Hlomelang: Official Online Publication of the ANCYL
ANCYL Constitution: as amended and adopted by the 25th National Congress September 2015
Hlomelang: Vol. 13 No. 1: 25 July – 07 August 2016
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Organisational and Leadership issues in the ANC

(As adopted and amended at the ANCYL NEC on 13-14 January 1997)


1.1 The organisational unity, capacity and political cohesiveness of the ANC is crucial to the process of transformation in our country: "in its widest possible sense, as the leader of the Tripartite Alliance and mass democratic movement, the leading political party in the GNU and as the main driving force of the reconstruction and development programme of the government; ... the ANC should pursue its strategic political objective by exercising effective political and organisational leadership at all these levels" (Strategy and Tactics :1994).

1.2 The past few months have seen a number of organisational problems emanating from individual members and leaders of the ANC, affecting our public intake and raising questions about our cohesiveness. public confidence in our ability to govern our integrity as a movement and our ability to effectively lead the broad democratic forces for transformation.

1.3 We believe that the above state of affairs is firstly because of the objective conditions we are facing as a movement in new conditions, and secondly because of a number of subjective weaknesses. The purpose of this paper is therefore to examine the reasons for this state of affairs and to raise recommendations and discussions on a course of action.

Subjective and Objective weaknesses

1.4 The process of re-establishing the ANC as a legal movement following its unbanning in I 990, and transformingÂŁ from a national liberation ~movement to a majority party in a Government of National Unitise has not been without its difficulties. These difficulties include:

  • Merging different traditions of struggle (exile, mass democratic movement, the Islanders, etc.) into one coherent movement;
  • The need to deploy large numbers of our most experienced cadres into parliament` legislatures, the executive, local government and the civil service:
  • Welcoming into our ranks large numbers of new cadres (PF post-90 members);
  • Following our resounding victory in the elections, it was inevitable that the organisation and various cadres became much more open to undue influence given our position as a majority party in power;
  • The material benefits which derived for individuals from our position as a majority party, mean: a rise in political careerism which we have not experienced at any other point in our struggle;

1.5 Our organisational weaknesses include the following:

  • A weak deployment strategy, resulting in an overemphasis on governance with few of our experienced cadres concentrating on organisational tasks outside of government;
  • The lack of a cadre policy aimed at new members as well as building political cohesiveness amongst cadres deployed at different levels, giving rise to an increasing populism in our structures, lack of understanding of the policies and organisational culture of the involvement;
  • A weak political centre, leading to a failure to integrate the two main strategic tasks (governance and mobilizing our people) and give decisive political leadership, build the cohesiveness and unity of the movement, providing leadership to the Alliance and MDM;
  • Failure to adopt organisational structures and strategies suitable to the demands of the new conditions, including effective internal and public communication strategies;
  • An overall inability to effectively combine the tasks of governance and continued mobilization of the people. resulting in dysfunctional branches and lack of direction from our activists and organizers;
  • Power struggles and a tendency by some leaders and members to see themselves as above the organisation, resulting in acts of ill-discipline.

1.6 None of the afore-mentioned issues are new, and have been raised continuously over the past few years. Our hesitation to act resolutely on them will result in a continuation and escalation of the problems we face and continue to affect our ability as a movement to carry out our historical mission of leading our people and the democratic forces in the transformation of our country.

1.7 Having crossed the halfway` mark as the majority party in the Government of National Unity and as we start the process of preparations for National Conference in December 1997, there is an urgent need for a change of gear.


2.1 Centra! to addressing the problems we have raised will be the need for the movement to clarify the key strategic and tactical challenges facing the national democratic forces. This should enable us to determine what are the tasks facing all of us, as cadres of the movement, in different spheres -in the executive, parliament, legislatures and local government, in our constitutional structures at all levels, in the Alliance and the broader democratic forces.

2.2 The Strategy and Tactics Document (1994) states our "strategic objective as the transformation of our country into a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. Each of these principles are interlinked arm are all part of a thorough-going democratisation of our country." However, we have been unable to then based on the above strategic objective, identify what constitute the key pillars of strategy, in the same clear way as we identified the four pillars (armed struggle, international isolation of the regime, the underground and mass mobilization) in our struggle against apartheid.

2.3 The document presented to the ANC Winter School and the subsequent, ANCYL Spring School "Is the NDR still on Track?" suggests a consideration of the following `pillars` of our stated strategic objective:

  1. Socio economic transformation (with emphasis on affordable services in the areas of health and welfare, housing and education)
  2. Economic growth and development that benefits the country as a whole. and seek to uplift the general standards of living of flee poorest sections of our society;
  3. Transforming the institutions of government and the state:
  4. Building a strong and vibrant civil society with the structures of the ANC and the Alliance leading progressive forces and ensure the continued mobilisation of our people for transformation and reconstruction;
  5. Mobilizing international support for our national goals as a country (both political and economic).

The document on `The State and Social Transformation defines the role of the democratic state as:

On the one hand (a)responsible to champion the course of the disadvantaged, the black majority, the working people, the urban and rural poor, the women, youth and disabled; whilst (b) at the same time attending to the concerns of the rest of the population which are not necessarily part of the majority defined above; © the just and correct resolution of the national question and (d) to forge democratic and equitable partnerships as well as a working relationship between labour and capital in the interest of social stability, economic progress and reconstruction and development.

2.5 Agreement on what exactly constitute the `pillars` of our strategic objective in this era the overall programme that all of us, deployed in different sectors should implement, is an issue which we must urgently address and we thus welcome the decision of the latest NEC to convene a Lekgotla to address this question, amongst other issues.

What follows are therefore some of the issues and recommendations to ensure a change of gear in the movement:


3.1 The Constitution lists the most serious violations of as:

  • violation of the basic principles and norms of the Movement;
  • abuse of office, corruption, misappropriation of funds;
  • sexual harassment;
  • bringing the organisation into disrepute; and
  • flagrant violation of the moral integrity expected of members.

The Constitution cautions against using disciplinary proceedings as a means of stifling debate or denying members their basic democratic rights. This caution recognizes that discipline is foremost a political issue, and must therefore be seen in the context of our cadre development programme and a strong organisation.


1. A clear and unequivocal statement against corruption, at whatever level it occurs. Charges should be speedily investigated and if guilty, should be acted upon and members disciplined, whether they are in the ANC or hold public office as our members. The ability to act when this occur and to be seen to be maintaining discipline of our members will discourage violations and restore confidence in our integrity.

2. In order to act on violations of discipline as set out in the Constitution and Code of Conduct, we must ensure the following:

  • Open and clear disciplinary procedures and structures which all members have access to at all levels of the organisation, the NEC should provide a framework.
  • The capacity to speedily investigate disciplinary charges and fair hearings within clear time frames.

3. The NEC in its meeting in July agreed to expand the Disciplinary Committee to allow for more efficient processing of disciplinary proceedings. We would recommend that in terms of further people to be added to the DC. that we should consider the ,following:

  • adding more members of the `older` ANC generation who are not as involved in the current leadership issues in the ANC, to provide a more distanced perspective and not only to be a DC of peers: and
  • the inclusion of some young people on the DC, eaten if it is simpler for the purpose of gaining experience, but also because we believe that we haste a contribution to make.

4. A review of the Discipline and Code of conduct in the process leading up to Conference to ensure that it reflects the political character of the ANC. However, we should accept else fact that the country`s Constitution as the Supreme Law of the land, is above that of the ANC.

5. Consideration of the ANCYL Code of Conduct, we think would also be a useful process.


4.1 The Constitution of the ANC states that `A member of the ANC shall have the right to take full and active part in the discussions, formulation and implementation of policy of the ANC, receive and impart information on all aspects of ANC policies and activities, offer constructive criticism of any member, official policy, programme or activity of the ANC within its structures" (our emphasis)

4.2 The ANC - and the entire liberation forces - have a rich history of democratic debate within its ranks. This, over the years has taken the forms of debates in discussions cells, workshops, sectoral meetings and in various constitutional meetings of the movement. What guided these debates were our common commitment to the best strategies to defeat the apartheid regime.

4.3 However, we should not fall in the trap of romanticising this democratic tradition, because it is something that had to be fought for at various points in the history of our movement. What makes the liberation movement exceptional is its commitment to democratic debate in its ranks and the ability of the movement to self-correct emanating from internal processes. Often these took place under the very` difficult circumstances when the movement was banned and underground.

4.4 For example. measures taken after the incidents at Quatro in the l 980`s when the organisation appointed the Stewart Commission to invest) ate the root causes of the problems in the Angola camps. Amongst the recommendations made by the Commission were the immediate preparations for National Conference which took place at Kabwe and where the organisation as a whole, nor only debated the direction of the struggle and in particular issues raised with regards the armed struggle` but also a Code of Conduct "to ensure that the policies of the movement found clearer expressions in actual practice." [ANC: Statement to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, August 1994].

4 5 Even within the internal mass movement. the issue of democratic debate had to be continually assessed. We in the youth movement certainly remembered the efforts of SAYCO to fight against `cabalism` which we identified not necessarily as a group of individuals or even a faction, but as a mode of operation which is undemocratic and an ideological tendency within the mass democratic movement. This process also took place in the midst of fierce repression. where it could have been argued that centralisation of information was necessary to protect the mass movement against the onslaught of the regime.

4.6 "When the ANC suspended armed action in 1990, it took perhaps one of the most emotional decisions in its recent historic, especially, for theyouth, whose friends and accomplices had died in actions. Many of us had reservations about the manner in which the decision was taken, some were opposed to the tactical wisdom of the decision itself. It was a life and death decision. The Youth League were among the first to question this decision. Opposed as we were, we voiced our discontent within the recognised structures of our movement. Once, eve had a heated exchange with the President himself, who was Deputy President at the time about this issue". [From: Discipline and Dissent, a paper presented to the ANCYL Cadreship Spring School . September 1996]

4.7 However, what we must examine today, is whether during the past few years since the general elections in 1994, we have been true to the above rich democratic tradition. We need to do this not only because of the accusations labelled against us in the media, particularly around the Holomisa issue; that we have become a movement who suppresses dissent from within its ranks; but in order lo honestly take introspection about the state of affairs with regards such an important element of what made us what we are today.

4.8 It is therefore our contention. that if there is a threat to democratic debate in the ANC, it is because the structures of the movement which should give form and content to such debate, are weak, leaving scope for the undermining of the essential character of the movement. We thus become disgruntled and cynical activists who either criticises from the sidelines whilst watching, or become part of the same practices of jockeying for power and in the process stifling discussions about the real issues Acing the movement.

4.9 The League believes that now is the time for us to re-affirm our culture of open debate and flow of information, of raising problems within the proper forums and structures boldly and to ensure proper functioning structures to do so. This should also include open debate between, within and about the Tripartite Alliance and a recognition of the mutual influence and different roles of each of the partners.


6.1 The January) 8 statement calls for 1997 as the Year of Re-affirming the ANC Cadre. This is an important call, because it does help us to go back to basics: that we are cadres of a movement for liberation and social change. Amongst the attributes of cadres of this movement we should therefore include:

  • a consciousness of the conditions of the world we live and the need to change it;
  • the search for knowledge on an ongoing basis, the need to broaden and deepen our understanding of the world and the conditions of our people;
  • discipline, humility and modesty;
  • constructive criticism and self-criticism;
  • accessible to the people;
  • initiative, a leader and example in her/his society/sector/community;
  • commitment to improve the lives of people, to service, selflessness;
  • commitment to the collective and organisational processes.

6.2 Whilst we expect the above attributes of our cadres and more so from our leaders, the movement also has a responsibility towards its cadreship; amongst others:

  • to create a meaningful roll for cadres in structures to participate in the shaping of policies and strategy and be given responsibilities;
  • a meaningful deployment strategy which incorporates individual attributes and the need of the organisation, and providing ongoing forums direction and support in the deployed areas.

6.3 The movement must ensure that we continually re-affirm our existing cadres, whilst putting in place mechanisms for the continual rejuvenation of our activist core through measures such as:

  • -the implementation of our decision on the Political School -induction courses aimed at all new members, and more
  • experience cadres taking responsibility for new ones;
  • periodical and compulsory courses aimed at all leadership levels and our public representatives;
  • attention to the ANCYL as a preparatory school for new cadres, this is where our new generations of leadership and membership are trained and we must ensure a good foundation;
  • political discussions in all constitutional structures

By making political education an integral part of all aspects of our organization, encourage vibrant debate and discussions will be able to ensure a disciplined and cohesive cadreship and movement, ready for the challenges we are facing.


7.1 The ANC as a broad national democratic movement, include a number of broad ideological trends. namely` a nationalist/bourgeoisie democratic trend` a socialist trend and the mainstream national democratic trend which tend to incorporate elements of both first two trends. These different trends have offer the decades of the existence of the movement, co-existed, influencing each other and the mainstream ideological position of the ANC. These trends are not factions or even platforms as is the case in other parties in the world.

7.2 In addition, our Strategy and Tactics identifies the main motive forces as represented by the African workers and rural poor, black workers in general and the black middle strata. At the same time, "we must recognise the fact that there is social differentiation amongst these masses,. which at tines will lead the various strata and classes to express different aspirations and pursue separate objectives."

7.3 The broad character of the movement does therefore mean that preserving our unity is important both as a strategy, and as a mode of operation. Hence the emphasis in our Constitution in the section on our Character on:

  • the ANC as a democratic organisation whose policies are determine by the membership;
  • whose leadership are accountable in terms of procedures laid down in the Constitution;
  • our strive for maximum unity of purpose and functioning;
  • principles of freedom of speech and free circulation of ideas and information; and
  • the non-racial, anti-racist and anti-sexist composition and functioning of the movement.

7.4 The above also means that we encourage a particular leadership style in the movement, with emphasis on collective leadership, consultation and accountability and ensuring that we take our organisational structures with us when we need to make major policy and strategic decisions.


8.1 The Officials of the movement and the National Working Committee and NEC and the PEC`s and Pus at provincial levels are the main political structures which should guide the involvement.

8.2 In the period post 1990 a decision was taken to abolish the Political Committee which used to operate in the President`s office, on the understanding Officials Committee and NWC would be the main political centres where on an ongoing basis, strategies are discussed and processed and flowing from this, direction given to the entire movement and its cadreship.

8.3 The officials and NWC to a large extend played this role during the negotiations period preceding the 1994 elections. However, since then it has been increasingly difficult for these structures to fulfill the above function - in the main because it is slatted by cadres who are deployed in government in positions with high levels of responsibilities and demands on their time. The Officials Committee for the same reasons seldom meet to process political discussions and NWC meetings thus tend to discuss political issues when responding to crisis or are pressed with a deadline like the adoption of the Constitution.

8.4 The NWC also spends too much time on discussing administrative issues, whilst the necessary structures have beer set up to deal with these issues. and should be utilized. The situation in provinces is not much different With most members of our PEC`s either MPL`s or MEC`s having little time for the organisation.

The SGO at all levels of the organisation is entwine which must manage and coordinate:

  • effective operations of our structures
  • have and implement a deployment strategy
  • functional disciplinary structures
  • internal communication within the movement
  • coordination of the tripartite alliance
  • implementation of a public relations strategy
  • coordination with the MDM, etc.

We have consistently put forward the view that this of necessity, means that the Secretary General`s and Provincial Secretaries should be full-time in the organisation. In addition, we should move towards a situation where this is re-enforced by having more members of our NEC and PWC full-time or not deployed in government.


1. Revive the Political Commission in the Presidency office which should act as a strategic think tank on an ongoing basis, identifying in advance the political, and organisational interventions necessary and process these through the various Constitutional structures and the POLED. This Commission should also play a role in ensuring political discussions leading up to Conference.

2. An examination of the role played by the Presidency and the Office of the National Chairperson in the organisational and political development of the movement.

3. A much more strategic and political agenda for the NWC and NEC/PWC and PEC`s informed by the above.

4. Processing of administrative issues through. structures such as the Secretariat, the Secretaries Forum, etc. within broad policy parameters.

5.Beef up the SGO with more political staff and ensuring that the new Secretary General is full-time in the organisation.

6.A review of our full time personnel structure at all levels including the nature of personnel, relationship with constitutional structures, cost effectiveness, coordination between offices and the relationship between regional and constituency offices.


9.1 The movement is in the process of renewing and re-affirming mandates of its leadership structures at different levels: a process started with the Provincial Conferences and which will be completed with National Conference at the end of this year. Throughout this document, we have raised our concerns with some of the current leadership issues in the movement.

9.2 As the League participated in the Provincial Conferences of the ANC last year and refill do so in the coming year towards National Conference, we are guided by the following approach in terms of leadership in the movement in the current phase:

  • The need for rejuvenation of the NEC and PEC`s. and a moire away from the populism which characterised the election of the last NEC, with greater emphasis on the attributes of leaders and cadres we need for different leadership positions; redress faith regards the over representation on the NEC and PEC s of people in government. and discourage the perception that election to leadership positions on these structures is a stepping stone towards government
  • The rejuvenation should come about in part through greater representivity of the NEC, in particular with regards:
    • The inclusion of a spread of emerging leadership from provinces. At the last Conference, provinces put forward a number of comrades from this category, but very few made it. Without reverting to the Indian model, we must ensure that there is a better spread to assist the process of bringing new blood into the NEC and having comrades who are active and based in provinces on the NEC bringing in a dimension which is insufficiently catered for through ex-officio provincial representatives.
    • Trade unionist and worker leaders. The general point should be made that we must once again encourage the participation of workers in the ANC at all levels.
    • The new generations of leadership from the youth sector, and for the purpose of the coming conference in particular, from the 1976 generation of exiled and MK cadres for the NEC and the 80`s generation with regards PEC`s.
    • A substantive and qualitative increase in the number of women; and
    • Consideration of the national question.
  • A cohesive and strong Officials Committee and NWC which are able to take forward areas where we have been lacking, particularly with regards the organisational challenges we face;
  • Cohesive Provincial Executive Committes, and boldly addressing the problems in various provinces of the movement for a variety of reasons;


This issue in the main relates to areas of appointments and dismissals, policies of the ANC and that of government and the general running of the affairs of government.

10.1 On appointments and dismissals: All leadership in the movement are guided by our commitment to collective leadership and the supremacy of our constitutional structures. The Constitution gives the President and Premiers the prerogative to appoint (and dismiss) their Executives. This takes place within a broad mandate from our constitutional structures. Politically, it is the task of the President and Premiers to take account of popular sentiment in the movement balanced with the needs of government on the one hand, and of our constitutional structures to ensure that it support and re-enforce the leaders our movement in government at different levels.

Our ability to do this effectively, is greatly dependent on our general cohesiveness as a movement. If there is mistrust between constitutional structures and our leader in government and if constitutional structures atall levels do not consistently asses our performance in government, this will obviously lead to disharmony.

There is a body of opinion in the ANCYL. which is arguing that for the same reasons we have the President/leader of the ANC is also the leader of the movement in government, we should move to a situation where this is duplicated at provincial levels. Having a situation where you have two different persons as Premier and chairperson of the ANC, is setting up to centres of power, and a recipe for conflict. This matter needs further debate. especially in the context of a broader discussion about the relationship between the movement/party) and the state.

10.2 Policies of the ANC: Our members took public office within the Proportional Representative system through electoral support given to the ANC and its policies. The ANC has clear policy positions on some issues and on others they are less clear. In the latter circumstance we do however haste mechanisms and structures to ensure that there are policies of the party (eg. the BUN conference on the Constitution-making process to inform our representatives at the CA or NEC subcommittees such as the Economic Transformation Committee).

What we have to balance though, is our statements of intent and policies as a movement and the `kind of constraints imposed within the confines of government and in implementation of our policies.

This does raise the importance of dynamic structures where forums are providedfor exchange of ideas amongst our cadreship on these policy and implementation issues, in particular at the following levels:

  • Ensuring that our Constitutional structures hold political discussions on the challenges of Transformation and Delivery;
  • Ongoing discussions on the above issues within the Tripartite alliance;
  • Our senior leadership to give priority to forums where we interact with the Mass Democratic Movement, on a sectoral basis (eg MDM Education forum), but also within the RDP Councils.

10.3 General running of Government: In the light of the above mandate, our representatives should be allowed to carry out their mandate of running the affairs of government, within the context of collective leadership.


11.1 As a majority party, people will judge the ANC on what our public representatives do. This therefore calls on us to demand the maximum discipline from our public representatives.

11.2 A more difficult matter to deal with is the issue of incompetence. Our constitutional structures should on an ongoing basis assess our performance in government and the work of our cadres deployed in various areas, based on the policies of the organisation. This assessment should be coupled with providing forums to these comrades to discuss policy, support and direction; as well as clear forums for accountability. It is within the context of the above that if our members so deployed do not deliver, the organisation through its mandated representatives and structures should have the prerogative to recall then.


12.1 Our structures and cadres in the executive (the Caucus and study groups) have a responsibility lo ensure that ANC policies are implemented, as well as a r ole in developing detailed policy, coordinating with organisational structures like NEC and PEC subcommittees.

12.2 An additional role (which is more contentious) is that of monitoring our performance in the executive. This is different from the opposition role of the NP and others, who do so on the basis of different policies and oppositional opportunism to undermine the ruling party.

12.3 The ANC Caucus and structures should politically assist the movement with our continual evaluation on whether through governance we are on track with transformation and delivery and inform the discussions in our constitutional structures. ANC MP`s play an important, role in developing policy, in the study groups and portfolio committees, especially with regards the implementation and other details of our policies. This does call for more dynamic interactions between these structures and the NEC subcommittees which are suppose to ensure ongoing policy development. This does mean greater support for these structures, and some measures have been put in place to provide increased capacity.

More dynamic interactions between our party caucuses and constitutional structures should assist us in ensuring that we compliment our contributions in the two spheres of government.


Mass involvement and the role of branches

13.1 The ANC 1994 Conference re-affirmed our commitment to remain a mass liberation. Movement. This does mean that the structures which allow for participation of our members and supporters needed to be kept alive and vibrant. This has not happened for a variety of reasons, the most important being the lack of political clarity about the role of our branches in this new period, and what mobilisation of our people for transformation means.

13.2 In our views, mass involvement include having strong organized formations at local levels, with a conscious cadreship and activist core capable of implementing programs which involve people in communities around issues affecting them; whether it is in the Community Policing and other Development Forums or the mobilization of parents, teachers and students around the culture of learning. Such a program should aim to educate our people about their role in creating a better life in partnership with government, the ethos of a new society and their responsibilities and rights as citizens.

13.3 We must also look at the proposals from the SACP and COSATU around the building of a Popular Movement for Transformation. This will necessitate an analysis of civil society and what organised formations represent the motive forces of the NDR which should form part of such a movement. Central to building such a movement is the coherence of the alliance, which should form the nucleus of such a movement.

ANC Cadres and Activists.

13.4 Though our constitution says that every member should belong to a branch, and so we should, this is increasingly not the only nor the most important area where most of our cadres and activists make a contribution to the process of transformation and delivery. Though our branches remain the basic unit, shouldn`t they take consideration of this fact and become more diversified in their activities (whatever this will mean in practice?)

13.5 What provision do we make for new structures/positions created under new conditions in our branches and other constitutional structures - to mention but a few councilors and caucuses, MP`s, MPL`s and MEC`s? And where do we bring together people who are deployed in diverse areas such as broadcasting, defence, the private and parastatal sector, the legislatures, the League, the unions, etc. etc.? Is the route the revival of the MDM type structures?


The African National Congress remains the movement in South Africa with the most progressive policies, who has shown the greatest commitment towards the aspirations of the poor and to the process of thorough-going transformation and democratization of our country. History and our people demand of us that we continue to lead and do so effectively and with dignity.