and early 90’s the neo-liberal proponents of globalisation hailed their world view as having won once and forever (hailing the end of history!), the Asian crisis of the mid-90’s have shaken this ideological certainty and arrogance in prescribing policies to the developing world. So have the changes in capitalism in the very backyard of the West, including the mobility of transnational corporations in search of cheap labour, the increased use of technologies and the pressures their own calls for free trade placed on a number of their domestic industries. As a result, Western governments are increasingly faced with and indeed bow to pressures from their electorate about rising unemployment, keeping cheap immigrant labour out, and keeping or introducing new protectionist measures for industries.
At the same time, Africa is taking important steps to position herself to achieve her renaissance. The moves towards greater regional integration, the efforts for Africa to resolve her own conflicts, the formation of the African Union and the support for NEPAD among our people, countries in Africa and the world, are important steps taken by the continent towards creating a more positive environment. This does not mean that there are no problems, constraints and challenges that still remain and can and will attempt to derail our endeavours.
The anti-globalisation movement has played no small part in putting the issues of a more just world order on the front pages and in the headlines of the world and national media. We need to engage with these to ensure that they understand our standpoint as South Africa, Africa and the South and, further, to ensure that these remain consistently progressive. Of course, social movements cannot become substitutes for an ideologically coherent and cohesive political movement, which is an instrument for the advancements of the interests of the poor and working people all over the world.
There is therefore more space for balanced debate about the range of policy options to address underdevelopment, economic growth, job creation and inequality.
A serious challenge to the international progressive forces has been created in the aftermath of September 11th. The global war against terrorism has created the intensification of war rhetoric and the increase of war budgets and resources. This has created space for certain countries to take unilateral decisions of the deepest implication for global peace and security and for the war against poverty and underdevelopment. Rather than intensify the war against terrorism, this has created ripe conditions for more violence and strife and the undermining of national sovereignty of poorer countries.
Unity of our people
Revolutions are about the mobilisation of the greatest possible masses of people to engage in their own liberation. The primary mission of the ANC therefore was, and remains, to mobilise all the classes and strata that objectively stand to gain from the success of the cause of social change. It is also called upon to win over to its side those who previously benefited from the system of apartheid: to persuade them to appreciate that their long-term security and comfort are closely tied up with the security and comfort of society as a whole.
- In pursuit of this mission, the movement during its 90 years engaged in a range of tactics:-
- Taking responsibility or the education, mobilistion and organisation of the motive forces into the ranks of the ANC or into mass sectoral formations;
- Entering into strategic alliances with organisations that shared its objectives;
- Building broad fronts at particular moments in pursuit of a particular short-term goal;
- Engaging with those from the other side with a view to convince them of the moral strength of our position.
This mission remains as relevant after as before 1994. However, the terrain in which the movement takes forward this task has changed. In the past we mobilised and united the motive forces, struggled alongside our strategic alliance partners, built and engaged sectoral formations and built broad issue-based fronts primarily as an extra-parliamentary national liberation movement;
Today, the ANC remains a mass-based liberation movement, which organises the people in their daily struggles for transformation, but is also the governing party, elected by those masses to lead the programmes of government.
- This new situation presented us with immense opportunities to engage mass sectoral organisations, NGO’s and other formations. These range from our approach to governance, which provide opportunities for participation in policy, legislation and implementation to the creation of statutory organs of people’s participation such as IDP’s SGB’s, CPFs, ward committees and so forth.
The new situation also resulted in a reconfiguration of how we view various power centres in society. Whereas before the democratic forces were almost exclusively found in the extra-parliamentary sphere, contesting other centres of power from this position, after 1994 we occupied all centres. Our position as both a ruling party and a mass based movement, imposes certain objective problems in our relation to civil society. For example, many civil society campaigns are explicitly aimed at lobbying or changing government policy. How does the ANC relate to such campaigns?
The progressive component of civil society (the mass sectoral formations, the unions, the liberation movement and the Alliance, some NGO’s, religious formations and so forth) were weakened considerably after 1994; because of the exodus of cadres to government, funding problems and difficulty with defining their role in the new situation.
Despite these setbacks, the advent of democracy created an enabling environment for the flourishing of civil society and the progressive component thereof, which remain a vibrant part of our society. In addition to traditional mass democratic formations such as SASCO, COSAS, SANCO, CONTRALESA, professional bodies, etc and democratic NGO’s, there have evolved a range of other organisations over the last few years. These include former NGO’s who were regarded as part of the other side and have transformed or are being transformed.
We have also seen the evolution of new issue-based organisations such as the TAC, Jubilee 2000, the BIG Coalition, and local community structures such as the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee and others. These issues-based organisations mobilise around genuine grievances in particular communities or sectors, yet tend to do this in opposition to the democratic government and often the ANC, because of subjective weaknesses on our side or because we have left a vacuum.
The context of a constitution that provides a framework for gender equality and a programme of government that seek to eradicate gender discrimination and oppression, have seen the flourishing of women’s organisations, groups and networks – organising around both practical and strategic gender needs. However, as a result also of our own weaknesses, we failed to give leadership to the broad women’s movement and to the Women’s National Coalition, with our women members participating in the plethora of women’s structures mainly in their individual capacity.
Particular sectors such as the religious community and the institutions of traditional leadership continue to play an important role in lives of the majority of our people. The new situation too has resulted in great possibilities not only for the recognition and freedom for all religions and the integration of the institutional leadership into our system of governance, but for these formations and institutions to play a profound role in shaping and contributing to the RDP of the soul, our sense of national identity and addressing the needs of the poorest and most marginalised amongst our people. Here too we need to emphasise the role of the sporting and recreation movement in contributing to the building of national identity and new values.
Our failure as the movement to engage civil society effectively has resulted in attempts by various forces (including the right and the ultra left) to appropriate civil society often with an agenda to build an opposition to the movement. Furthermore, failure in the Alliance to properly conceptualise and act on our resolution to build a broad movement for transformation has meant that COSATU and the SACP have to fight battles within a range of these civil society forums to hold at bay anti-ANC and anti-statist sentiments. More often than not, the ANC is either absent or excluded to engage with such forces on its programmes and the tactical choices we made as we implement the programme of national democratic transformation.
This, amongst other things, has resulted in such civil society forums mainly becoming anti-government platforms, instead of focusing on the role of civil society in the process of reconstruction and development. In the absence of strategic and political engagement from the ANC, civil society is more and more becoming an opponent, rather than a partner, of government
The developments post-1994 also affected the ANC itself. On the one hand, the masses of our people, and the motive forces in particular, maintained their confidence in the capacity of the movement to lead the struggle for a better life, returning it with a greater majority in each election. On the other hand, its capacity to maintain its branch structures, engage and lead the Alliance, to give leadership to sectoral formations and broader society too were undermined by funding and the exodus to government. In addition, the terrain of governance with its possibilities for patronage introduced a range of anti-people behaviour amongst its cadres including corruption and using positions in the movement to access resources, which impacted on the very character of the movement.
The new terrain also impacted on our strategic Alliance with the SACP and COSATU. Whereas this Alliance was at the forefront of bringing about the democratic breakthrough of 1994, it has seen serious lack of cohesion and the relationship has often been marked more by conflict than by cooperation over the last few years. This has been in part because of the objective situation in which each of the partners found themselves: the ANC as liberation movement and ruling party; the SACP having to rebuild itself and define its approach to the struggle for socialism following 40 years of illegality and the collapse of the socialist community of states; and COSATU faced with changes in the organisation of production and work, and the impact of the restructuring of the economy and state on its members.
The Tripartite Alliance forms the core of the revolutionary forces of the NDR. This core is led by the ANC, as the representative of all the classes and strata that stand to gain from the victory and consolidation of the NDR. The ANC’s leadership of the TPA does not derive from pursuing the narrow interests of a particular class or stratum, but rather the ability to unite these forces of change in practice, with emphasis on the interests of the poor. In the same vein, working class leadership of the NDR means, among others, articulation of its own far-sighted positions and at the same time defining a common platform for all the forces interested in democratic transformation.
Such class leadership is exercised critically through active participation in the ranks of the ANC and the rest of the mass democratic movement. It is leadership that should also find expression in the ability boldly to explain a given balance of forces and how to shift it. This demands the confidence and honesty to convince the workers about twists and turns in the practical conduct of struggle. Similarly, the principles of revolutionary working class organisation dictate that members of the SACP and COSATU should take active part at various levels of the ANC. At the same time, each of the leaders of the SACP and COSATU are, as members of the ANC, ANC leaders in their own right.
The unity of the Alliance is thus a strategic goal – which we need to work at all the time – to ensure that we have the cohesion to carry out the responsibilities and tasks of the NDR, often in the face of a sustained offensive against change. By defending our unity, we defend the fundamental forces required to bring about that change.
- The challenges facing us therefore as we prepare for 51st Conference include:-
- Strengthening the ANC, its unity and its capacity to mobilise the motive forces and to use the various centres of power to bring about a better life for all our people;
- Defining the key tasks of the NDR in the current period, the role of each Alliance partner in taking forward the tasks identified and to then implement a programme of the Alliance, jointly and individually, to take forward the tasks of transformation in each centre of power, in pursuit of the objectives of the NDR;
- Strengthen our capacity to do work and engage with sectoral formations, NGO’s towards building a broad movement for transformation.
Conclusion – what implications for Strategy and Tactics and our programme for the next five years?
The balance of forces suggests that despite the objective constraints and objective weaknesses we face, there are possibilities to advance more rapidly to ensure that our transformation is thorough-going.
The main challenge remains to maintain the character of the ANC as a revolutionary movement capable of leading the alliance and the broader democratic movement, and exercising power in all centres; mobilising progressive forces on the continent for Africa’s renaissance and the international community in support of a better world.
To carry out these tasks, as we said at the NGC, will require much more concerted efforts to develop and sustain the New Cadre, who will be capable, not only to understand and carry out the tasks of transformation wherever they are, but who sees the link between their narrow sectoral tasks and the broader project of social transformation.
The decade-long objective we have set for ourselves also raises the question whether we should, in our governance, whilst maintaining the drive of integrated development, identify a number of key areas that becomes the drivers of our efforts to eradicate the legacy of apartheid, colonialism, racism and sexism.
Finally, though we may not effect major amendments to the Strategy and Tactics, we certainly need to ensure that the strategic tasks of the NDR are more clearly elaborated, so that cadres and members wherever they are understand them and are able to implement them in a manner consistent with our ten-year objective.
It will also require that the NEC elected at Conference develops an implementation plan that will give effect to the tasks outlined in the S&T and to ensure that it engage with the Alliance and the broad democratic forces to ensure joint implementation of such tasks