South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Tripartite Alliance Summit

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7 April 2002


The Alliance Summit of the ANC, SACP, COSATU and SANCO, led by the leadership of the four organisations met in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni Municipality from the 4th to the 7th of April 2002. The delegations were made up of members of both the national and provincial/regional leadership of all the organisations.

The objective of the Summit was to assess the current national and global situation, the progress we are making in building a better life for all South Africans and the challenges we face in leading and accelerating the process of social transformation.

This Summit has followed a period in which there were serious tensions within our Alliance through the latter half of 2001. We have been addressing these problems in a series of constructive bilaterals and tripartite meetings, and this Summit is, in part, the product of these engagements. It is noteworthy that the Summit was not at all dominated by these tensions. The Summit has been characterised by a spirit of open engagement and debate, and by our sense of responsibility to our mass constituency which deeply cherishes the unity of our historic alliance. We have re-affirmed and consolidated our understanding of the profound strategic unity of our Alliance in this Summit.

The National Democratic Revolution

All components of the Alliance agree that the primary task of the current period is the implementation of the National Democratic Revolution. This common objective forms the foundation of the strategic relationship among our organisations. It is a perspective that has been forged in struggle over more than seven decades. The character of this NDR is articulated in key policy documents such as the Freedom Charter and the Strategy and Tactics of the ANC, the strategic objective of which is the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and democratic society.

The primary task of this epoch is the creation of a national democratic society. All the classes and strata which share this objective, as well as the schools of thought found in the democratic movement, see this as their current strategic objective. There is one NDR, at the core of which is the liberation of black people in general and Africans in particular. Among these classes and strata, the working class is the leading social motive force.

Informed by this perspective, the Alliance needs regularly to assess progress in the implementation of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, and devise ways in which we can accelerate the programmes aimed at eradicating poverty, speeding up economic growth and job-creation and introducing equity in all areas of life.

Domestic Balance of Forces

The Summit agreed that we were meeting in a period in which immense opportunities had opened up for us to accelerate the implementation of our programmes.

The ANC-led Alliance has consolidated critical elements of democracy and it enjoys mass support among the majority of South Africans. There is appreciation among the overwhelming majority -poor and rich, black and white, women and men, young and old, urban and rural, and persons of all religious persuasions – that further decisive steps need to be taken to improve the conditions of life of all the people, especially the poor. This is in the interest of South African society as a whole.

This period is characterised, too, by a creative examination across most sectors of society of the challenge to pool the country`s resources, both public and private, in the effort to grow our economy at a faster pace and further improve the material conditions of the country`s citizens. The possibility of decisive movement forward is also reflected in the fact that South Africans are increasingly joining hands to affirm our democratic constitutional order and to find ways in which they can make a contribution to national reconstruction and development.

However, these national objectives are hampered by the legacy of concentration of wealth in a few hands and, in some instances, the negative impact of the global financial system on the domestic economy. A combination of these and other factors, including problems of resources and capacity within the state, affect the pace at which we are able to eradicate the conditions of poverty, inequality, acquisition of skills, unemployment, crime, communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS and other social ills.

Critically, we undertake the project of social change in a situation in which the dominant platforms of social discourse, including the media, either do not share or do not fully understand the objectives of the NDR.

Combined with weaknesses in the organisational structures of the Alliance and mass democratic formations, and the tension that gripped the Alliance in the recent period, all these factors can undermine our joint efforts to restructure South African society.

International Balance of Forces

The Summit noted that positive developments had taken place in the global arena in the last few years, allowing for greater assertion of the agenda of developing countries and the poor worldwide. This is however counter-balanced by many unfavourable factors, which we need to continue to engage in the interest of social progress.

The system of global capitalism, including patterns of investment and trade, is deepening the gap between the rich and poor both within and among nations of the world; and there are intermittent financial crises whose negative effect is felt most keenly within developing countries. While the tendency among the rich nations, in addressing these serious global problems, is to tinker with the margins of the system, there is a growing global movement of developing countries, the working people and progressive elements in all parts of the globe whose voice is starting to make an impact.

We are also encouraged by the new confidence and determination across Africa to mobilise for the reconstruction and development of the continent, improve capacity to carry out such programmes, resolve conflicts, and introduce democratic systems of governance. While there may be difficulties in this trajectory, we are convinced that this historical movement is on the ascendancy.

We recognise our responsibility as the Alliance and the country to assist in strengthening the forces geared towards this objective. In this regard, it is our task responsibly to ensure that the influence and respect that our country enjoys is put to good use in promoting development in our own country, in Africa and among developing countries. At the same time, we need to protect our nation and our state against strategies aimed at subverting our programme of social transformation, and undermining our independent approach to critical global issues.

Consolidating the Alliance

The Alliance Summit approached its discussion on the character and state of the Alliance fully aware of the critical responsibility we have to lead the process of transformation in our country and contribute to the strengthening of efforts to build a humane world order. Unity, a sense of common purpose, the depth of understanding of our historical mission, activism, loyalty to the people -especially the poor – and commitment to international solidarity and joint action are some of the critical attributes that have placed the Alliance at the head of the forces of change in our country.

We are duty-bound by the realities of our history, the yearning of our people for a better life and the confidence that they have placed in the ANC and other components of the Alliance to ensure that these qualities continue to characterise the relationship among ourselves and our interaction with the motive forces of change, and with society at large.

In elaborating our detailed programmes of action and in managing tensions that may arise among us from time to time, the Alliance partners proceed from the premise that ours is a strategic political Alliance founded on a common national democratic programme. All organisations that are part of the Alliance accept the ANC as the leader of the Alliance.

Managing Intra-alliance Relations

Our organisations, though profoundly inter-dependent, are separate organisational formations with their own identities, policy-making mechanisms and internal organisational arrangements. In this regard, each component respects the independence of its allies.

The summit discussed a range of challenges emerging out of managing intra-alliance relations. In general it was agreed that none of these challenges, including the question of multiple mandates and overlapping membership, pose insuperable problems to the effective management and consolidation of the Alliance. It is a source of strength for the Alliance that many members of one partner are also members of other components.

Having examined the causes and the impact of recent intense public discord among some components of the Alliance, the Summit concluded that this was an unfortunate development which we should not allow to recur. We do acknowledge that it would be artificial to expect that tensions would not exist among and even within components of the Alliance. The challenge is how we manage them within our constitutional structures, and use them as a catalyst for the growth and maturity of our organisations.

There are, of course, some areas of economic policy in which debate will continue within and among components of the Alliance. These nonetheless should not detract from the substantive areas of agreement on accelerating growth and development. Where there are areas of difference, we are committed to resolving them through ongoing constructive debate and engagement within the context of our Alliance.

Policy Development and Implementation

It is agreed that the strategic mandate to all our organisations in the current phase derives from our commitment to the NDR as enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Strategy and Tactics documents of the ANC. Further, the ANC governs on the basis of a broad mandate broadly elaborated in the RDP and Election Manifesto

The policies and programmes of the Alliance are aimed to give expression to these objectives. It is critical that the process of policy development and implementation is informed on an on-going basis by this collective endeavour. It is agreed that more consistent discussion in the Alliance and tighter co-ordination is important to give effect to our common programme of social transformation. The Summit has directed the leadership of the Alliance to develop effective mechanisms to achieve these objectives. Guidelines will be developed to align these policy processes in a way which enriches, and does not impede, the decision-making processes of government.

Having reflected on all these matters, the Summit has elaborated the following Programme of Action for the coming period.


The core principles of our PoA

This Alliance Summit has agreed on a comprehensive programme of action for accelerating growth and development. The core principles of this PoA are:


  • Accelerating growth and development in our country is a central task of the NDR in the present phase;
  • This PoA needs to build on, and help to foster, the unity in action of our democratic government and our mass popular constituency. The resources, capacity and authority of government and the energies and aspirations of millions of South Africans need be harnessed together, now more than ever, for accelerated socio-economic transformation;
  • The success of our growth and development strategy depends critically on the unity and mass base of our ANC-led alliance. At the same time, our growth and development vision will be widely canvassed with a view to winning support and commitment from twidest range of forces, both domestic and international.
  • The imperative of mainstreaming gender into all aspects of our growth and development strategy, since women are the most severely affected by the poverty and inequality in our society, and can play a crucial role in accelerating growth and development core feature of our programme of action is also addressing other marginalised sectors, such as the youth and the disabled.

Towards a Growth and Development Summit

Over the coming months the Alliance will play an active role in ensuring the eventual success of the Growth and Development Summit announced by the President. The Alliance is committed to leading the process to ensure positive outcomes. The Alliance agrees that such a Summit should deal with a limited number of key issues, and should focus on concrete measures and specific contributions that each of the eventual participants (government, labour, business and other civil society organisations) will make to growth and development. This will be located within the framework of a broadly agreed development strategy which integrates our approach to key areas of policy, and may need to be pursued through sectoral summits.

Among the key issues that we agree should be considered for the Growth and Development Summit are:


  • Job creation,
  • Investment,
  • Greater social equity,
  • Price stability, and
  • Improved economic efficiency and productivity.

In the coming period, the Alliance will take forward the discussions and emerging agreements we have reached on these and other key issues, with a view to presenting unifying perspectives into the Summit. We will also set up processes and task teams, and engage the widest range of MDM and other progressive formations. This could culminate in a forum, convened by the Alliance, of broad MDM and progressive civil society formations, to create the broadest popular unity in advance of the Growth and Development Summit.

Our PoA for accelerating growth and development is not confined to preparations for, and the eventual convening by government and NEDLAC of, a Growth and Development Summit. Indeed, the success of this Summit itself depends on the ongoing mobilisation of government and popular forces around the following key areas:


The Summit agreed that addressing the serious problem of unemployment would have to be at the heart of the Growth and Development strategy.

We will develop more comprehensive strategies for employment creation. These need to be supported by more detailed analysis of the patterns of employment, job losses, and opportunities for job creation.

We will integrate the ILO concept of “decent work” into our programmes.

We will also intensify short-term programmes of employment creation.

Economic Restructuring In order to restructure the economy the Alliance will continue to elaborate the framework for collective economic action, including intensifying the efforts to reorient various sectors of our economy onto an employment-generating growth path, inter alia through the tripartite sector summits involving government business and labour.


The Alliance is committed to ensuring that the resources in the retirement industry, the life assurance industry, and other forms of savings, are more effectively mobilised for the provision of social and economic infrastructure, and labour-absorbing economic activities.

We will carry these perspectives through to the Growth and Development Summit, and into the Finance Sector Summit.

We will also actively use the presence of labour representatives on the boards of many of these funds to ensure the more effective strategic use of worker funds.

Skills and human resource development The Alliance agrees that there is the need to intensify human resource development.

Specifically, in the area of skills development, we will ensure through government and through the trade union movement that there is increased participation and the much more effective mobilisation of the SETAs. SETAs represent a major potential asset in our PoA for accelerated growth and development.


The Alliance will play an active role in helping to build a strong co-operative movement, as a means of promoting employment, redistribution and local and community empowerment.

Government needs to create a facilitative and supportive environment for the growth of co-operatives.

Spatial and local economic development

We will give high priority to the acceleration of the implementation of policy on urban, rural and local economic development strategies.

The implementation of this policy will be directly linked to the ongoing programmes of action of our Alliance local-level structures.

The struggle for a more equitable global economic and social order

Our PoA for accelerating growth and development within our own country is inextricably linked to the broader struggle for a more equitable global economic and social order.

This includes the struggle for:


  • more equitable global governance of international capital flow
  • equitable global governance of the international trade system
  • the campaign for the concept of global public goods
  • changing the system of governance of the environment to ensure that the needs of the South are more effectively accommodated; and
  • the principle of multi-lateral agreements, as opposed to persisting trends to unilateralism.

The Alliance and government will pursue these and other goals in our engagements with the IMF, World Bank, WTO, ILO, the UN, in our inputs into the WSSD, and in the numerous international forums and contacts in which each of our different formations is involved.

In this regard the summit noted the critical importance of the NEPAD initiative, and agreed that briefings and discussions should be held within the Alliance on NEPAD and the African Union, in pursuit of African development.

The convening of the WSSD and the summit of the African Union (AU) in our own country presents, in particular, an important challenge and opportunity. The Alliance will engage actively to maximise the impact of our strategic vision on the WSSD and the AU Summit.

Linking our Growth and Development PoA to local level mobilisational campaigns

All of the areas above link directly, in one way or another, to the local concerns and aspirations of communities.

The Alliance will actively link our Growth and Development PoA to ongoing mobilisational campaigns. In particular, we will link and strengthen the ANC-led letsema campaign in this way.

There are also many other Alliance and MDM campaigns around jobs, poverty, transforming the financial sector, and HIV/AIDS. We will link and strengthen these campaigns within the broader context of the struggle for growth and development.

Strengthening the unity and organisational capacity of our Alliance structures

The success of all of the above depends critically on the unity and organisational capacity of our Alliance structures.

This Summit has re-affirmed key decisions to ensure greater regularity of Alliance leadership inter-action, at all levels.

We have also committed ourselves to improving the co-ordination of Alliance policy development and implementation.


The Alliance Summit has placed the challenge of economic growth, development, job creation and poverty eradication at the centre of the challenges we face in the current period. Many other issues including the challenge of social delivery, capacity of the state, HIV/AIDS and the struggle of the Palestinian people for self-determination were also reflected upon. A resolution on the Palestinian qustion was adopted (see attached)

On the issue of HIV/AIDS, in particular, the Alliance reiterates its commitment to a comprehensive programme for prevention, treatment and home-based care, and recommitted itself to the ABC campaign. Further engagement is required on the detailed aspects of the treatment component of this programme.

This Summit of the Alliance marks an important stage in the consolidation of the organised forces at the head of the NDR. We are at one that significant progress has been made since the last Alliance Summit, including the overwhelming victory of the ANC in both the national and local government elections and the growing role of South Africa in world affairs. However, as the Summit discussions and decisions have confirmed, many challenges remain.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be briefing our structures at all levels, about the discussions and outcomes of this Alliance Summit. Strengthened by our deliberations over these past five days, we will be mobilising all our forces and our broader constituency to ensure that there is a decisive acceleration of growth and development in our country.

Discussions Documents

The Tripartite Alliance

The ANC is in an alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Each Alliance partner is an independent organisation with its own constitution, membership and programmes. The Alliance is founded on a common commitment to the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution, and the need to unite the largest possible cross-section of South Africans behind these objectives.