National General Council
Organisational Report by Secretary General Kgalema Motlanthe
30 June 2005
- This NGC takes place at the time of the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, the 20th Anniversary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the 50th Anniversary of the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU), as well as the 25th Anniversary of the Azanian Students Organisation (AZASO).
- The National Executive Committee decided that, given the organisational challenges that our movement faces, this report should focus on the state of our organisation. As such, we do not present a mid-term report and neither do we extensively review the implementation of governance programmes resolved at Stellenbosch. Rather, our focus and point of departure is the organisational challenges facing our movement as we traverse the path towards the centenary celebrations of the ANC in 2012.
A PEOPLE`S CONTRACT TO ADVANCE THE VISION OF THE FREEDOM CHARTER
- The theme of this National General Council – `A People`s Contract to Advance the Vision of the Freedom Charter` is the starting point for our discussions over the next three days. Fifty years ago, our people gathered in Kliptown to articulate their aspirations to political and economic justice, freedom and equality. The Congress of the People was itself the culmination of a participatory process involving thousands of volunteers who literally traversed the length and breadth of this country canvassing and recording views of virtually all sections of our people.
- Such a momentous event could not have taken place without the selfless dedication of the volunteers of the Congress movement, who fanned out across the country to mobilise and organise our people. These volunteers did not seek financial reward for their heroic endeavours. They were motivated by the quest for freedom and they were instigated by the determination to rise against and defeat all forms of injustice. They were disciplined members of a united movement, animated by an abiding loyalty to the African National Congress, the South African Indian Congress, Coloured Peoples Congress, Congress of Democrats and the South African Congress of Trade Unions. The ruling bloc was also invited but did not attend and chose to send a posse of the police in their stead. We are pleased that, fifty years later, at this National General Council we have been joined by former members of the New National Party, who have now embraced the Freedom Charter and become active members of this glorious movement.
- With this history and background comes the heavy responsibility of living up to the high standards set by our forebears, some of whom are still in our midst. Let us salute these veterans of our movement and continue to draw on their experience. The expectations on the ANC to provide leadership that measures up to these lofty standards do not only come from within the country but throughout Africa and the world, thus many look to the ANC to uphold these traditions.
- We must admit that this is a hard act to follow. We gave it our best shot in the April 2004 elections campaign but still fell short of gaining three-thirds majority. Nevertheless, the election showed that the ANC remains the best organised movement in the country. The manner in which we conducted door to door work, and mobilised thousands of volunteers for direct engagement with the people showed that no organisation can rival the ANC in terms of the depth and breadth of its activist base.
- But it is against the awesome measure of the heroes that preceded us that we must evaluate our own performance. The ANC came into existence before any of us. It will outlive all of us gathered here today. Our historic task is to carry this precious torch through the brief time we are given on earth, and pass it on undiminished to the generations that will follow. That torch, whose flame keeps aloft the hopes of our people, burns on the fuel of our own selfless contributions, which rest upon our acceptance of the values and conduct of our forebears: courage, generosity, honesty, self-sacrifice, humility, truthfulness, integrity and temperance.
- These are the values that must reside in the membership of the ANC, which is the foundation upon which the life of our movement rests.
MEMBERSHIP OF THE ANC
- Over the last ten years the membership of the ANC has become increasingly diverse, embracing strata and national groups that were previously less prominent.
- At the time of the 50th National Conference at Mafikeng the membership of the ANC stood at 385,000. At Stellenbosch at the 51st National Conference, membership had grown to 416,000. From data gathered at the most recent provincial conferences the membership has risen to 440,708. Provinces that have shown particularly strong growth in membership include KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo. Declines in the ANC`s membership are apparent in the Eastern Cape, North West and Northern Cape.
- Membership levels, it should be noted, continue to reflect the cycle in which numbers grow in the run up to provincial and national conferences, and decline thereafter. Table 1 shows the membership recorded for purposes of representation at provincial conferences in 2004 and 2005, and at national conferences in 2002 and 1997. However, at the time of the NGC physical audit of membership and branches, which was conducted in February 2005, the membership stood at 401,000. Addendum A contains fuller information on membership figures including those at regional level.
- The central question this raises is the extent to which ANC Members are active participants in the political life of the movement.
- The ANC has introduced a new membership system, with a simple one-page application form, which is readily available in branch, constituency and regional offices and can be downloaded over the internet. This replaces the old `recruiter pack` system, which was open to abuse by gate-keepers, who were able to direct recruitment in a selective manner. All provinces have been provided with computer servers. This means that once the application form has been completed, the membership fees deposited in the bank account, and the relevant information captured, provinces are able to print membership cards on the spot.
- The durable card, which includes a digital photograph of the member and an electronic strip, which can hold data, are also innovations that should enable us to streamline the management of membership data and other organisational requirements. It also enables members to pay their membership fees up to five years in advance. It is hoped that this will have the effect of stabilising our membership and stemming fluctuations and high turnover that was a feature of the previous system.
- Another potential advantage of the system is its capacity to quantify the demographic features of our membership. However, at present the application form does not capture information such as employment status, profession, and position in the ANC or contact numbers. We should adjust the system to improve it in this respect.
- The new membership system has resolved some of the difficulties experienced in the past with recruiter packs. However, new challenges have emerged. In particular, concerns have been raised that the system de-links the recruitment of members from our branch organisation. In instances where branches are politically weak, this has enabled people to exploit loopholes in order to capture branches and advance self-serving agendas.
- Already there are disturbing instances that have come to our attention. One example is the existence of blank membership forms which have a bank stamp, indicating that the non-existent members have had their membership fees paid for them. The only other piece of information on these forms is the date of membership, which is given as 2004 with the obvious intent that the `ghost member` should be constitutionally eligible to vote or stand for office in the movement.
- Only where functioning branches are able to draw existing and new
members into ongoing political work, can we hope to develop and build the
capacity of our membership to lead in tackling the complex challenges our
STATE OF THE BRANCHES
- At our 51st National Conference in Stellenbosch, we resolved that “the ANC branch remains the primary vehicle for maintaining and enhancing the mass based character of the ANC and for the implementation of the campaigns and programmes of the ANC”.
- The ANC`s most fundamental objective is to create a better life for all. There are many ways to assess our progress in building a popular formation that can respond to this challenge in conditions of democracy. But fundamentally, our strength as a movement must be assessed by the character and level of organisation of our basic unit, the ANC branch, which is strategically located in the midst of our communities. Before we can understand the organisational dynamics that exist at regional, provincial or national level, we must have a clear grasp of the state of our branch organisation.
- The table in addendum A provides a detailed breakdown of the membership and status of branches in each region. The physical audit conducted for the NGC revealed the number of branches in good standing, which means they have had an AGM in the last fifteen months and fulfil other constitutional requirements. Table 1 summarises this information, and also shows the number of branches that qualified to be represented at provincial conferences in 2004 and 2005.
- The NGC audit figures show the ANC has functioning branches in only 50% of the wards in the country. The presence and outreach of our branch structures is particularly low in the Free State, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng. The number of branches represented at provincial conferences recently is significantly higher, pointing to the need to tighten up our administration and monitor of the functioning of branches and their compliance with constitutional procedures.
- The ANC`s leadership of our society rests firmly on our presence in all communities. Our presence and outreach rests on branch structures and where these are non-existent it will be impossible for the ANC to play a meaningful role in the life of the community. It is therefore of great concern that in many regions less than half of the wards have branches in good standing. This will diminish our capacity to lead the nation and resolve the many problems that our people face in the struggle for a better life.
- Beyond adherence to constitutional requirements, the strength and character of our branches must be measured against the following criteria:
- Its role in mobilising communities around issues of local transformation and development;
- The engagement of the members in political programmes and campaigns;
- A high level of political consciousness and ongoing engagement with the important challenges of the moment;
- A united, cohesive leadership which provides strategic political direction;
- Its capacity to recruit and induct new members, and practically engage them in the political life of the branch;
- Its ability to effectively mobilise all available resources – including the skills, experiences and creativity of its members – in pursuit of the ANC programme;
- Its relationship with other sectors, community groups and influential community leaders, and its ability to build local partnerships for transformation;
- Its ability to concretise the general programme of action into a local plan of action in line with local conditions and community concerns;
- Its good relationship with, and ability to provide leadership to the Leagues and the Alliance (where such structures exist);
- Its ability to provide leadership and support to councillors and ensure they are accountable to the ANC and the entire community.
- To what extent do our branches live up to these ideals? In general we can identify three types of branches:
- First, there are the best-organised ANC branches in the country. These are branches that largely adhere to the criteria we have outlined above. The best amongst them have been decorated with the Sol Plaatje award for the best performing ANC branch. Addendum B contains a list of branches that have been awarded since 2002.
- Second, there are those branches that are generally active in the campaigns of the organisation and have been able to remain in good standing over the past three years. They are able to maintain their constitutional obligations and in some cases are involved in consistent implementation of mass campaigns in their communities, including the election campaigns.
- Last, there are branches that are launched prior to conferences and election campaigns, only to collapse a few months later.
- The picture of our branches is very uneven. In general, across all provinces, the best-organised branches are in the minority, with the vast majority functioning according to the basic minimum of constitutional requirements. In many of our branches there are no sustainable political programmes and community campaigns. They are conflict-ridden and unstable and in many instances fraught with fights over leadership positions, selection and deployment of councillors, tendering and control of projects and recruitment of membership in order to serve factional or selfish interests.
- In many cases, the reasons for division and the resulting lack of coherent and consistent branch organisation are not rooted in ideological differences. Rather, these problems rest primarily on the preoccupation on the part of public representatives with securing access to and control over public resources. This in turn leads to tensions between cadres deployed in ANC structures and those in government and undermines the effectiveness of our public representatives.
- In many areas, branches lack the coherence and initiative to implement their own programmes of action, which respond to the day-to-day challenges facing members of the communities in which they serve. This failure leads to the oft repeated perception that “ANC only comes at election time”, a perception fuelled by the weaknesses of our structures on the ground.
- The recent protests over municipal service delivery and other issues that should be of direct concern to our branches have exposed these shortcomings in a most visible and worrying manner. The reasons for these protests and the form they take has differed substantially in different communities. But they all point to a serious problem in the functioning of ANC branches and the related problem of the role of public representatives in the life of the movement. In most, if not all of these protests, it has been members of the ANC that have played a leading role in establishing parallel structures outside the movement, including in the form of `concerned residents` groups.
- The access to resources that public office entails can also often undermine our ability to represent communities. In some cases the majority of councillors, having declared their business interests, recuse themselves from meetings that must make important decisions on matters of community development. This means that the communities concerned cannot be represented at these meetings. In this context, we need to pose the question: is it correct for public representatives to have business interests, especially where these interests do not predate their assumption of public office, but have been developed while serving as a representative?
- Our branches and public representatives also need to understand that the struggle for a better life does not end once `delivery` has taken place. Once we have made progress in delivering something good like a house to a homeless family, we need to realise that this very delivery creates new needs amongst those that have benefited from it. Rather than boasting or gloating over our successful delivery, we must remain rooted in the midst of the community, ready to listen and understand the new needs and wants that emerge, so that we can continue to play an ongoing role in development and in the struggle for a better life. Where we do not have branches, this will be impossible.
- At the Stellenbosch conference we took an important decision that branches should form a quorum of at least 50% plus one of their membership when taking important constitutional decisions. This decision remains correct because it is absolutely vital that, if our movement is to be democratic, the principle must be upheld that decisions are taken by a majority of the membership. Where that majority is not present the principle of democratic organisation can easily be undermined.
- Many who do not understand this important principle of internal democracy, look for easy ways of avoiding compliance with this requirement. We have also come across instances where the regional leadership artificially imposed a ceiling on the size of branch membership to 120 members only in order to ensure that they can always secure a quorum with ease.
- Another common problem in the political practice of our branches is where Branch Executive Committees (BECs) meet on their own and never convene general members meetings to create the space or platform for members to participate in the political life of the organisation. In other words, their only concern for involving the membership is where an important constitutional decision is required, and the members can be used as voting fodder. Such an approach, where BEC members monopolise the political life of the organisation, will make it increasingly difficult to form a quorum in the branch since branch members are not involved in an ongoing way.
- At this NGC, it is vital that we look squarely in the mirror and ask ourselves the difficult questions. What is it that we have not done as a movement, which resulted in a situation where the leadership in some instances cannot be provided by our branches? Amongst the most serious causes for concern in the political life of our branches are the following questions, which need to be addressed by this NGC:
- Do we act, at every level of leadership, in line with the constitutional injunction that the branch is the primary unit of the organisation? Serious discussions need to take place about whether leadership, at every level, including elected ANC executive structures and public representatives, do indeed prioritise the building of strong branch structures of the movement.
- How have our structures at local level managed to balance the challenges that arise from the ANC`s dual role as a mass based liberation movement and a ruling party?
- At local level, does a position in a municipal government, which entails access to resources, undermine our capacity to build and develop strong, vibrant and activist branches?
- Do our branches have a continuous `political life`, beyond meeting their constitutional obligations to elect leadership and voting delegates to conferences? Do branches meet to discuss the political tasks associated with building a people`s contract to advance the vision of the Freedom Charter in their communities?
- Is our Alliance functioning at the local level, or are Alliance structures seen as alternative centres of power, wherein those that are not elected to executive positions or as public representatives are able to build alternative power centres, in which political differences come second to the battle for control over public resources?
- Recruitment of new members is a critical and ongoing task of all members. Care must be taken however, that the branch secretary is always informed about new recruits so that proper records can be kept at branch level.
- We should also pay increased attention to the important tasks of inducting, training and engaging those that have been recruited in ongoing political work. There are many ways in which we can learn from the Church. For example, do our branches introduce new members to the branch collective?
- For branches to meet the awesome challenges they face, they need resources. It would be helpful if 100% of the membership fees stayed at branch level.
- The branch is the only structure in the ANC where all members have a right to participate in the life of the organisation without having been elected or selected. The other structures of the movement are elected structures of leadership whose functions are to supervise, coordinate and support the branch structure. The most immediate level of leadership in this regard is the regional executive committee.
REGIONAL LEADERSHIP COLLECTIVES
- Most of our 53 Regional Executive Committees (RECs) have regular meetings with branch chairs and secretaries serving as ex officio members. Some of our regions are functioning exceptionally well and performing their duties in a proper manner.
- In the majority of cases however, RECs fail to exercise leadership and give support to the branches in an effective and dynamic manner. There are also cases where the RECs give selective leadership to branches that are seen to be supporting them. In the worst instances, branches that the REC regards as too critical are deliberately undermined by the REC, including through deliberate measures to ensure that branches do not quorate or finding other means to frustrate the work of the branches, especially in the run up to regional conferences.
- Problems can also emerge relating to the interface between regional structures of the ANC and municipalities. In some cases the relationship between the regional secretary of the ANC and elected officials in the municipality breaks down. In such cases it will be difficult for either the local government, or the branches of the ANC to effectively implement their programmes.
- Another important function of the RECs is with respect to the dissemination of information about the programmes and decisions of the ANC, as well as other materials, to the branch structures. In this respect there is great room for improvement.
- The Provincial Executive Committee`s role is to guide and supervise the regions and branches.
PROVINCIAL LEADERSHIP COLLECTIVES
- It is only against the background of a solid grasp of the dynamics at branch level that we can measure the performance of the ANC`s leadership collectives at the provincial level. In general, all our provincial leadership collectives function effectively and meet regularly. The elections of 2004 marked a decisive shift in that the ANC now controls governments in all nine provinces.
- However, many of our provinces are afflicted by common problems, which often relate to the relationship between provincial government and ANC structures. Amongst the problems that have emerged in several provinces are the following:
- The provincial conferences of the ANC are sometimes marked by leadership contests that divide branches and the province in general along factional lines.
- The relationship of trust between the Provincial ANC structures and the Provincial Executive Council breaks down for a number of reasons, and this had resulted in a `parallelism` between the ANC and government structures in the province.
- This division within the ANC, and the parallelism that exists between ANC and government means that the Alliance cannot be effectively consulted regarding matters of governance.
- In correcting these problems we would need to revisit the resolution we took at Mafikeng concerning the relationship between ANC constitutional structures and the institutions of governance. That resolution clearly spelled out how these relationships should function and identified the legislature caucus, under the direction of ANC constitutional structures, as a key site of collective discussion and agreement.
- Problems can also emerge where an appointed Premier contests the position of Provincial Chairperson and loses. This can sometimes result in tensions. This should not be the case because the Chairperson of the ANC in the province is not, in any case, a full time official. He or she can be employed in any profession, inside or outside of government. There is nothing about being Chairperson of the ANC that creates a right to be the Premier of a province. And there is nothing about being the Premier of a province that creates a right to be the Chairperson of the ANC.
- At the same time it is necessary that we clarify the relationships between the officials of the ANC and those in the provincial executive, including the Premier. This has changed somewhat as a result of our decision to de-link the appointment of the Premier from the election of the Provincial Chairperson of the ANC. Since that decision was taken we have observed continued contestation, which, in the worst cases, has been described as resulting in `two centres of power`.
- The clarification we must make is that it is the Provincial Secretary who, as the full time official of the ANC in the province, has the responsibility to lead and unite the ANC, whereas the Premier`s responsibility is to lead government. Both the Provincial Secretary and the Premier require each other to succeed, because neither the ANC nor the government can succeed in their programmes in isolation from each other. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to ensure a proper working relationship between these two respective leaders.
- In a case where a Premier is not an elected official of the ANC or the PEC or PWC, he or she should be immediately invited to sit as a full participant in all such structures.
- Elections at conferences are an instrument for strengthening organisation, not dividing it. In some cases, those who have contested elections retain their `lobby groups` after the conference, and fail to realise that, once elected, an ANC leader is responsible and accountable to the whole membership, including those who voted against that particular leader. Elected leadership must guard against relating to members as though they were only elected by a section of the membership. It should be understood that once so elected they have the responsibility to lead the entire membership of the ANC in the province.
- The Eastern Cape hosted the January 8th National Rally in Mthatha at the beginning of this year. Opposition to the ANC in the province is weak and has become further disunited after our overwhelming election victory in April 2004. But, although the ANC retains its position of the leader of all the people of the province, internal dynamics within the movement and a low level of management capacity and skills at both provincial and local level have led to problems in advancing our social and economic agenda.
- This is particularly worrying because of the high levels of poverty and joblessness, which are exacerbated by the slow pace of service delivery in respect of water, sanitation, electricity and housing. As noted already, the province has experienced a sharp decline in membership and the majority of wards do not have functioning branch structures.
- Many of the problems described above were apparent in the Eastern Cape. There was, in particular, a pronounced problem of division between ANC constitutional structures and institutions of government. Divisions following provincial conferences led to perceptions that the `grouping` that had lost the leadership contest was `settling organisational scores` through deployment to structures of government.
- We are satisfied that, following national intervention, the province has come a long way in resolving these problems. Our approach involved working together with the Provincial Secretary and Deputy Secretary in order to begin a process of ongoing work, involving continuous meetings and communication with all ANC structures, the leagues and the alliance structures at provincial, regional and branch level. This work is being continued by the PEC without direct national intervention. It is important that the NEC deployees to the province become more involved in this work. Their efforts, together with that of the province, should, in particular focus on consolidating the branches in the O.R. Tambo Region, in preparation for the regional conference, which has been postponed several times.
- The Ukhahlamba and Alfred Nzo regions have a number of communities and branches that are adjacent to the towns of Kokstad and Matatiele, which fall under the province of KwaZulu Natal. Although many of the residents of these communities work in these towns, they are unable to access public services there, since they are told to go to Mthatha. The Premiers of the respective provinces, together with the Minister of Provincial and Local Government, are seized with the matter.
- In the Free State, many of the problems encountered in the Eastern Cape are also present. In many instances, however, these problems take an even more virulent and divisive form. As with the Eastern Cape, interventions by the national office have focussed on ensuring the unity of comrades deployed in government with the organisation. Significant progress has been made at the provincial level, but further work is required at the regional and branch level. The hands on approach of the NEC members deployed to this province is bearing positive results.
- The ANC remains the most active, vibrant and largest political formation in the province. In addition to the vast election victory in April 2004, the province has made progress in extending our appeal in the white community, through intensive sectoral outreach programmes. Branches have also been active in Letsema campaigns and continue to provide political leadership in structures such as ward committees, Clinic Committees, Community Policing Forums and other structures.
- Nevertheless, the political problems in the province have contributed to the failure of branches to develop their own locally oriented programmes, and this lack of organisation has partly accounted for the mushrooming of `concerned groups`. As is the case in the Eastern Cape, political divisions within the movement and the failure to root branches in their communities, combined with a lack of skills and management capacity have had a detrimental impact on services delivery. In some of the service delivery protests that have taken place, cadres and structures of the ANC, the leagues and alliance organisations, including in some cases public representatives, have played a leading role.
- The results of the 2004 election saw the ANC consolidating its position in Gauteng and suggest a significant widening of the ANC`s support, with constituencies that were previously hostile voting for the movement in greater numbers than before. But there is no room for complacency. In 2004 fewer people voted for the ANC than in 1999. This must be cause for concern in a province where the population grows at 4% a year. Lower turnout of ANC supporters was notable in townships and informal settlements.
- The compact nature of the province and its economic strength endow it with many advantages, including access to infrastructure and skills in abundance. On the other hand the complexities and contradictions of the province are highly challenging.
- Gauteng is worthy of study by other provinces as a model for the relationship between the ANC and government. Interventions by the national executive committee to overcome the problems of factionalism that had plagued the province in earlier years have clearly borne fruit. Unity at the provincial level has enabled the province to drive an ambitious programme of political and economic development.
- The launch of the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication at Kliptown last week stands as a beacon to what the ANC can achieve where we are united and cohesive as a movement. All levels of government, united with the structures of the movement, were able to guide and direct a project that has visibly transformed the lives of thousands of people, and created a new hope for the growth and development of the surrounding townships. The project stands out in that it was not conceptualised in terms of `township` standards. The scale of its design is such that, if Soweto was burned down and a new city was built, the Kliptown site would continue to stand as an inspiration to the new city.
- Lower than expected voter turnout and the lack of functioning branches in most wards show that the province needs to redouble its efforts to build a strong ANC, rooted in all our communities.
- In KwaZulu Natal, the defeat of the IFP in the 2004 election marked a decisive turning point in the balance of forces in the province. The election campaign, which was boosted by the successful holding of the January 8th National Rally in 2004, saw an intense mobilisation of volunteers who extended the gains of democracy deeper into the province.
- The membership of the ANC has been steadily growing, and clearly the potential is there to make the ANC the natural political home for all the people of KwaZulu Natal. Amongst the new members of the ANC in the province are white farmers, who have themselves acted to recruit more members into our ranks. As a consequence of these gains, the possibilities for enduring peace and democratic governance have never been better.
- The struggle to consolidate these gains must continue to invoke the maximum unity in action amongst the ANC and the Alliance in the province. Following tensions and instability that occurred within the provincial leadership collective at the time of the 4th provincial conference, a concerted programme to overcome division and create a cohesive leadership has been undertaken. This will go a long way to putting the province on the proper footing to confront the enormous challenges that the movement faces in KwaZulu Natal.
- The stature and support of the ANC in Limpopo province has gone from strength to strength. It is not an accident that there have been a number of former opposition leaders swelling the ranks of the movement. In recent times comrades Kingsley Masemola, Maxwell Nemadzivhanani and Schalk van Schalkwyk have swelled our ranks. The official opposition only garnered 3.5% of the vote in the last election and the province reports that we are making significant inroads in the white community.
- The Limpopo province had for some time been afflicted by serious problems of unity and cohesion, which related in part to factional tendencies, tribalism and chauvinism. Following national interventions the province was able to establish a united leadership.
- Political education, and the conscious re-introduction of a culture of debate has strengthened the provincial leadership and other levels of the organisation. It is hoped that last weekend`s provincial conference will further strengthen this unity. Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces were able to implement the NEC decision with regards to cross boundary municipalities.
- In Limpopo, like in many other provinces, the implementation of Free Basic Services has lagged behind. This has been the result, in part, of lack of capacity, problems that are compounded by a weak municipal revenue base. Also of concern is the inability of ANC branches and government structures to ensure proper communication and feedback to our people.
- Given the vastness of the province, the establishment of structures such as village committees to assist BECs with coordination has the potential to greatly improve our involvement in the lives of the people.
- In Mpumalanga our overwhelming election victory has consolidated our political position. The ANC`s influence among the different sectors of society is continuing to grow and the movement is thus faced with the challenge of having to find creative organisational ways of maintaining closer interaction with these sectors.
- The provincial conference had to be repeatedly postponed due to credentials problems. In part this related to the rearing of the ugly head of fraudulent membership practices. The province was able to handle these problems, with the assistance of the NEC deployees. Now that the provincial conference has been held, we believe the province has established a firm basis on which to address the issues of unity and cohesion in the movement. The membership of the province has also increased.
- The overall performance of PEC deployees in the regions has, like in many other provinces, not been satisfactory. Partly this is because their roles and functions have not been clearly defined and understood by regional structures.
- The challenges of transforming local government in the province remain immense due to generally low skills levels of public representatives and low management capacity. During the 2004 election campaign, our volunteers received many delivery complaints from communities and the organisation committed itself to strengthening the performance of our municipalities after the election. This is not surprising given the problems in relation to billing systems, the non-existence of indigent policies and general non-delivery on free basic services.
- As in all other provinces, the ANC is the biggest and strongest political formation in the Northern Cape. It enjoys popular support throughout the entire province. In addition to our strong base in African and Coloured communities, we have started to make inroads in white communities. The emergence of the Independent Democrats as the third least small party in the province has led to polarisation in some communities as its tactics often rely on the ethnic factor.
- The Northern Cape has generally continued its good performance over the last few years. The PEC has been and continues to be effective in an ongoing basis in ensuring its members are deployed to the various regions as part of continued assistance and strengthening of lower structures. This approach strengthened the regions and enabled our structures to carry out their organisational tasks and provide immediate solutions to some political problems. However, the programme of branches to involve the general membership in the day to day life of the branch needs serious attention -much still needs to be done.
- We must also be vigilant about our unity, particularly the unity of ANC` s constitutional structures and the institutions of governance. The problem related to access to and control of public resources in this province is particularly acute since government is the only major employer. The manner in which the various issues relating to cross boundary municipalities are handled, will also be crucial for the future of the province. Indeed, it could even result in the disappearance of the province altogether.
- The North West has made good progress with regard to building unity and cohesion in the movement. This has been achieved by ongoing political discussions at all levels as well as political work. The province will lose and gain certain areas in terms of the decision to end cross boundary municipalities.
- However, much more work is needed to build organisation. After the January 8th Celebrations in Rustenburg the PWC developed a programme of visits to regions. The following issues were observed as common to all regions:
- here was lack of a political education programme in most branches, and RECs do not prioritise branch induction and political development.
- The membership declined in most branches. c) Most of the branches that were launched in 2001 and 2002 have collapsed and there was no programme to address the situation.
- These problems are certainly not peculiar to the North West.
- The Western Cape saw a decisive shift in the balance of forces over the last few years, culminating in the ANC gaining 47% of the vote in the 2004 election, making it possible for the movement to form a government in cooperation with the NNP.
- In order to consolidate these gains it is essential that the ANC intensify provincial and local mobilisation to accelerate that pace of service delivery and the depth of mass participation. Consequently, the province needs to build an integrated approach to provincial and local strategies in both the ANC and the structures of government.
- However, political cohesion and unity in the province continues to be a source of serious concern. The existence of two camps or factions suggests a power struggle based on the failure of the province to deal adequately with underlying and long standing political problems. These include the need for open and frank debate within the ANC on a range of matters, including the national question.
- Furthermore, the relationship between the ANC constitutional structures and those of governance institutions needs clarification in the province. It is notable that when the ANC was in opposition in the province, we were united into a cohesive force. Now that the ANC has access to and control of public resources, the demon of factionalism has quickly reared its ugly head. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that tenders and contracts must account for at least a part of the problems experienced in the province.
THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE AND SUB-COMMITTEES
- The National Executive Committee (NEC) elected at the 51st National Conference in Stellenbosch in December 2002 has been responsible for overseeing the implementation of conference resolutions and providing leadership to the movement.
- The NEC has met at least once a quarter since conference. Most NEC meetings have an `extended` session, which includes non-NEC members who are national government ministers or deputy ministers, premiers, presiding officers, deputy presiding officers, chief whips or deputy chief whips of the National Assembly or National Council of Provinces, chair of national caucus, or parliamentary advisors to the President and Deputy President.
- The meetings, which have generally been well attended, have addressed a range of issues covering governance and organisational matters. They have also addressed the national and international tasks of the movement. The NEC remains a site of dynamic, rich and often animated political discussion, which reflects the long-standing traditions of internal democratic debate within the movement. The NEC continues to provide valuable direction to the organisation and to the work of the ANC in government and in other sites of engagement.
- However, the NEC would be the first to acknowledge that it could improve the manner in which it functions. The depth and value of discussions in the NEC could benefit from better preparation and better structured discussions. The lack of such preparation reflects to some extent on the functioning of the NEC sub-committees.
- As a matter of practice, the NEC communicates the content of its deliberations and decisions to ANC structures and the broader public through mechanisms like the NEC Bulletin and post-NEC media briefings. The ANC national caucus also receives briefings after NEC meetings, although this has not always been consistent. While the NEC Bulletin is distributed to provincial offices, it is difficult to establish how widely it is distributed beyond this level and whether it reaches branches of the ANC. Although NEC decisions often receive wide coverage in the mainstream media, they are often presented in a manner which favours sensationalism over content. There is therefore a limit to which the mainstream media can be relied upon to accurately reflect on the deliberations and decisions of NEC meetings.
National Working Committee
- The National Working Committee (NWC) was elected at the first NEC meeting after Stellenbosch. It consists of the six Officials, the Presidents of the ANC Women`s League and Youth League, and an additional 15 members. Members of the NEC deployed at headquarters also sit on the NWC in an ex officio capacity.
- The NWC meets every two weeks, and provides day-to-day political direction to the organisation. It processes matters for the consideration of the NEC, and oversees implementation of NEC decisions. It also undertakes any tasks delegated to it by the NEC.
- The NWC has met regularly and functioned effectively since the Stellenbosch conference. It has been aided in its work by the weekly meeting of the Officials. Together, the Officials and the NWC have been relatively effective in providing ongoing political direction to the movement.
- One of the issues that the NWC and the Officials has been seized with in recent weeks are the matters relating to the charges brought against the Deputy President of the African National Congress, comrade Jacob Zuma.
- The situation that has arisen is without precedent in the history of our organisation, and, as such, presents the organisation, its members and its leaders with challenges of a nature that have not been confronted before.
- One of the defining features of the African National Congress is its sensitivity to the humanity of all people. The ANC is a caring organisation, whose political and ideological positions are underpinned by a deep emotional attachment to and appreciation of the value of all life.
- As a caring organisation, the ANC is equally capable of feeling and experiencing pain.
- The leaders, members and supporters of the ANC are, understandably, greatly pained by the events of the last few weeks. It is a pain that each and every individual feels most acutely. We must understand this and appreciate it.
- In approaching these matters the organisation needs to be guided by the need to maintain the unity, cohesion and organisational integrity of the movement; the responsibility to provide leadership to society on matters of public probity; and the need to defend and uphold the rights of all affected individuals, both in their capacity as members of the ANC and as citizens of South Africa.
- The matters to which we refer here, and which have occupied much public space in recent weeks, have as the most immediate root the judgement of the Durban High Court in the case of the State v Schabir Shaik, which was handed down on 2 June 2005.
- In its response to the judgement, the ANC made the following public statement:
“The African National Congress has noted the verdict handed down today (2 June 2005) in the Durban High Court in the fraud and corruption trial of Schabir Shaik.
“The ANC has maintained throughout this matter that the due process of law must be allowed to proceed without let or hindrance, and that the basic principles of justice – including the right to presumption of innocence -should be observed.
“The ANC therefore appreciates the role of the court in affirming the rule of law as an integral part of our democratic constitutional order.
“This is a further signal of the integrity of the country`s legal system, and an affirmation of the maturity of our democracy.
“The ANC will comment further, if necessary, after studying the judgement.”
- Given that the judgement made certain categorical statements on the issue of the relationship between Schabir Shaik and the Deputy President of the country, Cde Jacob Zuma, the government undertook to study the judgement and make any necessary pronouncements thereafter.
- Shortly before he left for Chile on a state visit on 6 June 2005, in his capacity as President of the country, President Thabo Mbeki announced that on his return he would study the judgement, and announce such decisions as may be necessary arising from the judgement.
- On 14 June 2005, President Thabo Mbeki addressed a joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament. Among other things, the President said:
“The Constitution enjoins the President in particular to “uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic; and promote the unity of the nation and that which will advance the Republic”. It further prescribes that all spheres of government and all organs of state should “respect the constitutional status, institutions, powers and functions of government in the other spheres.”
“Among others, and relevant to the reason I requested this Joint Sitting, the Executive must discharge its responsibilities within the context of the rule of law, which includes respect for the integrity and independence of the judiciary and presumption of innocence of any person, pending findings of the courts. Similarly, we also have to respect decisions of our Parliament.
“These obligations are expressly reflected as personal undertakings and are immanent in the Oath of Office for those taking up executive positions in government. They are especially important with regard to the President of the Republic, who, in terms of our Constitution, is the head of the National Executive and on whom the executive authority of the Republic is vested…
“I have carefully studied the Judgement[in the case of The State vs Schabir Shaik and Others]. I did this fully to inform myself about Justice Squires` findings, given the fact that the issue of the relationship between the Deputy President, the Honourable Jacob Zuma, and the accused had been canvassed during the trial.
“In this regard, I must emphasise that I studied this Judgement not to make any determination whatsoever about its merits or demerits, about whether it was wholly or partially right or wrong. Indeed, such conduct does not fall within our constitutional mandate as the Executive. This task belongs to the higher courts, the organs of state that would hear any appeal that might be lodged.
“Accordingly, any actions we may take arising out of Justice Squires` Judgement would arise merely from the fact that a court judgement exists, which our Constitution enjoins us to respect.
“As Honourable Members would know, the judgement contains detailed matters of fact and inference against which penalties have been meted out. At the same time, proceedings pertaining to a possible appeal to higher courts are still pending. However, the Judgement contains some categorical outcomes.
“These are that the court has made findings against the accused and at the same time pronounced on how these matters relate to our Deputy President, the Hon Jacob Zuma, raising questions of conduct that would be inconsistent with expectations that attend those who hold public office.
“In this regard, I would like to emphasise two basic pillars of our jurisprudence, namely, equality before the law and the right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
“We are of the firm view that this principle applies to the Deputy President not merely as a matter of principle and common decency, but also in deference to the individual occupying such office and the service that he has rendered to the Republic and its people before and after the attainment of our liberation. Unambiguous as the judgement may be about an assumed unsavoury relationship, the Deputy President has yet to have his day in court.
“Also, noting the fact that there are processes underway to lodge an appeal, we are obliged to allow the steady grind of the due process of law to run its course without let or hindrance, respecting the provisions of our Constitution in this regard…
“We have had no precedent to guide us as we considered our response to the Judgement by Justice Squires. We have therefore had to make our own original determination on this matter guided by what we believe is in the best interest of the Honourable Deputy President, the Government, our young democratic system, and our country.
“I am fully conscious of the fact that the accused in the Schabir Schaik case have given notice of their intention to lodge an appeal. I am equally aware that a superior court may overturn the Judgement handed down by Justice Squires.
“However, as President of the Republic I have come to the conclusion that the circumstances dictate that in the interest of the Honourable Deputy President, the Government, our young democratic system, and our country, it would be best to release the Hon Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as Deputy President of the Republic and Member of the Cabinet.”
- This address was preceded by an extended meeting of the ANC National Working Committee, which included ANC Provincial Chairpersons and Secretaries and the Office Bearers of the SACP, COSATU and SANCO, at which the President briefed the extended NWC on his decision. At the same extended NWC, the Deputy President informed the meeting of the importance of him also withdrawing from Parliament as an MP.
- The Extended NWC issued the following statement on the afternoon of 14 June.
“The African National Congress accepts and supports the decision of President Thabo Mbeki to release Deputy President Jacob Zuma from his duties in government.
“The ANC understands this decision has been taken following careful consideration, in the best interests of democracy and effective governance, and with due regard to the integrity of all the institutions of our constitutional order.
“The ANC reaffirms that the Deputy President and the entire leadership of the Alliance accept and support the decision of the President.
“This decision is also consistent with the principle of the rule of the law – including the right to presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.
“Such an occasion cannot pass without acknowledging and applauding the outstanding contribution that Comrade Jacob Zuma has made in the position of Deputy President of the country, both in the execution of his responsibilities at home and in the groundbreaking work he has undertaken on the continent.
“This decision places a responsibility on all leaders and members of the ANC and its Alliance partners to provide clear direction and exemplary leadership in ensuring that the programmes of government and the tasks of the Alliance continue to be the focus of the work of all our structures.
“The ANC calls on all sections of society to appreciate and respect the solemn responsibility of government to act in the interests of effective governance, to safeguard the integrity of our democracy, and to respect the decisions of our courts.
“Comrade Jacob Zuma remains the Deputy President of the ANC, and will continue to receive the support of the ANC in the course of his work in this position.”
- On the same day (14 June), following the President`s announcement in Parliament, the Deputy President of the ANC issued a statement, which said:
“President Thabo Mbeki has taken a decision regarding my presence in Government and Cabinet. It is the President`s prerogative to take such a decision, in the context of, and within his authority as the President of the Republic. I accept and respect his pronouncement.
“I believe he has taken this decision not because he believes I am guilty of any crime, but because of considerations relating to the constraints within which government operates.
“In light of this decision, I have also offered to resign my seat in Parliament, not as an admission of guilt of any kind, but in order to make it easier for the ANC and government to function in Parliament.
“As stated before, let me reiterate that my conscience is clear. I have not committed any crime against the State or the people of South Africa. I however still maintain that I have been treated extremely unfairly throughout the entire debacle for about half a decade.
“Throughout this period, I did not use my position in government in any way to interfere with the due process of law, because I believe in, and cherish our democracy and Constitution. I believed that organs of state and other role players would be guided by the principles in our Constitution.
“But contrary to this, I have been tried by the media and in effect found guilty by a court in absentia. I have not been given an opportunity in an appropriate forum to defend myself against the allegations made. Yet our Constitution states that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
“I sincerely trust and hope that those authorised to take decisions – at whatever level – will act within a reasonable period with regard to the conclusion of this matter. I need to be given an opportunity to tell my side of the story, and bring finality to these accusations and speculations.
“All said and done, I believe that we should put national unity and the interests of our country and nation first – whatever views people may have about the President`s decision and the Durban court judgment.
“I have dedicated all my life to serving the people of this country, and to working for a better South Africa. I am determined to continue serving my country in whatever capacity and role, and remain ready to make whatever sacrifice necessary for our country.
“We fought for many decades for our liberation, and have worked tirelessly -at great personal cost – to establish our hard-won democracy. We have also over the last 11 years laid a firm foundation for a prosperous and successful country.
“Therefore, we all have a duty to protect and defend this democracy and the gains we have made. I shall continue to contribute to this national task, as a citizen of our beautiful country, and as a disciplined member of the African National Congress, as well as ANC Deputy President.
“I would like to extend my deepest and sincere gratitude to President Mbeki who gave me an opportunity to be his Deputy, and with whom I have shared many years of comradeship and work in the struggle, under very difficult conditions.
“I look forward to continuing to work with him as his Deputy in the African National Congress, in the reconstruction and development of our country.
“I would like to thank all the people of South Africa for the support given to me during my tenure as Deputy President of the Republic.
“It has been an honour and privilege to be given such a responsibility, and a truly rewarding experience to serve the people in this capacity.
“I thank all colleagues in Cabinet and government, including staff in the Presidency for all their support in my work. I also would like to thank the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces.
“I extend my gratitude to all Comrades in the ANC and the Tripartite Alliance in general, and ANC MPs in particular, who have been a pillar of strength to me during my time in Parliament.
“I also thank members of opposition parties in Parliament, who have always made my work a pleasant challenge, through Questions as part of their oversight duty and ensuring that there is accountability in government.
“I am also indebted to various stakeholders for their support in my work -the labour movement, business community, traditional leaders, religious leaders, women and youth to mention just a few.
“I also thank the international community for supporting our work at various levels including peacemaking and peacekeeping.
“Let me reiterate that all of us should put national unity and the national interest above everything, as we grapple with these difficult matters. Our freedom and democracy are more important than us as individuals.
“Let us continue working together to build our country and to strengthen our democracy.”
- Just under a week later, on the morning of 20 June, Cde Zuma was advised by the National Director of Public Prosecutions that the National Prosecuting Authority would be bringing charges against him, including two counts of corruption.
- The National Working Committee, which was meeting that afternoon, was advised of this development through the Secretary General, who additionally conveyed the request of the Deputy President to withdraw, pending the completion of the legal process, from participation in the National Executive Committee of the ANC, as well as the NWC, the officials, the deployment committee and branch structures of the ANC.
- The organisation continues to consult our Deputy President on a range of issues and will remain engaged in dynamic and ongoing contact with him.
- In a statement released after the meeting, the NWC indicated that it had accepted Cde Zuma`s request. It also indicated that Cde Zuma would retain his position as ANC Deputy President.
- The NWC statement continued as follows:
“The ANC has also noted the announcement today by the National Prosecuting Authority of its intention to charge[Cde] Zuma on two counts of corruption.
“The ANC views these charges in a serious light, and reiterates its position that the law must be allowed to take its course without let or hindrance.
“In its approach to this matter, the ANC is informed by the need of all South Africans to demonstrate respect for the legal process and for the rights contained in our Constitution. These include the right of every individual to a fair trial and to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
“The NWC called on all members of the ANC to maintain the organisational discipline and high standards of political conduct that have characterised the movement even during the most difficult periods in its history.”
- The NWC also considered it important to respond to some of the comments that had been occupying the public domain during that period. The statement said:
“Despite the difficulties of the current period, the ANC remains united behind its leadership, and is firm in its resolve to continue to act in a manner which strengthens and deepens democracy.”
- In considering the way forward on this matter, the following should be noted:
- That the events of the last few weeks had been both difficult and challenging for the organisation, and had the potential to cause confusion and doubt among the rank and file of the broader democratic movement.
- That the NEC, as the highest decision-making structure of the ANC between conferences, would need to remain seized with these matters, and provide the necessary political direction to structures, members, supporters and the broader South African public.
- The NEC, which had an opportunity to meet and discuss these issues over the last two days, reaffirmed the support of the movement for Cde Zuma. The confidence which the members of the ANC has in his leadership remains undiminished.
- The law must be allowed to take its course, without fear or favour. In accordance with basic principles of justice, Cde Zuma must continue to be presumed innocent of any wrongdoing until found otherwise.
- In this context, the President and the Deputy President of the ANC advise that this NGC should agree on the following with respect to three central issues:
- The first of these is the decision of the President of the Republic to release Cde Zuma from his responsibilities in government. This matter falls within the constitutional prerogative of the President of the country. The NEC must continue to be siezed with this issue.
- The second of these is the case brought against Cde Jacob Zuma by the state. This matter needs not be raised as a point for discussion within the organisation until such time as the due legal process has run its course.
- The third of these issues is the request by Cde Zuma to withdraw from participation in ANC structures pending the outcome of the legal process, a request which has been accepted by the NWC. This is a matter which can and should be discussed within the organisation, once the NEC has properly prepared for the discussion.
- Therefore, this NGC, in its wisdom, should mandate the NEC to continue dealing with this matter and interacting with the Deputy President of the ANC in the manner we have been doing.
- As this NGC, acknowledging and appreciating that the organisation is in pain, we should agree on the above approach in line with the overriding objective of preserving the unity and cohesion of the ANC.
- The ANC has been faced with many daunting challenges in the course of its 93 year history. It has responded to each of these challenges responsibly, humanely, rationally and politically. The NEC is confident that by drawing on these defining characteristics of the movement, the ANC will be able to meet this challenge, and ensure that the organisation emerges stronger, more united and more capable of waging the struggle to ensure the complete liberation of all South Africans.
- The NEC committees are responsible for the preparation of policy-related and organisational matters to put before the NWC and NEC. They are also responsible for the implementation of tasks assigned by the NWC or NEC, and for ensuring ongoing interaction between the ANC and other relevant sectors of society.
- The functioning of these committees is extremely uneven. Some committees have regular meetings and engage with substantive matters. Others barely function, if at all.
- There are a number of problems common to most committees. Given the responsibilities of most committee members – most of whom are in the executive of government – there are ongoing problems of scheduling meetings when all members are available. There is also a tendency for members of the policy-related committees to participate in these structures wearing their `government hat` – attending to issues as they would their own particular line function responsibility, rather than as members of the ANC`s national leadership collective. As a consequence, several of the committees are limited in their ability to give strategic political direction on policy issues.
- These committees also have to contend with a lack of policy and administrative support. Administrative support for NEC committees has been distributed among headquarters staff, all of whom have other areas of primary responsibility. This affects the ability of the committees to function optimally and severely limits their capacity to commission policy research to inform their work.
- One of the most important tasks of the NEC committees is to engage a broader range of stakeholders in policy discussion and debate, both to inform other stakeholders about the policies of the ANC and ensure that the ANC policy process benefits from a wide range of inputs. The Elections Committee has played an important role in reaching out to sectors such as the Afrikaner, Jewish and Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese communities. However, in general, with the exception of the Economic Transformation Committee and the Elections Committee, the NEC committees have not been able to fulfil this function effectively.
Role of NEC members in support to structures
- All NEC members have been deployed to a province to do organisational support work. Each set of provincial deployees is headed by a convenor and supported by the Provincial Secretary. NEC provincial deployees are required to provide political direction to lower structures, to support the implementation of the programme of action, and to assist in cadre development and organisation building.
- The functioning of NEC provincial deployees is uneven. Some deployees attend to their responsibilities dutifully and consistently. Others are barely seen in the provinces, let alone the regions or branches. Some NEC provincial committees operate as a cohesive unit, while others are not well coordinated.
- Provinces report that certain NEC deployees are generally always available for Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) meetings, Provincial General Councils (PGCs) and Provincial Conferences, and that these deployees contribute effectively on these occasions. However, there is a general concern that the participation of NEC deployees is largely limited to these provincial-level events. Outside of the election campaign, it is difficult to get deployees involved in other organisational work.
- There is however a general problem – which relates to all areas of NEC work – of the inability of NEC members to schedule sufficient time in their programmes to undertake organisational work. This is not simply limited to members of the government executive, but also affects NEC members who work in other sectors.
- As a consequence of these factors, the impact of the members of the NEC in the branches is minimal. Their contribution to recruitment and the development of organisational structures on the ground is, in many cases, zero.
- The ANC Youth League remains at the vanguard of the progressive youth movement in South Africa. The role of the ANCYL is to be militant and prepare young leadership cadres for the ANC. The 22nd National Conference of the ANCYL, held in Johannesburg in August 2004, saw more than 4,000 youth from throughout the country contribute directly to the strengthening of the league and building a cohesive and united leadership collective. The Youth League`s programmes and political work show a level of activism from which the mother body should and can learn a great deal.
- Amongst the most important campaigns spearheaded by the ANCYL has been the mobilisation of unemployed youth to address the related challenges of job creation and skills development. The League has also engaged actively in a range of other important issues, including the transformation of higher education and the transformation of sport. A continuing weakness, however, remains the lack of a strong progressive youth alliance, which is an essential element in our endeavours to provide leadership to society as a whole.
- The ANCYL continues to be seized with the need for an integrated youth development strategy, and is spearheading the call for the amalgamation of the Umsobomvu Youth Fund and the National Youth Commission into a Youth Development Agency that could spearhead such a strategy at all levels of government. As well as providing leadership to South African youth, the league remains a key player on the African continent and has a strong voice in the international progressive youth movement.
- Organisational weaknesses continue to be addressed, but relationships between Youth League structures and that of the mother body in certain provinces need further attention. In the breadth of its activity and its determination to engage a broad range of stakeholders around a set of focussed campaigns, our Youth League is indeed leading a new wave of youth activism.
- The ANC Women`s League continues to champion the hopes and aspirations of women for a society free of sexism. The League has championed a number of campaigns including the campaign to save the life of Amina Lawal, which united a broad range of forces behind an initiative of continental scope. The League has also given leadership to society on the issue of violence against women, with the campaign to find Constable Rasuge giving a face to the campaign of no violence against women.
- In concert with our Alliance partners, the league will be launching a national women`s movement to fight for the transformation of gender relations and the empowerment of women. This is a most important initiative and it is hoped that the launch will take place before the end of this year.
- As is the case with the ANCYL, our Women`s League continues to provide bold leadership on a continental and global scale. The League has a leading role in the Pan-African Women`s Organisation and the International Women`s Democratic Federation as well as the Socialist International of Women.
- Two key issues confront the Women`s League at present. The first is the challenge of drawing a greater number of young women into the ranks and political activities of the League. To this end a Young Women`s desk has been established. The second challenge is to address the state of the organisation at all levels. Many provincial leadership collectives of the league are not functioning well, and this applies too to the regional structures. Despite organisational problems however, the organised women in the ANC remain at the core of our membership and active support base as ANC members.
- Our Alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO), remains a key instrument for the liberation of our country from all forms of political and economic bondage. Since the 51st National Conference of the ANC, the Alliance has continued to function effectively.
- During the election campaign of 2004, cadres of the Alliance were at the vanguard of popular mobilisation in every province, in every community. The extent of this mobilisation was premised on a renewed sense of unity of purpose within the Alliance that emerged out of a series of engagements over the last few years. Amongst the most important milestones were:
- The Ekurhuleni Summit of the Alliance in April 2002
- The 51st Conference of the African National Congress in December 2002
- The Growth and Development Summit (GDS) in June 2003
- The 8th Congress of COSATU in September 2003
- The SACP Special Congress in April 2005
- The Ekhuruleni 2 Summit of April 2005
- At the Alliance Summit held in Ekurhuleni in April 2005, our unity of purpose was further consolidated. At that summit we reviewed the work of the Alliance since our 2002 Summit. We have functioned effectively in the midst of electoral campaigns, our local level structures unite dynamically and there is a general unifying sense of purpose. Outside of election periods, and despite a great deal of ongoing Alliance interaction, we have not always been able to consistently carry through our unity and our popular mobilisation.
- The Summit also set in motion a process to address the problems of job losses, particularly in the gold mining and clothing and textile sector. Task teams have been established and are in the processes of developing detailed action plans to respond to this serious situation.
- There are several problems and challenges that must be acknowledged. Unconstructive public attacks on each other have not helped and the Summit agreed to conduct our debates and air real differences, where they may occur, in ways that build unity, and enable the Alliance to provide leadership to our society in general. We have also agreed that each of us need to strengthen our organisations, especially at the community and shop-floor level so that we are able to strengthen each others` campaigns.
- The Ekurhuleni 2 Summit adopted an Alliance programme of action, which forms the basis for our unity in 2005. The programme of action is based on five pillars:
- Coordination and Leadership to Society
- The Year of the Freedom Charter
- Advancing the GDS agreements
- People`s Power for Local Development
- Solidarity in Africa and the World.
- The Alliance is 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.
THE PROGRAMME OF THE ANC
- The ultimate indicator of the state of organisation is the extent to which the movement is effectively implementing a programme of action which engages all structures and members, involves and mobilises broader society, and advances the strategic objectives of the movement. The ANC national programme of action is based on the ANC Strategy and Tactics, the resolutions of national conference, and the annual programme developed by the NEC and outlined in the January 8th statement.
- The programme covers the work of ANC branches and other structures, as well as the work of ANC public representatives in all spheres, in the legislative and the executive branches of government. The programme should also guide the work of cadres deployed in other sectors.
- The challenge which the organisation has faced in this period – and indeed since 1994 – is the effective coordination of the various sites in which the programme needs to be implemented, and the provision of leadership and direction to all the cadres of the movement on their tasks and responsibilities.
- This has required, among other things, an understanding of the relationship in practice between constitutional structures of the ANC and the corresponding ANC caucus structures. It has also meant the management of the relationship between ANC structures and cadres deployed in the executive, whether at local, provincial or national level. It poses a challenge to all ANC structures to develop practical mechanisms to share information, monitor performance, and exercise accountability. This needs to be achieved in the context of the constitutional and legal mandate within which government officials are required to operate.
- Through improved coordination within and among all spheres of government, the ANC has been able to build on its achievements in pushing back the frontiers of poverty.
- Within all sectors of the social transformation cluster of government -social development, health, education, housing, water, land, energy, telecommunications, sport and culture – progress has been made in implementing the Stellenbosch resolutions and making a positive contribution to improving the lives of the country`s poor and vulnerable.
- The ten year review process which preceded the celebration of the First Decade of Freedom assisted in quantifying the progress made in all these areas, and identifying challenges and obstacles. As a consequence, the period since the 2004 elections has seen increased attention on improving delivery capacity.
- While some of this work has involved the rationalisation of resources and simplification of processes, as evident in the establishment of a national agency to administer social grants, most of the focus has been on improving capacity at local government level through initiatives like Project Consolidate.
- This focus on capacity has been accompanied by a greater commitment of resources by national government for social services. This has been made possible by prudent management of public finances and improved levels of economic growth.
- In line with the Stellenbosch conference resolutions, the economic transformation cluster has been engaged in a process of microeconomic reform while maintaining stability at a macroeconomic level, and pursuing an economic environment conducive to improved growth and development.
- The achievements of the first decade of democracy laid the foundation for government to pursue a range of interventions to further improve conditions for increased economic activity and investment, and to stimulate economic growth through substantial state-led investment in economic infrastructure and capacity. This is taking place alongside focused work by government to support and encourage the growth of the small and medium business sector, including cooperatives; the development of skills and expertise appropriate to the needs of a growing economy; and support to the process of broad-based black economic empowerment.
- Important as these advances are, a question that needs to be addressed is how to ensure that ANC branches are playing a meaningful role in the programme to push back the frontiers of poverty. How is the ANC, through its organisational programme, contributing to the process of social and economic transformation?
- The ANC is not merely a policy think tank – devising policy at its national conference and then relying on public representatives to oversee its implementation by government (important as this element of its work is). The ANC is a mass-based movement, responsible for mobilising all sectors of society and members of all communities to participate in a process of fundamental social change through self-emancipation. How does the ANC forge that link, between what it does in government and what its branches and members do in their communities?
- This question has been answered to some extent by campaigns taken up by ANC branches – like Letsema and `Know your neighbourhood` – which have sought to mobilise and engage communities in the process of local development.
- The Letsema campaign was initiated in January 2002, and drew on the spirit and practice of volunteerism that had long been a characteristic of the South African liberation struggle. During the course of 2002, the Letsema campaign mobilised thousands of volunteers into a range of largely ad hoc community improvement activities. These were organised into a series of monthly themes, covering areas like education, health care, community safety, human rights, women`s emancipation, etc.
- While largely successful in demonstrating the willingness and capacity of the masses to act as the agents of their own community development, the campaign was implemented only sporadically after 2002. This could be attributed to a lack of national coherence and coordination, volunteer `fatigue`, and the shift of focus among ANC structures to preparations for the 2004 elections.
- Nevertheless, one of the important achievements of the Letsema campaign was its capacity to draw together the voluntary efforts of community members and the resources and capacity of government in pursuit of a common development programme.
- More recently, the ANC has – together with its Alliance partners -taken up the `Know Your Neighbourhood` campaign. Among the objectives of this campaign is the involvement of communities in identifying and addressing their developmental needs, and thereby contributing to the building of a people`s contract to fight poverty.
- Though it has so far only been taken up in a few areas, the campaign offers the potential for much improved participation of community members in setting the priorities for service delivery and resource allocation. If effectively taken up by local Alliance structures, the `Know Your Neighbourhood` campaign could provide a critically important link between the social development work of government and the needs, priorities and interests of the people this work is supposed to benefit.
- The most significant organisational campaign during this period was the 2004 national and provincial election campaign. In addition, the ANC contested by-elections for vacancies at local government level and started preparations for local government elections in 2005/6.
- It is in the course of contesting elections that the ANC`s organisational capacity at a branch level is most effectively demonstrated. By contrast, the organisation struggles to achieve the same levels of branch activity, national cohesion and coordination, and broader social impact outside of an election period.
- The movement has built up considerable experience in election campaigning since the first elections in 1994. It has developed an approach to campaigning which reflects its character as a mass movement. Thus, the main campaign tactics are informed by the imperative of direct contact with the electorate.
- The 2004 election campaign saw the deepening of this approach, with the emphasis very early in the campaign on door-to-door work and towards the peak of the campaign, involving the President and other officials in door-to-door and house visits. The involvement of the Alliance at the centre of the campaign and sectoral outreach programmes further consolidated this approach. The above ground battle approach was complemented by an intensive communications campaign, which included mass media and advertising, and strategic national mass events – such as the Manifesto launch and the Siyanqoba rallies.
- Research, as usual, played an important part in the campaign, both in developing our messages and manifesto, but also informing our ground and aerial approaches during the course of the campaign.
- Our campaign machinery, moulded through the strategy development process, through training and through action enabled us to run a coherent national campaign, with capabilities to adapt to local and provincial conditions.
- The 70% victory, in the contest of a high turnout, bore testimony to the continued confidence of the masses in our movement and in the capacity of the movement to run effective campaigns.
- Soon after the 2000 local government elections, an approach towards by-elections was developed to ensure that we were able to respond to this challenge. The ANC has contested several by-elections since then, with varying degrees of success. The major challenge in by-elections is to ensure high levels of voter turnout and mobilise ANC campaign workers to use by-elections to consolidate and advance the position of the ANC at local level.
- Preparations for the 2005/2006 local government elections campaign have started, with the usual challenge given that local elections tend to be less profiled than national and provincial elections. The campaign will be a continuation of the core messages of our 2004 campaign, reaching voters directly, ensuring a message of hope and speeding up the delivery of services to the people.
- As we assess the effectiveness of our programme of action -particularly with respect to branch involvement and activity – it would be necessary to consider how election campaign work differs from other campaigns undertaken by the organisation, and to consider how the lessons of a successful election campaign can be drawn on to improve the quality and impact of campaigns conducted outside of an election period.
- The ANC also continues to play an important role in international developments. More and more, the progressive parties and movements on the African continent call on the movement to provide assistance, training and advice. This has strengthened the efforts of our government to address various problems of conflict and underdevelopment on the continent.
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION: THE CHALLENGE OF RENEWING OUR REVOLUTIONARY ETHICS
- Our review of the functioning of branch, provincial and national structures of the ANC has identified a number of problems that need to be addressed. These problems point to an erosion of the revolutionary morality that has characterised our movement for decades, and which infused the volunteers of the Congress of the People campaign with a burning need to serve the people. The reasons for such an erosion are not hard to fathom.
- The central challenge facing the ANC is to address the problems that arise from our cadres susceptibility to moral decay occasioned by the struggle for the control of and access to resources. All the paralysis in our programmes, all the divisions in our structures, are in one way or another, a consequence of this cancer in our midst.
- The constitution of the country allows for all citizens to engage in legitimate business activity. Indeed, the Freedom Charter itself demanded that “All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions”. It did so because apartheid and colonialism had systematically suppressed the entrepreneurial talent of our people. Any path to the accumulation of assets amongst black people in general was ruthlessly crushed. Therefore, in abstract, the accumulation of wealth by our people should not run counter to the progress of the revolution.
- The problem lies in the fact that, in our efforts to make up for the debilitating weight of apartheid, many of us appear only too quick to sacrifice the moral and ethical standards that have characterised our movement. Moral degeneration, linked to the accumulation and control over resources, is not a consequence we can accept, since it threatens to extinguish the torch of freedom that our people have carried for so long. Because of their hopes and aspirations we are duty bound to act, as the ANC, in the vanguard of the struggle against moral decay and corruption.
- These problems are not confined to a particular sphere of government or geographic area. Their pernicious influence and unacceptable consequences are apparent at local, provincial and national level. Whether it be councillors, mayors, municipal managers, MECs or ministers, Directors General or Cabinet Ministers: none of us can avoid the severe challenge posed to the movement. Both new and seasoned member are equally prone and vulnerable to these tempting prospects that come with public office.
- In many of our communities opportunities for employment are very limited, and especially in poorer provinces, government is the only employer of note. In this context the single-minded pursuit of control over public resources and ascendancy to authority to make appointments can lead to particularly acute consequences.
- Our position as a ruling party makes us particularly susceptible to such influences. Professionals within the public service are chosen because of their particular skills and talents. When their time in public service has come to an end it is only natural that they seek to continue to work in the spheres of society with which they are most familiar and best equipped to contribute. But these are the circumstances that create fertile ground for corruption and graft. How can we act to ensure that those exiting from public service, either as professionals or public representatives, are prevented from using government resources to invest in their personal fortunes in later life?
- Those who engage in business within our ranks should do so openly and in a transparent manner. Insidious practices such as sleeping partners should be avoided. Leaving public service to conduct private business after having placed reliable partners in leadership positions still in the public service is a malpractice which is hard to prove but clearly prevalent. We should ask, whenever a public servant or representative leaves office and opens a business in the same line of work, shouldn`t there be an automatic review by a dedicated government agency in order to eliminate the basis of suspicion and insinuations?
CONCLUSION: TOWARDS THE CENTENARY OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
- When we marked the 90th Anniversary of our movement in 2002, we looked forward to the tasks we must accomplish during the critical decade that will take us to the Centenary of the ANC. The January 8th Statement of 2002 gave us a road map as we advance to the Year 2012.
- The guiding principle of this road map is the objective to move forward decisively to eradicate the legacy of racism, sexism, colonialism and apartheid. This is the central aim that must inform the detailed work done daily by the vanguard movement for the social transformation of our country and Continent as well as our democratic state.
- To discharge all these responsibilities, we must base our vision, programmes and actions on that historic manifesto of the people of South Africa, the Freedom Charter. This demands especially of our vanguard movement that we ensure that the Freedom Charter plays its role in the formation of the new South Africa as a living document.
- This National General Council is charged with an important responsibility to contribute to the development of our policies, strategies and tactics and organisational development as we approach the next National Conference of the ANC. It must, therefore, refine the road map towards the centenary of our movement.
- Our capacity to organise and mobilise our people, through the creation of strong ANC branches, rooted in all our communities, will ultimately determine whether we succeed in these objectives.
LET US UNITE IN ACTION AND ACT IN UNITY!
ANC LIVES! ANC LEADS!