STRATEGY AND TACTICS
OF THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
AS ADOPTED BY THE 54TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2017
Enhancing Organisational Integrity And Intensifying Action Towards A National Democratic Society
1 At the 53rd National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC) in 2012, a preface was appended to the Strategy and Tactics document adopted in 2007.
2 In the period since the last National Conference, there have been many global and domestic developments that bear relevance to the strategic and tactical approaches of the ANC. Combined with developments since 2007, the changed situation warrants a revision of the ANC’s Strategy and Tactics document. Where the movement’s approach has not changed, as with the characterisation of the National Democratic Society, this is largely retained from the 2007 document.
3 This strategy and tactics document outlines the organisation’s analysis of the global and domestic balance of forces, and how this facilitates or hinders the attainment of the ANC’s ultimate objectives. Arising from this are the medium- and long-term tasks facing the organisation and society at large.
4 The notion of ‘strategy’ is used to denote the long- term objectives that the ANC has set for itself. ‘Tactics’ refer to the immediate and medium-term tasks to attain those long-term objectives.
5 The cause of social transformation in South Africa is taking place in a global environment characterised by contradictory tendencies in terms of human development and the crisis of neo-liberal capitalism.
6 On the one hand, the rapid modernisation of technology and developmental convergence among some regions contain possibilities for improving the human condition. Attached to this are changing economic power balances in favour of developing countries and new trends in economic partnerships.
7 On the other hand, the global economic crisis which started with the financial meltdown in 2007 underlines the flaws of neo-liberal ideology and praxis. The world is experiencing a poly-crisis reflected in: the rapacious conduct of finance capital, signs of secular stagnation in production and trade; degradation of the environment; and further marginalisation of regions in the periphery of global capitalism.
8 Accompanying these multiple crises is the declining legitimacy of the political and business elites. This is a consequence of their inability to address the fundamental questions of social inequality, declining social ethics and mismanagement of such global challenges as migration and terrorism. Narrow nationalism and chauvinism are on the ascendancy. Selfish geo-political pursuits and the rise of the security-industrial complex threaten to worsen global tensions and plunge the world into a devastating inferno.
9 Across the world, progressive civil society and left political movements have sought to challenge this state of affairs. However, many parties that have historically pursued social progress have either been co-opted into the dominant school of thought or are unable to break through discourse that justifies social inequality and security-oriented solutions as the natural order of things.
10 At the core of global social discord is the fundamental question of political economy, the distribution of income and assets in society.
11 South Africa represents the most acute manifestation of most of the social fault-lines that define humanity’s current challenges: race, class, gender and geographic location. Income inequality and inequitable distribution of assets are at their most intense. Poverty and unparalleled opulence live cheek by jowl. Apartheid colonialism ensured that these disparities express themselves along racial lines, with gender and geographic location overlaying the canvass upon which these fault-lines play out.
12 In this regard, South Africa’s efforts at fundamental change represent a social experiment which resonates with humanity’s progressive endeavours. As in the past when it touched the conscience of humanity, South Africa is a giant social laboratory, the success or failure of whose undertakings has global implications. Inversely, having attained its political liberation only recently, our society enjoys the advantage of learning from experiences across the globe.
13 The ideals enshrined in the South African Constitution accord with the strategic objectives of the ANC. The pace towards realising these rights depends, in part, on legislation that gives effect to constitutional imperatives; the capacity to implement relevant programmes; and the acumen of societal leadership to mobilise the overwhelming majority of South Africans to pursue their genuine interests.
14 Progress in moving towards a National Democratic Society has been commendable, but inadequate. The inequitable social relations that defined Colonialism of a Special Type remain largely in place. The rise of a few Black people onto higher social rungs has not changed the essence of these social relations.
15 Disquiet within society grows by the day. Be it among the poor with little prospect of improving their lot, or women and young professionals butting their heads against glass ceilings, or ordinary workers living through socio-economic marginalisation, the restlessness has become palpable. While elements of these realities may derive from objective conditions, subjective factors pertaining to the quality of leadership have not been edifying either.
16 Addressing the root causes of these social challenges is in the national interest. It requires leadership in a broad front of all social sectors, to give hope through practical action, and to galvanise society into active citizenship. The twin impulses of legitimate societal leadership and an active citizenry will feed on each other to propel society to greater heights.
17 In recognition of the imperatives of the moment, most South Africans have embraced the vision outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP). Similarly, the ANC is calling for a second phase of transition towards a National Democratic Society.
18 The fundamental questions in this regard are: is this desire for faster social transformation informed by a clear understanding of the evolution of South African society; does it take into account the global and domestic balance of forces; is it based on clear strategic objectives; and does it take sufficient account of social agency and how to catalyse it!
19 At the core of the ANC’s tasks in the current period is the renewal of the organisation for it to exercise societal leadership in a changing environment, the consolidation of democracy and the speeding up of programmes of fundamental transformation to attain shared prosperity, social justice and human solidarity.
CAPTURING THE BEACH-HEAD: HISTORICAL OVERVIEW AND THE TRANSITION
20 The South African nation-state emerged over many centuries of European colonial incursion and resistance against it. Before 1652, this geographic area had been home to communities with varying and evolving levels of technological development and systems of governance. These ranged from hunter-gatherers to pastoral and mining settlements strewn across the landscape. These communities were characterised by production and trade, fusion and diffusion, peaceful co-existence and conflict.
21 By the turn of the 20th century, the African people including the Khoi and the San had been militarily subdued. Historians identify such factors as technological differences, inter-ethnic tensions and sporadic collaboration with the European settlers as being among the most important causes of defeat.
22 It is pointless to speculate about the trajectory indigenous communities may have followed in their social evolution. The reality is that a unique blend of diverse peoples – including slaves from various colonial territories, indentured labourers and migrants from the Indian subcontinent and European settlers – has come together to constitute a nation. This is South Africa’s strength. However, poorly managed, it can also become a debilitating weakness.
23 The agreement that saw to the birth of the South African nation-state in 1910 consolidated the common interests of European settlers, premised on the political and socio-economic exclusion and marginalisation of the Black majority. Over the years, this evolved into the attainment of sovereignty from the British empire, while retaining the subordinate nature of economic relations with the metropole and its peers.
24 Because of endowments such as land and minerals progressively appropriated over the centuries, South Africa’s geographic location, and pursuit of the social interests of the European settlers, South Africa developed an industrial base unique among most colonies.
25 These developments underpinned a unique feature of South African colonialism. On the one hand, the Black majority were subjugated in a manner similar to other colonised peoples. On the other, the white community had forged deep roots within the country and, largely, adopted it as its permanent home. This, the liberation movement characterised as Colonialism of a Special Type or internal colonialism.
26 Arising from this characterisation, the struggle for the liberation of South Africa identified as its main objective the attainment of political freedom and economic transformation within a society of which the white minority constituted an inextricable part. Consistent equality, without regard to race, gender, social status and geographic location formed the core of the liberation movement’s objectives.
27 Over time, the struggle against colonialism and its apartheid variant took the form of mass organisation and mobilisation, underground organisation, armed struggle and international mobilisation. By the 1980s, these struggles had congealed into a generalised uprising against the status quo and the global isolation of the white minority regime, whose policies were characterised as a crime against humanity. This compelled the regime to accept the pre-conditions for a negotiated settlement, including the unbanning of liberation organisations, the release of political prisoners and free political activity. The liberation movement, on the other hand, did not have the capacity forcefully to overthrow the regime.
28 Most anti-colonial struggles culminated in negotiated settlements. South Africa’s transition towards democracy reflected the self-interest of the contending forces to avoid a scorched earth.
The core character of the political settlement of the early 1990s was the acceptance of consistent democracy enshrined in an enabling constitutional framework.
29 The 1996 Constitution enjoys global pride of place with a few other such basic laws. This is because it embraces various generations of human rights: political, social, economic, environmental, gender and informational rights. Many of these rights are for immediate application, while others are meant to be realised progressively.
30 During the negotiations process, compromises were struck around modalities of the transition. The liberation movement agreed to ‘sunset clauses’ operational in the first few years of the democratic dispensation. This pertained to a government of national unity and the easing of apartheid apparatchiks out of the state system. There would be no arbitrary appropriation of the wealth illegitimately and illegally accumulated by the white community over the centuries. At the same time, the white community was expected to contribute to the reparations that the process of reconciliation demanded.
31 Two conceptual issues about the transition bear reflection.
32 Firstly, whilst containing transitional clauses, the 1996 Constitution was on the whole an expression of untrammelled majority rule with profound socio-economic provisions. In this sense, the ideals it propounds are not a compromise; but are consistent with the objective to create a society underpinned by a profound humanism.
33 Secondly, fundamental to the understanding of the South African transition should be the appreciation of the difference between the ideals provided for in the basic law of the land and the capacity and will to pursue them. The pace at which social transformation can be implemented, within the broad framework of the Constitution, depends on the array of social forces for and against fundamental change, within South Africa and abroad.
34 Further, the constitutional provisions for a law- governed process of social change and the dispersal of authority across the various arms of government was a matter of principled choice, inspired by the objective to prevent a recurrence of the abuse of power from whichever quarter.
VISION OF OUR COLLECTIVE EFFORT: CHARACTER OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION
35 If the progress we have made since 1994 constitutes only the beginning of a protracted process of change, what is it that we aim for! What kind of society do we seek to create? What is the character of the NDR?
36 Colonialism of a Special Type contained within itself contradictions that could not be resolved through reform. It had to be destroyed. As such, the system we seek to create will stand or fall on the basis of whether it is able to eliminate the main antagonisms of colonialism.
37 A national democratic society constitutes the ideal state we aspire to as the ANC and the broad democratic movement. It should thus not be confused with tactical positions that the liberation movement may adopt from time to time, taking into account the balance of forces. Circumstances in which we conduct social transformation will change all the time. And in the process of effecting such transformation, there will be successes and setbacks.
38 The liberation movement should avoid the temptation to crow over such successes in these early years as if we had already achieved our ultimate objective. Nor should we seek to justify mistakes and setbacks as unavoidable.
39 This is where the line should be drawn between strategy (the ultimate goal), and tactics (the methods and actions that respond to changing immediate circumstances). Clearly, at all times we should develop tactics that are suitable for the specific conditions under which we operate. Our tactics should be informed by our commitment to the strategic goal.
40 What does this mean in actual practice? Our definition of Colonialism of a Special Type identifies three interrelated antagonistic contradictions: class, race and patriarchal relations of power. These antagonisms found expression in national oppression based on race; class super-exploitation directed against Black workers on the basis of race; and triple oppression of the mass of women based on their race, their class and their gender.
41 The National Democratic Revolution is defined as such precisely because it seeks to abolish this combination of sources of social conflict. It has national and democratic tasks, and it should strive to realise shared prosperity, social justice and human solidarity, premised on:
- a united state based on the will of all the people, without regard to race, sex, belief, language, ethnicity or geographic location;
- a dignified and improving quality of life among all the people by providing equal rights and opportunities to all citizens; and
- the restoration of the birth-right of all South Africans regarding access to land and other resources.
42 The NDR seeks to build a society based on the best in human civilisation in terms of political and human freedoms, socio-economic rights, value systems and identity. Such human civilisation should be reflected, firstly, in the constant improvement of the means to take advantage of our natural environment, turn it to collective human advantage, and ensure its regeneration for future use. Secondly, it should find expression in the management of human relations based on political equality and social inclusivity. If there were to be any single measure of the civilising mission of the NDR, it would be how it treats the most vulnerable in society.
43 One of the most critical acts of the NDR is the creation of a legitimate state which derives its authority from the people, through regular elections and continuing popular participation in the processes of governance. Mobilised around a clear vision of the kind of society we wish to become, the nation should act in partnership – each sector contributing to the realisation of the common good. The means should be put in place for citizens to exercise their human rights, and for the checks and balances necessary in a law-governed society. The democratic state should also have the organisational and technical capacity to realise its objectives.
44 As with any nation, South Africans will continue to have multiple identities based on class, gender, age, language, geographic location, religion and so on. In a national democratic society, such diversity should feed into an overarching national identity. In its own unique way, South Africa should emerge as a united African nation, adding to the diversity and identity of the continent and humanity at large.
45 The main content of the NDR is the liberation of Africans in particular and Blacks in general from political and socio-economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female. At the same time, it has the effect of liberating the white community from the false ideology of racial superiority and the insecurity attached to oppressing others. The hierarchy of disadvantage suffered under apartheid will naturally inform the focus of programmes of change and the attention paid particularly to those who occupied the lowest rungs on the apartheid social ladder.
46 Precisely because patriarchal oppression was embedded in the economic, social, religious, cultural, family and other relations in all communities, its eradication cannot be an assumed consequence of democracy. All manifestations and consequences of patriarchy – from the feminisation of poverty, physical and psychological abuse, undermining of self-confidence, to open and hidden forms of exclusion from positions of authority and power
– need consciously to be eliminated. Critical in this regard is the creation of the material and cultural conditions that would allow the abilities of women to flourish and enrich the life of the nation.
47 A nation’s success depends also on its ability to encourage, harness and incorporate into its endeavours the creativity, daring and energy of youth. This relates to such issues as access to social and economic opportunities, engendering activism around issues of development and values of community solidarity and creating the space for youth creativity to flourish.
48 Among the most vulnerable in society are children and the elderly: and a national democratic society should ensure their protection and continuous advancement. This also applies to people with disability – not merely as a matter of social welfare; but based on the recognition of the right of each individual to dignity and development and of the contribution that each can make to the collective good.
49 Implementing these corrective measures requires more than just references to general political rights. A continuing element of democratic transformation should be a systematic programme to correct the historical injustice and affirm those deliberately excluded under apartheid – on the basis of race, class and gender. The need for such affirmative action will decline in the same measure as all centres of power and influence and other critical spheres of social endeavour become broadly representative of the country’s demographics. In the process, all inequalities that may persist or arise will need to be addressed.
50 Apartheid colonialism visited such devastating consequences on Black communities because it ordered the ownership and control of wealth in such a manner that these communities were deliberately excluded and neglected. Therefore, fundamental to the destruction of apartheid is the eradication of apartheid production relations. This is more than just an issue of social justice. It is also about the fact that these relations had become a brake on the advancement of technology and competitiveness of the economy.
51 A national democratic society should be founded on a thriving economy the structure of which should reflect the natural endowments of the country and the creativity that a skilled population can offer. It should be an economy in which cutting edge technology, labour-absorbing industrial development, a thriving small business and co- operative sector, utilisation of information and communication technologies and efficient forms of production and management all combine to ensure national prosperity. This is conditional on ensuring that the brain and brawn of all of society are brought to bear on all economic activity. It requires de-racialisation of ownership and control of wealth, management and the professions.
52 In this regard, such a society will place a high premium on redistribution of land in both urban and rural areas for the benefit of those who were denied access under colonialism. Such access must be provided for a variety of purposes including agriculture, housing, environmental preservation, mining and other economic activity, public utilities and spaces, entertainment and other uses. In order to ensure effective and sustainable land and agrarian reform, effective measures will be put in place to assist ‘emergent commercial’ and small- scale farmers and co-operatives.
53 A thriving economy in a national democratic society requires as efficient a market as possible, shorn of the racial and gender exclusions that characterised apartheid colonialism, and freed from the barriers to entry and competition that the economy endured under colonial capitalism. It will also require a state able to use its capacities to direct national development through fiscal redistribution, utilisation of State-owned Enterprises, effective regulation, procurement and other measures.
54 A national democratic society will have a mixed economy, with state, co-operative and other forms of social ownership, and private capital. The balance between social and private ownership of investment resources will be determined on the balance of evidence in relation to national development needs and the concrete tasks of the NDR at any point in time.
55 In this regard, the state will relate to private owners of investment resources in the context of the national objective to build a better life for all. Through its various capacities, the state will encourage socially- beneficial conduct on the part of private business. Similarly, through such capacities, it will ensure that these investors are able to make reasonable returns on their investments.
56 Social cohesion in a national democratic society will also depend on the extent to which the rights of those in the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder are protected. Such a society should proceed from the obvious premise that workers’ rights are human rights; and these rights should find expression in law-governed measures to ensure decent jobs, job security and a living wage. Through legislation and other means, the state should ensure fair and balanced relations between employers and employees.
57 Particular attention in such a society should be paid to conditions of the poor in rural areas. This also applies to the life circumstances of such groups as citizens in informal settlements as well as female- headed and single households.
58 A national democratic society should use the redistributive mechanism of the fiscus to provide a safety net for the poor. As such, built into its social policy should be a comprehensive social security system which includes various elements of the social wage such as social grants, free basic services, free education, free health care, subsidised public transport and basic accommodation.
59 A national democratic state should continually implement integrated anti-poverty programmes, ensuring that these programmes address not only social assistance, but also the sustainable integration of all communities into economic activity. This is critical in dealing with poverty in general, but also in addressing the condition of the majority of women.
60 All these measures are important for social cohesion. They should be supported by joint efforts among all sectors of society to strengthen community organisation and mobilisation around issues pertaining to sport, the arts, women’s rights, youth interests, the battle against crime and so on. There also should be deliberate collective action to promote a positive role by the institution of the family. The public media also have a critical role to play in promoting social cohesion.
61 Critical elements of a value system based on human solidarity should include pride in social activism and respect for an honest day’s work. They should include social dissuasion against conspicuous consumption, ostentatiousness and corruption. This is part of the ideological engagement that should be a permanent feature of the process of change, involving both the state and civil society.
62 Whether such common social decency is achievable under a capitalist market-based system with its tendency to reproduce underdevelopment and inequality, in a globalised world, is an issue on which society should continually engage its mind. Concrete practice, rather than mere theory, will help answer this question. What is clear though is that such was the symbiosis between political oppression and the apartheid capitalist system that, if decisive action is not taken to deal with economic subjugation and exclusion, the essence of apartheid will remain, with a few black men and women incorporated into the courtyard of privilege. The old fault-lines will persist, and social stability will be threatened.
63 A national democratic society is, by definition, made up of various classes and strata. The NDR seeks to eradicate the specific relations of production that underpinned the national and gender oppression and super-exploitation of the majority of South Africans. It does not eradicate capitalist relations of production in general. It should therefore be expected that in a national democratic society class contradictions and class struggle, particularly between the working class and the bourgeoisie, will play themselves out. As such, a national democratic state will be called upon to regulate the environment in which such contradictions manifest themselves, in the interest of national development including fundamental socio-economic transformation.
64 In broad terms, the NDR seeks to ensure that every South African, especially the poor, experiences an improving quality of life. It seeks to build a developmental state shaped by the history and socio-economic dynamics of South African society. Such a state will guide national economic development and mobilise domestic and foreign capital and other social partners to achieve this goal. It will have attributes that include:
- capacity to intervene in the economy in the interest of higher rates of growth and sustainable development;
- effecting sustainable programmes that address challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment with requisite emphasis on vulnerable groups; and
- mobilising the people as a whole, especially the poor, to act as their own liberators through participatory and representative democracy.
65 The ANC therefore seeks to build democracy with social content, underpinned by a capable developmental state. Informed by our own concrete conditions and experiences, this will, in some respects, reflect elements of the best traditions of social democracy, which include: a system which places the needs of the poor and social issues such as health care, education and a social safety net at the top of the national agenda; intense role of the state in economic life; pursuit of full employment; quest for equality; strong partnership with the trade union movement; and promotion of international solidarity.
66 Most of these objectives are broadly reflected in the Constitution and the National Development Plan (NDP). In many respects, the NDP accords with the objectives of the ANC and its own elaboration of the second phase of transition to a National Democratic Society. However, as elaborated above, the ANC’s ultimate objectives go much further, informed by the strategic posture to build a new civilisation and by the injunctions of the Freedom Charter.
EBBS AND FLOWS IN A FRAUGHT TRANSITION:
CHANGING DOMESTIC BALANCE OF FORCES
67 What is the assessment of progress made in changing South African society? Did the forces of change accurately read the balance of forces; and have they responded appropriately to this balance?
68 Assessment of the balance of forces helps clarify opportunities and constraints in the process of social transformation. The forces of change are thus able to avoid paralysis dictated to by an underestimation of their strengths, or voluntaristic adventurism informed by an overestimation of their power.
69 How did the balance of forces express itself during the transition?
70 In the early years of the democratic dispensation, it became necessary to contain various forces which were bent on frustrating and even reversing the democratisation process. The compromises contained in the ‘sunset clauses’, security operations and reconciliatory assurances to the white community formed part of this arsenal. This tactical approach afforded the liberation movement the possibility to capture a political beach-head, and use it to advance towards the ultimate ideal. In that sense, it was profoundly revolutionary.
71 From the tentativeness of the transition, and armed with an overwhelming electoral mandate and a Constitution that calls for fundamental change, it became possible to start introducing far- reaching programmes of transformation. As South Africa stepped onto the sunshine of non-racial democracy, the legality, legitimacy and authority of the new political system, the nascent state and the new government were incontrovertible.
72 While racist and right-wing forces continued with violent plots to undermine the democratic order, these largely fizzled out within a few years. The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) was embraced by the overwhelming majority of South Africans. The correctness of this approach, and the impact of the programmes of change were affirmed by the increased majorities that the ANC mustered in the two subsequent general elections. Even those opposed to change resorted to the democratic process and legal platforms.
73 There were efforts, through withdrawal from the Government of National Unity and the ‘fight back’ campaign to pander to the base instincts of a white community that felt threatened by change. Elements within the business establishment, remnants of the apartheid judiciary and some media establishments resisted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process and outcomes. This was underpinned by an intense ideological offensive to contest the new dispensation.
74 The democratic government inherited an economy dominated by monopoly capital, with a few white- owned conglomerates owning large swathes of critical sectors. The optimistic assumptions about a post-apartheid dividend were not borne out by reality, as little new investments – both domestic and foreign – flowed into the economy. Instead, several large corporations sought to diversify by relocating their primary listings and headquarters from South Africa. Despite the policy positions articulated by the democratic government, a narrative about policy uncertainty was propagated even beyond the country’s borders. In addition, all manner of obstacles was placed to block new entrants. This aggravated the fiscal and monetary crisis that had afflicted the country during the last days of apartheid.
75 It is against this backdrop that the country started to experience further macroeconomic difficulties, including a run on the currency. The government in 1996 introduced the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy to try and stem the decline. GEAR was a self- imposed programme to manage the persistent and systematic macroeconomic difficulties; though, disingenuously, it was presented as an overarching economic policy.
76 While this balance of forces in the early years of the democratic dispensation slowed down thorough-going transformation, the programmes to improve people’s quality of life had started in earnest. As asserted above, the confidence of the people in the democratic dispensation grew; and political resistance against change was at best akin to whistling in the wind, with the ANC attaining close to 70% of the vote in the 2004 elections.
77 What about the balance of forces beyond the transition?
78 By the turn of the century, the liberation movement had strengthened its grip on the state machinery and, in line with precepts of the Constitution, it could use this machinery to speed up the transformation project. Fiscal expenditure on social and other services grew by leaps and bounds in real terms. Microeconomic reform programmes were introduced. Combined with the windfall of a bustling global economy, growth started to pick up, with the period, 2003 to 2008, experiencing not only high growth rates, but also a significant reduction in the rate of unemployment.
79 Provision of basic services to those previously marginalised intensified; and real improvements were registering in literacy levels, as well as access to health, water, sanitation, subsidised housing and other basic services. Affirmative action assisted in breaking the apartheid racial and gender glass ceiling. The proportion of Black people in middle and upper strata massively increased.
80 At the turn of the second decade of freedom, indicators of social cohesion such as confidence in the future and perceptions of race relations were ticking upwards. Initiatives to forge a social compact found expression in agreements at the 2003 Growth and Development Summit.
81 Combined with all these developments was increased activism within civil society, represented by organs which co-operated with government where there was agreement; but which also challenged it on other issues. To varying degrees, institutions tasked with defending and promoting the Constitution sought to play their role, with the judiciary standing out among them in asserting its independence and a progressive interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution.
82 In a nutshell, well beyond the tenth anniversary of democracy, there was marked progress towards a National Democratic Society. However, there were also fundamental weaknesses, many of which persist to this day.
83 It bears noting that the years of high economic growth did start to expose the inherent weaknesses within the South African economy. Many binding constraints had started to manifest even before the advent of the global economic crisis in 2007. These include the infrastructure deficit, the shortage of skills, weak competition and high mark-ups in the country’s product markets, and a fraught labour relations environment.
84 At the centre of South Africa’s fault-lines is the structure of the economy, trapped as it is in the path dependency of the minerals-energy complex. As a small open economy, with a colonial background, it also reflects subordinate relations with countries of the North. It is characterised by high levels of concentration and centralisation of capital; and small, medium and micro-enterprises do not enjoy the same broad proportion of the GDP as in other developing countries. Over the years, manufacturing has been decimated.
85 As elaborated in the Diagnostic Report of the National Planning Commission, the central challenge is that the economy creates too few jobs and economic opportunities. The education system in general, and the skills programmes in particular, have not addressed the structural weaknesses inherited from apartheid. All this impacts most negatively on youth, women and rural communities.
86 While the fiscal restrictions that GEAR had imposed were abandoned when the macroeconomic situation improved, its impact lingered on, not least in relation to divisions within the liberation alliance. It can also be argued that such areas as the orientation and capacity of State Owned Enterprises, including in skills training, still bear the scars of this strategy.
87 There is welcome, though inadequate, progress in reducing poverty. However, inequality has not been dented. This has shown an uptick even during periods of high economic growth. Instructively, inequality between the races has declined; but this had increased within the Black community, particularly among Africans.
88 Progress was made, over the years, in eliminating manifestations of patriarchy in legislation, the orientation of social programmes, economic empowerment and demographics in positions of authority. However, within the private sector performance in this regard has been woeful; patriarchal attitudes and practices have remained stubbornly negative in workplaces and communities; and discourse on gender issues has mostly been shallow. Similarly, while there is formal recognition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights, the lived experience in most cases defies this formality.
89 It is a matter of conjecture whether, in the decade of the 2000s, the democratic state could have used its legitimacy and the massive electoral endorsement to push for speedier implementation of programmes of change. This would have included firmer enforcement of decisions of the Growth and Development Summit such as a form of prescribed assets through a percentage of ‘investible capital’; stricter adherence to sectoral charters; and more systematic implementation of the skills development and poverty reduction strategies. The land reform programme, including redistribution and restitution, could have been accelerated – using the provisions of the Constitution, rather than being trapped in the ‘willing-seller, willing-buyer’ paradigm.
90 The objective balance of forces allowed for faster change. However, the liberation movement was gripped by the insidious impact of negative subjective factors. Efforts that were initiated in that period fell afoul of factional dynamics within the ANC, which itself baulked at radical organisational re-engineering. In other words, a modest reading of the balance of forces and subjective weaknesses that include assumptions about the sustainability of high growth, as well as frailties within the ANC, let opportunities slip through the liberation movement’s fingers.
91 What are some of the critical attributes of the macrosocial environment and the attendant balance of forces today?
92 Many of the weaknesses outlined above continue to manifest today. These have been aggravated by the global economic crisis which has brought into sharp focus the Achilles heel of the country’s economic structure. The variety of binding constraints identified in the Diagnostic Report of the National Planning Commission are coming out in even bolder relief.
93 Economically, compared to ten years ago, the balance of forces has shifted against the forces of change. The debt burden wears down the fiscus leaving little room for manoeuvre. As a society with a low savings rate, the country is not only heavily dependent on foreign inflows. It lies prostrate and hapless in front of credit ratings agencies. Whatever agitation this may generate, it is all largely of our own making.
94 Objectively, political liberation has presented opportunities to right the historical injustice. Some progress has been made in that direction. South Africans’ quality of life has significantly improved. But the fundamental essence of apartheid colonialism remains.
95 The distribution of income and assets reflects the essence of racial and gender power relations inherited from apartheid. The same applies to management and the professions, particularly in the private sector. The face of poverty is black and/or female. Some of the policies being implemented, such as the spatial arrangements of human settlements, in fact reproduce this state of affairs. Thus, we have in South Africa today political liberation shorn of the fundamental elements of social emancipation. Without deliberate efforts to change this state of affairs, our society can stagnate into a form of ‘neo-colonialism of a special type’.
96 This is not a new discovery. Rather, it expresses the conclusions, variously reached, by a cross- section of society. The proposals in the National Development Plan, the call for an ‘economic CODESA’, and the joint efforts of government, unions and business to put the economy on a higher growth path – all these reflect an appreciation of the common challenges facing society. There may be differences, some of them serious, about what needs to be done; but there is a recognition that current macrosocial dynamics are unsustainable.
97 It is precisely this ‘sixth sense’ that impelled the ANC in 2012 to call for a second phase of transition to a National Democratic Society. Without deliberate and targeted interventions, current social relations can only reproduce themselves.
98 The issue is whether there is sufficient capacity and will for such a step-change! Regrettably, it is exactly at this moment of opportunity to forge a social compact towards Vision 2030, that the ANC and its Alliance partners, as well as the government it leads, are at their weakest since 1994.
99 The ANC faces declining fortunes. Internal squabbles, money politics, corruption and poor performance in government all conspire to undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the broader public. Some progressive formations and individuals who historically have been part of the broad front of forces for change are challenging the movement on important current issues, particularly corruption.
100 While workers have made great strides in campaigning to extend the frontiers of freedom, the level of working class organisation has declined; and the progressive trade union movement is in disarray. The sense of hope in broader society is dissipating. Social cohesion seems to be withering. Rampant selfish interest, in broader society and within the liberation movement, is the stock-in- trade. More and more, an impression of reliance on security agencies is taking root. Instead of being the centre of transformative and ethical rectitude, increasingly the ANC and the government it leads have occasionally to be directed from elsewhere – in the manner of ‘lawfare’ – to do right. The moral suasion that the ANC has wielded to lead society is waning; and the electorate is starting more effectively to assert its negative judgement.
101 The postulation that this is the natural trajectory of liberation politics some two decades after the attainment of freedom misses two fundamental issues. Firstly, weaknesses with a root cause that can be identified, especially if they are subjective, should be corrected rather than being accepted as the natural order of things. Secondly, electoral performance in a transforming society such as ours is not for its own sake. It is about social emancipation and the quality of life of especially the poor.
102 The weakening of the ANC, which still contains the main ingredients of the glue that holds South African society together (at least in its formal policy posture), can undermine the state and the democratic system as a whole. With optimism and hope among the people squandered, the social tinder of old and new contradictions can explode in a raging fire. Urgent organisational renewal and intensified action towards a National Democratic Society are required.
103 Given the experiences of the past few years, the question does indeed arise whether the process of fundamental change in South Africa is irreversible! There is no simple answer to this question.
104 The motive forces of change – the classes and strata which objectively stand to benefit from fundamental transformation – still desire such change and are prepared to work for it. It may well be that many of these forces are starting to lose confidence in the capacity and will on the part of the ANC to lead such a project. But this does not mean that they have abandoned their profound self-interest. In fact, it is testimony to the hegemony of the liberation ideal that even parties historically opposed to fundamental change have sought, at least in their public posture, to embrace both the content and symbols of reconstruction and development. In addition, pretentious radical left rhetoric has found fertile ground within significant sections of the electorate.
105 On the other hand, there is the possibility that the mass of the people can, bycommission or omission, precipitate an electoral outcome that places into positions of authority, forces that can stealthily and deceitfully chip away at the progressive realisation of a National Democratic Society. The Constitution and bodies meant to protect and defend it may serve as a bulwark against open and frontal undercutting of social change; but on their own, they cannot prevent an insidious slackening or even reversal of revolutionary transformation. Further, it cannot altogether be ruled out that the liberation movement itself can be so corrupted – in terms of its objectives, policies, value systems as well as composition and conduct of its leadership
– that it becomes a bed of counter-revolutionary infestation. Given its historical standing in society and besides the electoral outcomes referred to above, this may result in the delegitimisation and destabilisation of the democratic polity in its entirety.
106 Whether, and how, this can unfold, depends fundamentally on social agency.
CENTRALITY OF SOCIAL AGENCY: THE MOTIVE FORCES OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION
107 Social change requires social agency. This applies more so to the fundamental transformation of an oppressive social system and the construction of a new equitable order.
108 The political act of transfer of power requires the action of social groups that stand to benefit from such change. The construction of a new system, however, is not always a consequence of conscious action. In history, there have been instances in which the change in social relations developed within the womb of the old system. The political revolution thus came about as a culmination of economic processes that had been under way. Under new political managers, the new socio- economic system would further evolve with time.
109 The National Democratic Revolution differs from this experience because the emergence of the new system, a National Democratic Society, starts with the attainment of political power. It is a conscious act of construction. The forces that coalesced to remove the old order must endure yet another protracted process of conscious action before their ideals are realised. Informed by a correct reading of the balance of forces, and optimally organised, they can move with speed towards their goal. But it is also possible that, by commission or omission, they can have missteps and thus delay or subvert the process of social transformation.
110 It is against this background that the notion of motive forces occupies an important place in the fashioning of strategy and tactics. As during the years of struggle, the ANC sees itself as the organised vanguard with the responsibility of educating, organising and mobilising these drivers of change to act in their profound self-interest. Because of the seamless continuity between the struggle against apartheid colonialism and the process of building a new society, activism among the motive forces – with new tasks under new conditions – is fundamental.
111 The system of racial oppression, class super- exploitation and patriarchal domination gave rise to resistance by Black people. They were denied political rights, economically marginalised and subjugated in the most brutal ways, and as women, subjected to triple oppression in terms of their race, social status and gender.
112 Historically, the ANC asserted that the motive forces of the revolution were Black people in general and Africans in particular. Why the distinction, the question is often asked. In simple terms, this is because in the cynical hierarchy of apartheid oppression, Africans occupied the lowest rung on the social ladder. They were therefore impelled to act more determinedly to change society. Their liberation, it can be argued, was and still is a condition for the liberation of all South Africans. White privilege, however, rested also on the oppression and marginalisation of Coloured and Indian communities; and much of the legacy of apartheid colonialism continues to manifest in these communities as well. In class terms, these motive forces were made up of Black workers and the rural poor, the middle strata, and real or aspirant capitalists.
113 The system, by definition, privileged and benefited the white community as a whole. The workers, middle strata and capitalists in this community in large measure united in its defence. Monopoly capital, made up of local and foreign corporations controlling large chunks of the economy, was identified as the primary enemy of the NDR.
114 It should be emphasised, though, that objectively having a particular social status and interests does not on its own translate into transformative consciousness. This should be cultivated through both education and actual involvement in the process of change. Thus, there were exceptions which, so to speak, proved the rule: in the form of collaborators from the Black community and white patriots who abandoned their socio- political station to take part in the struggle for freedom. Under Colonialism of a Special Type, with a white settler community that had embraced South Africa as their (then exclusive) home, the liberation movement also argued that the long- term interests of the white community lay in the liberation of their Black country-men and women.
115 More than twenty years into democracy, does this analysis still hold? As asserted in earlier Chapters of this document, our approach to transformation should be guided by macrosocial reality. To recapitulate:
- South Africans have attained political liberation with the principle of equal human rights guaranteed in the basic law of the land.
- Since 1994, the state has been gradually transformed to serve all the people.
- Progress has been made in extending basic services to the majority; but the quality of services and working conditions remains poor, and apartheid spatial economic and settlement patterns largely remain.
- Poverty, in terms of income and assets, has been reduced; but Black people continue, disproportionately, to endure massive privations.
- Inequality remains stubborn, and distribution of assets and income, as well as management and the professions particularly in the private sector, are dominated by white males.
- All this, and more, underline the fact that critical attributes of colonial social relations endure.
116 It stands to reason, therefore, that the forces which coalesced in the struggle for liberation across the African, Coloured and Indian communities – as well as white democrats – need still to work together to eradicate this legacy. But they do so in an environment which is changing.
117 Black workers – employed and unemployed, urban and rural – remain the main motive force of the process of change. This is not an assertion of ideological preference; but a reflection of social reality. Because of their position in the economy and other social endeavours, the mass of the workers makes society tick. In the mines, the factories, the banks, state-owned enterprises, the courts, public and private security agencies, government departments, parliament, private homes and so on, they carry the burdens of society. They have, over the years, developed a keen sense of their aspirations and those of broader society; and have organised and mobilised for thoroughgoing change.
118 Today, they are called upon to continue playing a leadership role. They have a responsibility keenly to understand the evolving environment, including technological and generational changes, and to develop organisational approaches that accord with this reality. Their tasks also include: advancing unity of the working class and gradually transcending racial divisions; pursuing decent work and a decent standard of living for all; ensuring a reasonable minimum wage; contributing to state transformation and efficient provision of services; promoting changes to the structure of the economy and advancing broad- based economic empowerment. To play this role, they need to have advanced theoretical and organisational capacity, clear articulation of ideals, and the ability to identify and pursue the common interests of broader society.
119 The rural poor form part of the working class. Many of them are vulnerable workers on farms, unemployed or engaged in survivalist economic activities. Through systematic dispossession, apartheid colonialism decimated the African peasantry, reducing vast rural settlements into sources of cheap labour. Their tasks include those of the working class in general; but they also must focus on land reform and restitution; protection of the constitutional rights of all, including women, in so-called communal areas; and implementation of targeted poverty-reduction programmes.
120 The rise of the Black middle strata is a positive development which accords with the broader objectives of social transformation. These strata include the intelligentsia, professionals and small business operators. Expansion of access to education, including post-school opportunities, and empowerment programmes across society, have seen to massive increases in their numbers. Contradictory trends have played out in relation to this. Firstly, given that most of these strata are first-generation incumbents, their social position is tenuous, and this may subtract from their potential for social activism. Secondly, many within these strata are not dependent on state largesse; and so, act autonomously in relation to electoral politics: a fickleness that brings to the fore issues such as value systems and brand image. Thirdly, an element of these strata has emerged through the political arena, lending a desperation to political contestation that poses a mortal danger to social transformation.
121 Located in various areas of social endeavour, the middle strata have a critical role to play. Within the economy, they are meant to be a catalyst to the campaign for economic transformation in a manner that transcends the narrow self-interest of elite empowerment. They are critical to service provision. It is largely from within this sector that comprehensive analysis of society and creative ideas about change are meant to issue, through such platforms as the universities, the media and the arts. In this context, their ideological frames of reference should consciously disavow the colonial paradigm. Given their location in society, the Black middle strata also have the responsibility of spreading transformative ideas across the colour- line.
122 Compared to the period of the apartheid glass ceiling, the Black capitalist group has grown by leaps and bounds. This is an achievement of the programme of social transformation, reflecting progress – albeit slow and tentative – in de-racialisation of ownership of the means of production. The core interests of this group are keenly tied up to continuing social change. But it does also reflect some of the contradictory attributes outlined above in relation to the middle strata. Further, some of these forces rely solely on the state procurement process for their sustenance. Many among these thus display attributes of a bureaucratic bourgeoisie, with corrupt practices including attempts to capture institutions of political and state authority for selfish ends. Yet others have risen with the largesse of the established white business community, and would thus evince comprador tendencies of dependence on and unthinking defence of the untransformed economic status quo. The campaign for ‘radical’ economic transformation entails more than the narrow self-interest of this group to amass more wealth. It should encompass efforts to change the structure of the economy to advance manufacturing and beneficiation, investment of more resources in productive activities, and comprehensive broad-based economic empowerment. It therefore behoves the Black capitalist group to appreciate that their own narrow advancement in a manner that deepens social inequality will yield the same bitter fruit of social conflict.
123 Black women form an inseparable part of these drivers of change. Besides suffering intense privations, they are burdened with the responsibility to nurture families and carry out domestic unpaid labour. This applies more so to rural women who not only suffer extreme hardships due to the migratory labour system, but are in many respects, pillars of rural communities. Women’s efforts to advance themselves contend with a triple glass ceiling of race, class and gender. They carry the responsibility to make the cause of social transformation more humane and more caring. As such, they should lead in educating and mobilising all of society against patriarchal power relations, which know no colour.
124 Young people, similarly, straddle these motive forces either in their own right or as part of families. The tonic of youth resides in their capacity to be a lightning rod for positive disruptive change. Their impatience, militancy and imprudence are a disadvantage if improperly deployed. But these attributes can also stand transforming societies in good stead especially during moments of inertia and excessive risk-aversion. They are expected to lend militancy to the various sites of struggle. But to do so in a meaningful way, they need to arm themselves with theoretical knowledge about the strategy and tactics of fundamental transformation, to eschew arrogance and to learn by doing. It is also critical to counter extreme right- and left-wing populist mobilisation among the youth.
125 This characterisation of the motive forces and their tasks proceeds from the perspective of the objective benefit that these forces derive from social transformation. If, as historically asserted, the long-term interests of the white community lie in the liberation of their Black fellow citizens, is this not starting to manifest, more than two decades into the democratic dispensation?
126 Unlike before, support for a non-racial constitutional order is shared across the racial divide. Many in the white community have come to appreciate that their interests are indeed intimately linked to the interests of their Black compatriots. Greater inter-racial interaction and processes of acculturation, the intersection of class interests across the racial divide especially among middle and upper strata, and the gradual impact of programmes of civic and formal education have seen to this.
127 However, the class interests of a community that historically enjoyed privileges which continue to advantage them across generations, does put a damper on this tendency. All manner of rationalisation is used to justify entitlement to historical privilege; and a trickle-down approach to change rather than actual transformation is punted. In voting patterns, virtually all white voters support parties that, in various historical periods, identified with variants of white privilege. Today, contestation around these issues takes place within the framework of the Constitution, and it forms part of legitimate political discourse. Further, in an attempt to fish from a bigger electoral pond, parties popular within these communities are repositioning themselves to embrace, or be seen to embrace, the basic ideas of change.
128 This happens in a period in which significant sections of the motive forces seem to have lost confidence in the capacity and will of the ANC to carry out the agenda of social transformation. As elaborated earlier, the 2016 election results do suggest that, through non-participation or a vote mainly for splinters from the ANC, electoral allegiances are shifting. This is a consequence mainly of subjective weaknesses within the ANC. An examination of the professed positions of the largest parties leads to the conclusion that these sections of the motive forces have not abandoned their support for fundamental change. In some instances, their electoral choices, however misplaced, reflect a sense of impatience and urgency. In other words, some among the motive forces contend that continuing social transformation does not necessarily require ANC leadership as such.
129 How then do we characterise monopoly capital in relation to the task of building a National Democratic Society?
130 The concept of monopoly capital – along with monopoly capitalism and monopolies – is used, as an economic category, in general and political economics to describe capitalism at a certain stage of development. It refers to levels of concentration and centralisation of capital and the conduct of dominant entities in a variety of settings.
131 Because of the colonial nature of the evolution of South African capitalism, monopoly entities emerged to dominate various sectors of the economy. These were overwhelmingly white and had close links with global multinational corporations. Blacks were, by law, not allowed to own any significant economic assets.
132 Today, many sectors of the South African economy are dominated by monopolies, both local and foreign. Some of South Africa’s large corporations have shifted their primary listings to foreign shores. While the structure of monopoly ownership has changed, with greater foreign participation and higher levels of investment by institutions such as pension funds, direct ownership by Black people is woefully low.
133 The South African economy, in general, is characterised by white and male dominance – in terms of assets and income; composition of management, the professions and the Boards; as well as institutional culture. This, naturally, generates much resentment among the marginalised, and is a source of social dissonance. However, white dominance should not be conflated with the concept of monopoly capital as an economic category.
134 Monopoly capital does present major challenges to the cause of social transformation. Indeed, as argued in the 2007 ANC Strategy and Tactics document, there is much in the nature and behaviour of monopolies that has the effect of constraining higher rates of growth and skewing development. These include monopoly pricing and other forms of rent-seeking, selfish import parity pricing, barriers to entry and a value system based on greed and crass materialism. These attributes apply across the board, irrespective of the colour of the owners. The National Democratic Society that we seek to build encourages competition, promotes sustainable labour-absorbing activity and discourages rent-seeking.
135 The relationship between the national democratic state and all private capital, including monopoly capital, is one of ‘unity and struggle’, co- operation and contestation. On the one hand, the democratic state seeks to create an environment conducive for private investments from which investors can make reasonable returns, and through which employment and technological progress can be derived. On the other hand, through state-owned enterprises, licensing and regulation, taxation, procurement, activism by competition authorities, combatting of illicit financial flows and other means, the state seeks to attain a variety of transformative objectives. These include redistribution of income; further changing the structure of ownership in favour of Black people, workers, women and communities; directing investments into areas that promote national development; and provision of public goods primarily by the state. The balance between ‘unity’ and ‘struggle’ will be dictated to by the overall strategic imperatives of the NDR and requirements of specific phases of transition to a National Democratic Society.
136 The organisation and mobilisation of the motive forces are fundamental to the current task of speeding up the process of social transformation. Beyond this, it is necessary to identify common interests among critical sectors of society, in the manner of shifting concentric circles of a broad front, to pursue the country’s long-term vision. It is also necessary to take into account increasing intertwining of Black and white interests along class lines. In this context, as the National Democratic Society takes shape, the national question will recede as a driving force for continuing change and class issues will assume greater prominence.
137 What then should be the organisational expression of political leadership of the process of social transformation; and can the ANC still claim this mantle?
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP OF THE PROCESS OF CHANGE:
ENHANCING THE INTEGRITY AND ROLE OF THE ANC
138 In the process of social transformation, as during theyears of struggle, the motive forces organise and act jointly and severally to attain their objectives. Such joint action requires a political movement with a vision that reflects the common interests of these forces. This vision is encapsulated in the notion of a National Democratic Society.
139 Through the ebbs and flows of changing historical settings, the ANC has endeavoured to play this role. Ultimately, using various forms of struggle, it emerged as the primary force in the struggle against apartheid, the vanguard of the NDR. This status was further underlined by the organisation’s electoral performance from the first democratic elections in 1994.
140 The nature of the society that the ANC pursues, reflecting the best attributes of a developmental state and social democracy, locates the organisation as a disciplined force of the Left. It is inspired by a social humanism that reflects deep empathy for the poor, and it recognises the leadership role of the working class in the project of social transformation. Having identified patriarchy as a critical element of the oppressive system, the ANC places a high premium on gender equality
141 Arising from both theory and praxis, and learning from the experiences of other anti-colonial struggles, the ANC seeks to avoid the danger of liberation effortsthatstall at political independence, with little change in the social conditions of the majority. It recognises that the ‘invisible hand of the market’ is incapable of undoing the social relations that colonialism forged. Informed by principle and a continuous reading of the balance of forces, the ANC also seeks to avoid ultra-left adventurism and ‘revolutionary leaps’ that may in fact result in the defeat of the revolution.
142 The process of social transformation plays out in various centres of power. These consist of the state, the economy, mass organisation, the contestation of ideas and international work. For them to act as agents of change, ANC cadres need to be located in all these centres, exercising leadership not by decree or through arrogance; but in terms of the logic of their ideas, through their organisational acumen and from exemplary conduct. Honesty, hard work, humility, ethics and respect for the people are some of the core attributes that they should evince.
143 Integrating the common aspirations of the motive forces into a common vision, is a challenge that the ANC has continuously to address. This is proceeding from the understanding that the unity of the motive forces is fundamental for success. At the same time, the ultimate objective of a united and prosperous society dictates that the ANC should reach beyond its narrow social base to persuade all South Africans about their common long-term interests. It should continually seek to forge a social compact – a broad national front – for mutual benefit. This requires deft management of contradictions in broader society and even among the motive forces themselves. It requires the capacity not only to ensure progressive and transformative governance; but also, creativity in handling electoral dynamics, including management of caucuses in legislatures, and the politics of coalitions and opposition.
144 In giving leadership in the various centres of power, the ANC should act as the integrative forum for its cadres located in these centres. The wisdom that comes out of such collective reflection and deliberation should guide these cadres wherever they are located. In other words, from the branch level to the national structures, the ANC should act as the strategic centre of power for its members, learning from, and in turn guiding activities across, society.
145 A strategic centre of power should command both legitimacy and authority, deriving from the quality of its collective ideas and the discipline of its members. It should ensure that its mandate is carried out by its members, wherever they are located. It should be able to monitor and evaluate the implementation of its policies. When and where there are weaknesses – whether these are a result of poor policies, weak implementation or poor leadership – it should be able to act decisively.
146 The ANC deems it necessary to organise women, youth and veterans into constitutional structures of the organisation subject to its policies but with organisational autonomy. These constituents in the ANC’s organisational system have specific tasks and responsibilities.
147 The Women’s League is tasked with focussing the ANC and society at large on the struggle against patriarchy. It is meant to lead in the education and mobilisation of ANC members, women and men alike. Given the blatant and insidious manifestations of patriarchy across society, the Women’s League should act as the voice not only of women members of the ANC, but of the mass of South African women in a broad front for gender transformation and general societal change. The League conducts this work proceeding from the perspective that women’s rights are human rights; and that a caring society should attend to the needs of the most vulnerable.
148 The Youth League has the responsibility of harnessing the energies of young people to lend vigour and dynamism to the process of social transformation. It acts as a school for imparting theory and practical experience to young people who align themselves with the policies of the ANC. Guided by the strategy, tactics and policies of the movement, the League is tasked with organising and campaigning around issues of special interest to young people and broader questions of social transformation. To play this role, the League must have discipline of thought and action, the courage to try new things and the humility to drink from the well of the liberation movement’s collective experience.
149 The Veterans’ League was set up as a constitutional formation some fifteen years after the unbanning of the ANC. Experience then had pointed to the need to harness the wisdom of the collective of older generations of ANC members. This repository of collective memory, knowledge and insight burnished in the crucible of struggle is tasked with reflection, assessment, critique and advice to help keep the organisation on the revolutionary straight and narrow. The veterans’ frank and honest counsel is critical for the ANC to maintain and strengthen its conceptual and organisational integrity.
150 The ANC recognises the need to weave together the revolutionary-democratic, socialist and trade union strands of the broad liberation front into a tight alliance of formations that share a common approach towards the NDR and its objectives. Besides the strong bonds forged during the years of struggle against apartheid colonialism, the ANC appreciates that the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the progressive trade union movement (now represented by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU) are committed to thorough-going transformation. They are a critical political and sectoral voice of the working class, which the ANC recognises as a leader of the motive forces. The Tripartite Alliance forms the core of the broad national liberation front.
151 In the current phase, the need for, and role of, this revolutionary alliance is indisputable. However, the forms that the Alliance can and should assume require further reflection, in the light of experience under the democratic dispensation. This relates to the balance between formality and informality in relation both to the content of the common platform and organisational systems. Further, how the ANC advances unity of progressive trade unions, including those located outside COSATU ranks, is a matter that a vanguard should creatively address. This is inspired, ultimately, by the objective not only to forge unity among progressive trade unions; but also, to pursue unity of the working class and the principle of ‘one industry, one union’ and ‘one country, one federation’.
152 Leadership of the motive forces includes contributing to the formation of, and co- operation with, progressive structures of civil society: including in communities and among youth, women, students, people with disability, the religious community, issue-based campaigns, traditional leaders and the business community. A critical stratum in this regard is the intellectual community whose capacities must be harnessed to enrich critical thinking and mitigate the ‘echo chamber’ effect.
153 In as much as the status of vanguard is earned and not decreed, the ANC also does recognise that it carries out its objectives within a constitutional paradigm of a law-governed society. Necessarily and as a deliberate act on the part of the mothers and fathers of our democracy, the Constitution and relevant legislation do place limits on the exercise of state power. As such, in seeking to give leadership to society, the ANC profoundly understands that this must be done within the confines of the basic law of the land. This is a critical principle which is in the immediate and long-term interest of the ANC itself.
154 Since 1994, the organisation’s electoral performance has largely affirmed the correctness of its approach and thus, in broad terms, its vanguard status.
155 Yet in this period, many negative tendencies have crept into the conduct of ANC members and leaders. Political incumbency has resulted in a situation in which public representatives of the motive forces are socially elevated from the mass of the people, thus creating ‘social distance’ between the leaders and their constituents. Incumbency also means access to powerful instruments of state and massive resources. This creates fertile ground for corruption and a vicious cycle of illicit mutual dependence between some private and public sector elites.
156 Post-1994, these aberrations started off as exceptions requiring tactical interventions. Now, deviant conduct has become deeply entrenched; and arrogance, factionalism and corruption have been identified by large sections of society, including ANC supporters, as dominant tendencies within the movement. Gate-keeping, money politics and fraud characterise most ANC electoral processes. Underhand practices increasingly define interactions between various spheres of government and the private sector; and private interests seek to capture and control not only state organs, but also the ANC itself.
157 Not surprisingly, the motive forces of the revolution have started more clearly to deliver their judgement on these negative tendencies.
158 This is unfolding against the backdrop of splinter- parties from the ANC and a broader opposition appropriating the language and symbols of change. With a fracturing progressive trade union movement and ANC and SACP members implicated in some of these factional battles, the revolutionary fulcrum has started to wobble. The standing of the liberation movement in the eyes of society has been lowered.
159 At the same time, natural allies among the intelligentsia, in the religious community and other sectors, and even within veterans of the movement, have sought to coalesce outside of the ANC, in opposition to deviant conduct that has become intolerable. The very opposite of vanguard leadership has been playing out, as a factional ANC leadership becomes narrower and narrower in its appeal, less and less dignified in its bearing and more and more shrill in its tone.
160 An uncompromising fight against these aberrations is a matter of strategic priority. This is the main organisational mission of the ANC in the current conjuncture, for its own survival as a vanguard movement.
161 Moments of low ebbs in the ANC’s history have left the abiding lesson that a singular commitment to the people’s aspirations, decisiveness, courage and a dogged determination are critical in dealing with inertia and decline. Beneficiaries of negative tendencies within the ANC’s own ranks are bound to resist. When the weaknesses are deep-rooted, it takes time and much effort to turn the situation around.
162 What are the critical interventions required? The ANC needs to demonstrate in actual practice its commitment to speeding up fundamental transformation. For this, it should shore up its own capacity, honestly identify and correct its weaknesses and revitalise its public image. Bland reassurances that are then negated by the very conduct of leaders and members will worsen the decline; and, among the people, they will merely generate irreverent humour.
163 The integrity of the ANC, as an organisation, needs to be enhanced at four levels.
164 Firstly, self-correction should include efforts to revitalise and shore up the visionary and policy integrity of the movement. This requires clarity of purpose and the merger of theory and practice. Against the backdrop of a changing society and political opponents that seek to appropriate the language of change, reliance on technical number- crunching about quantitative elements of ‘delivery’ will not do. Transformation should find expression in the articulation of a long-term vision of a new civilisation of social relations in the southern tip of Africa, in speedier implementation of programmes of fundamental change and in improving the quality of outcomes. Combined, these should help define the lofty ‘discriminator’ that sets the ANC apart.
165 Secondly, the ANC should implement an intensive programme to restore the integrity of systems of managing membership and leadership. From the processes of joining the movement to the operation of branches and higher structures, there should be mechanisms of sifting quality and of ongoing improvement in the orientation and character of members. The strategic centre of power should exercise collective authority over members and leaders alike. That authority should derive from principles, policies and decisions collectively arrived at. Defiance of these precepts should be sanctioned through processes that are resolute, just and impartial. The Integrity Committee(s) need to play a more activist role.
166 The third area of strategic intervention is about leadership integrity. This relates primarily to criteria and processes of selecting leaders. Leadership collectives should, as a whole, reflect the motive forces of change and the various centres of power. This should help burst ‘the bubble of professional politics’ in these collectives: a bubble in which government functionaries and full-time ANC employees operate as if in an echo chamber, thus widening the social distance from the rest of society. The various terrains of social endeavour, gender, age and other criteria must be taken into account. Leadership integrity also relates to criteria to qualify for such responsibility, including length and quality of service, as well as ideological, academic and ethical attributes. In this regard, lifestyle audits by structures in which the membership has confidence is critical.
167 In the fourth instance, the integrity of technical systems is an area requiring strategic intervention. This includes improvement of the membership system, utilisation of information and communications technologies as technical infrastructure for management of membership and as indispensable platforms of internal and public communication in the current age. Creative ways of membership interaction over and above branch meetings should be devised. Such modernisation also requires generational change in the composition of membership and leadership, with socially-conscious, loyal, capable, educated and honest young people finding space across all echelons. The system should allow for various entry-points in this regard, rather than just the narrow organisational channels that lend themselves to gate-keeping and manipulation. ANC electoral processes should be more transparent, with rules that include systems of vetting, interaction between candidates and the broad membership, as well as do’s and don’ts that are strictly observed.
168 These are the strategic interventions required to stem the decline that the ANC has been experiencing. There are many more, in the detail, that can be identified; and as the situation changes, emphasis in their application will similarly change. The fundamental issue is that, without a decisive programme to correct the debilitating weaknesses, the ANC faces the danger of losing the core attributes that afforded it the responsibility and privilege to act as leader of society.
169 To implement these strategic interventions of re-engineering, renewal and regeneration – consistently and without fear or favour – extra-ordinary courage and determination are required, from National Conferences as the highest constitutional structure to the branches. In the various phases of such a programme, there will also be need carefully to strike the right balance between quantity and quality, in terms of membership.
THE WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE: ASSESSING THE GLOBAL BALANCE OF FORCES
170 As an important site of the global project to build humane social relations, and as a small open economy, South Africa needs to pay keen attention to the global socio-political environment. Besides this, the country’s geographic location and the abundance of its natural resources render it a location of interest to the global community. Indeed, the liberation struggle and South Africa’s political transition, owed their positive or negative attributes in large measure to the contradictory global balance of forces, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s.
171 The world, currently, is characterised by primary unipolarity and secondary multipolarity.
172 On the one hand, capitalism is the dominant social system. This system does have variants in different parts of the globe, ranging from developmental states and social welfarism to rapacious domination by poorly regulated markets. China and Vietnam
– the major countries propounding socialist ideology – are interlinked in an intractable web of mutual dependence with the capitalist world; and they argue for a prolonged period of development of productive forces before socialism can be attained. Added to this is the military dominance of the United States hyper-power. Combined, all these factors underline the primary unipolarity.
173 On the other hand, afewcountries in the developing world, particularly in East Asia have experienced high rates of growth over a generation and more. This has resulted in developmental convergence and the shift in regional economic power balances. At the same time, regional and inter-regional blocs have emerged or consolidated, including the European Union, Eurasian Economic Union, BRICS, the Gulf Council and others. While some of these blocs have a subordinate relationship with the dominant global hyper-power, there are often contradictions. They do serve as a counterweight, limited as this may be. Combined, these factors characterise the secondary multipolarity.
174 At the centre of humanity’s development is the changing nature of global production processes. With advances in technology, it has become possible for companies to disperse various elements of production and services across the globe and to operate as a unit in real time. Research, advanced manufacturing components and relevant intellectual property can be located in the developed countries, while assembly and packaging can be undertaken in geographies with cheap labour. Instructively, some of the countries that became ‘workshops of the world’ have themselves moved up the sophistication ladder and improved the conditions of their workers; and rolling migration of production sites continues.
175 Over the past three decades, the world has experienced an explosion of technological advances with massive potential to improve the human condition. Information and communications technology, bio-technologies, genetics and the science of small particles (nano- technology) have opened many frontiers of progress in health sciences, agriculture, space exploration and other sectors. Along with this, robotics, three-dimensional (3D) printing, the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence hold out the possibility of redefining, in a fundamental way, the nature of work. What overall impact the fusion of these advanced technologies in the physical, digital and biological spheres – the so-called fourth industrial revolution – will have on humanity’s quality of life is still a matter of conjecture.
176 In terms of their potential, these advances are boon for humanity. But how they are owned, managed and let loose on society can have devastating consequences. The danger is that these successes of human civilisation are being appropriated by a few, in spite of the fact that many of them originated from, or with the variegated support of, public institutions. They can be directed to benefit a small layer of society, with the mass of the people condemned as surplus to humanity. Many of the technological advances lend themselves to cynical military and intelligence applications. While agreements have been forged on sustainable development, environmental degradation continues.
177 The global economic crisis which started with the financial meltdown of the late 2000s has brought all these issues out in bold relief. At the centre of the crisis is the dominance of finance capital and its tendency towards self-perpetuation as a system virtually parallel to the real economy. As money chases its operatives to beget more money, all manner of complex derivatives and trades are devised. Large financial institutions become even larger, ‘too big to fail’. Their adventurism, some of it through computer algorithms, is either unsighted to regulators or condoned with a nod and a wink. All this precipitated a global crisis from which it is difficult to emerge.
178 There have been ebbs and flows over the past ten years, and some countries have recovered, albeit at lower rates of growth. Countries such as India have sought to assume the mantle of global locomotive. However, the danger of global secular stagnation remains as stark as ever; and the economic reconfiguration in China will take a few years to mature.
179 At the centre of humanity’s challenges is the fundamental question of political economy, the distribution of income. According to some research, globally, more wealth is owned by the richest one-percent than the rest of humanity; and ‘eight men now own the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the world’ (Oxfam: 2017). In many developed countries, large swathes of the population have in the recent period experienced stagnant incomes and a declining quality of life. The trend towards greater inequality plays out even in some of those countries that have extricated hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. While Latin America had made progress in reducing inequality, this is now under threat, due to unsustainable policies in the midst of the global economic crisis, instances of corruption and the rise of right-wing governments.
180 The crisis of capitalism also finds expression in the collapse of ethics, or greater public exposure of such unethical conduct. From ‘cooking of the books’, wilful violation of financial regulations, vehicle devices to circumvent environmental regulations, to massive and undeserved packages to many executives and, in some instances, actual looting of the fiscus – all these developments have undermined the legitimacy of many polities in the eyes of the majority of citizens.
181 In other words, the global system of social relations is facing a poly-crisis. Besides the socio-economic challenges, waves of migrants are pouring into the developed countries, escaping conflicts and social circumstances which are to a large extent the creation of destinations in which they aspire to settle. It is matter of serious concern that, in virtually all the conflict areas, such as Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the Maghreb and the Sahel in Africa, it is precisely the unilateral interventions of major Western powers that have worsened the situation.
182 Everywhere and in each instance, the so-called ‘war on terror’ seems to transmute into a multiplication of terrorism – the deliberate targeting of civilians in armed conflict. Core causal factors such as the marginalisation of youth, racism, xenophobia, ill-advised attempts at regime change and the Palestinian conflict are reduced to an afterthought.
183 As these crises worsen, selfish geopolitics and a security-based approach to social challenges take centre stage. New enemies and areas of tension are conjured up, from Eastern Europe to the China Seas. And so, the security-industrial (military-industrial-intelligence) complex identifies haystacks in which it can forage. In this way, it is able to amass reasons for its sustenance and increased funding, for both domestic and global operations.
184 An element of the poly-crisis is also the dearth of truly strategic leadership. Dominant ideological approaches seek to channel countries, regions and indeed all of humanity into one school of thought. Yet, establishment social sciences – including economics, politics, public communication and opinion surveys – lie scattered like flotsam in a sea of incredulity. They have been shattered by the lived experience of most of humanity. Neo-liberalism has lost its shine, and arguments for weak non-interventionist states have been exposed by responses of their very champions to the financial meltdown.
185 As with the application of technology, the organising philosophy of ‘technical globalisation’ can be bent towards collective human advantage. What is required is an alternative narrative and activism in favour of the commons. However, in most parts of the world, counter-hegemonic ideas are confined to insurgencies incapable of breaking out of confined spaces.
186 This has created opportunities for right-wing jingoists to step into the vacuum. Armed with hare-brained ideas, they seek to turn back the clock of globalisation. They deliberately create a false sense of security while evading the fundamental question of political economy on the root causes of social inequality. In this way, they have been able to corral working class constituencies behind their chauvinistic projects. Combined with militarism in geo-politics and security-centred approaches in domestic policy, these developments threaten security and stability on a global scale.
187 It is in this context that humanity at large, particularly the poor and vulnerable across the globe, are pitted against each other: through ill-advised efforts to resuscitate protectionism and trade wars, including an aggressive nationalistic mercantilism; through a race to the bottom in terms of taxation, worker rights and environmental degradation; through cynical manipulation of religion; through the scourge of racism and through geo-political provocations. Multilateralism is in danger; and the worst in human history threatens to repeat itself.
188 Where does Africa feature in all this?
189 During the past two decades, the combination of a bustling global economy and a new corps of continental leaders with peoples’ interests at heart set the stage for the revival of African economies and improvement in the quality of life in most countries.
190 By the turn of the second decade of the century, seven of the fastest growing economies in the world were located in Africa. While the global economic crisis negatively affected most African countries, the Africa Rising narrative seems still to capture a long-term trend. Africa’s trade with the rest of the world has grown massively; foreign debt has declined; and labour productivity has improved. Critically, these advances have found expression in such social indicators as improved income, lower rates of unemployment, reduction in poverty, higher rates of enrolment in primary education, and lower rates of under-five mortality.
191 Ebbs and flows of commodity prices and isolated negative incidents in the political arena do not subtract from the new trajectory the continent has set itself. As articulated in Agenda 2063, Africa seeks to attain prosperity based on sustainable development, democracy and citizen activism, good and ethical governance, as well as multifaceted integration and peace. This vision builds on earlier initiatives to bring about an African renaissance. Infrastructure programmes and consumer spending are expected to intensify. Agriculture is expected to benefit from the fact that 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land is found on the continent. Already, as in banking and communications, the continent is showing signs of leapfrogging some stages of technological development. Several countries are actively taking advantage of off-shoring of production sites to become part of global manufacturing value chains.
192 The continent, though, needs to draw relevant lessons from weaknesses that have been exposed by the global economic crisis. These include issues to do with macroeconomic management, diversity in the economic structure including capacity to process raw materials, social inequality, the scourges of patronage and corruption and the escalation of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Formal democratic processes need to be underpinned by citizen activism and the mind- set to accommodate differences, be they ethnic, racial, religious or party political. This should be reinforced by common security strategies which include firm action against those who violate the principles of the African Union, and the pooling of sovereignty against wilful and unmandated external military interventions on the continent. Africa’s global strategies should be informed, first and foremost, by Africa’s own interests.
193 The fate of South Africa is inextricably linked to the continent’s future. Indeed, the progress that the continent has made in the past twenty years has rebounded to South Africa’s advantage. This is reflected in investment, trade, the innovation system, peace operations and so on. However, South Africa needs to develop and implement a clear Africa strategy which includes well-thought- out approaches to the division of labour and targeted partnerships. Critically, Africa Rising will succeed only if there are reliable law-governed processes to manage investment relations.
194 Though there may be ebbs and flows, the ANC proceeds from the optimistic and realistic assessment that Africa is set on a new course of rapid economic growth and development. It promotes African integration and the alignment of developmental programmes across the continent.
195 This outlook also informs the organisation’s approach to global relations, underpinned by the desire to build a peaceful and humane world order. In this regard, the ANC seeks to work closely with forces that pursue sustainable development, higher rates of investment and job-creation, reduction in inequality, and peace. In the current fraught global environment, the ANC will intensify its campaign for rules-based trade and other economic relations, equitable bilateral relations among all countries and reform of multilateral institutions. Across the many global alliances our country has forged, including BRICS, the ANC will continually seek to enhance its understanding of the fluidity of political and economic dynamics within the partner-countries so as optimally to pursue our people’s and Africa’s interests. It will continue actively to campaign against terrorism, militarism, selfish geo-political pursuits and inequitable systems of global governance.
196 This it will do proceeding from the understanding that the balance of forces in the global arena is not immutable. It is a function of objective conditions; but critically, it also depends on conscious action by the broad front of global progressive forces.
PURSUING THE VISION:
SECOND PHASE OF TRANSITION TO A NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY
197 The vision of a National Democratic Society is the lodestar that guides the ANC’s undertakings. While much progress has been made in that direction, the essence of socio-economic relations inherited from apartheid persists. It is therefore necessary to consolidate and deepen social change and move even faster to the ideal society. By 2030 and moving into the fortieth anniversary of the first democratic elections, all the main elements of a National Democratic Society should have been attained.
198 Having identified the successes and failures since the attainment of democracy, the ANC in 2012 came to the conclusion that South Africa needed to move into a new phase of transition to a National Democratic Society. This phase should be characterised by decisive action to effect thorough-going economic transformation and democratic consolidation.
199 On the whole, the balance of forces since 1994 has decisively shifted in favour of the forces of fundamental change. However, the past decade has been marked by signs of retrogression in this regard. Objective conditions such as the global economic crisis, and subjective factors reflected in the weaknesses of the ANC and the government it leads, account for this state of affairs.
200 The immediate task therefore is to place the cause of social transformation firmly on track, and to speed up the implementation of programmes of change in pursuit of shared prosperity, social justice and human solidarity.
201 In this regard, the intent of the liberation movement can be characterised as radical. This applies to content of policy measures and social outcomes as well as pace and effectiveness of implementation. This is not to suggest any intention on the part of the ANC to spring policy surprises on society in search of some magical tonic to the current malaise. Where policy adjustment is called for, it will be undertaken in consultation with relevant sectors and the public at large. At the same time, honest reviews will help clarify whether weaknesses are a result of deficient policy or of poor implementation.
202 Characterisation of these policy measures and outcomes as well as pace and effectiveness as ‘radical’ does not and should not detract from the fact that the whole project of fundamental transformation in pursuit of a National Democratic Society is a radical, revolutionary undertaking. Weaknesses in implementation, timidity or too modest a reading of the balance of forces may delay or even undermine the project; and these need to be addressed as and when they arise.
203 It is quite conceivable that a combination of well-though-out ‘ordinary’ measures, properly implemented, aligned and sequenced, can result in ‘extraordinary’ outcomes. On the other hand, attempts at ‘radical’ giant leaps, mistimed and cynically aimed at benefiting well-connected individuals and families, can plunge the project of change into murky waters of defeat.
204 The ANC embraces the National Development Plan which has the potential to unite South Africans in action to realise a united, democratic, prosperous and equitable society based on consistent equality across race and gender. Much in the NDP can be improved; but this should be informed by two considerations.
205 Firstly, the NDP is a broad platform for united action among South Africans in a social compact for fundamental change. It does not necessarily reflect the totality of the ANC’s ideals, nor those of any other political party or social sector. Secondly, appreciating that no national plan can be perfect, any necessary modifications to the NDP should be made through regular reviews based on experience in implementation, rather than in endless theoretical debates.
Constitution and governance
206 The various generations of rights enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution represent society’s contract for an improving quality of life for all. The efforts to inject these rights into the lived experiences of all citizens, should be intensified. Each centre of power, from the state to civil society should be mobilised constantly to enhance the legality and legitimacy of the polity; and each arm of government – the executive, the judiciary and the legislature – should play its role in the context of the doctrine of separation of powers
207 Parliament and the sub-national legislatures should act as tribunes of the people, laying the legislative pillars for social change, monitoring implementation, and articulating the views and aspirations of constituents.
208 The judiciary and institutions charged with promoting and protecting democracy should be strengthened and continually transformed more effectively to discharge their constitutional duties. They should be respected and supported as a necessary component of a humane society based on the rule of law. The objective and subjective reasons that have resulted in the mushrooming of referrals to these institutions of issues that could be resolved in the political and policy sphere (a form of ‘lawfare’), should be identified and resolved. Besides weaknesses in government in managing unsavoury developments, this trend also reflects attempts on the part of some privileged sectors of society to undermine the popular electoral mandate. This has the effect of sucking the judiciary into the maelstrom of day-to-day societal management and thus unnecessarily spluttering it with mud.
209 A critical objective of the constitutional dispensation is the attainment of social cohesion; and pursuit of a social compact around the National Development Plan should be understood in this context.
210 Consistent attention should be paid to the exercise of human rights by all sections of society, especially the most vulnerable. Unemployed workers and those in precarious employment, women, people with disability, youth, children and people with a different sexual orientation belong in this category. Special attention should also be paid to residents of ‘communal areas’ to ensure that they enjoy the full rights accorded in the Constitution.
Building a developmental state
211 Construction of a new society depends centrally on the leadership role of the state. Over the years, progress has been made in transforming state institutions both in terms of their orientation and their composition. However, there is a long way to go in building a capable developmental state which directs economic activity to benefit all of society, especially the poor. The ANC appreciates that a trickle-down approach to development would not bring about the desired results. Thus, combined with the classical notion of a developmental state, it emphasises the best features of social democracy.
212 The attributes of the South African developmental state we seek to build include visionary acumen in terms of long-term orientation; ideational capacity reflected in the legitimacy to lead and mobilise society behind set objectives; organisational systems that ensure that the state is able to meet its objectives; and technical capacity residing in a bureaucracy that is professional and capacitated to translate policies into practical programmes and projects.
213 Improvement in the performance of the state is a necessary condition to lift the country’s growth and development trajectory to a higher level. This would be catalytic to thorough-going economic transformation and democratic consolidation. Among others, this requires a ‘pilot agency’, a centre that directs the development and implementation of economic and other policies. Without such co-ordination and integration of policy and praxis, rapid growth and development will not be possible.
214 Special focus should be paid to the quality of cadres at political and administrative levels, from the perspective of their orientation, academic qualifications and ethical attributes. The state should be able to attract the best and the brightest in society, as part of their career- paths. Professionalism in the bureaucracy and stability especially in the management echelons are critical. Systems of recruitment and delegation of responsibilities should limit undue interference in the professional functioning of public servants.
215 The state exercises leadership to economic activities through various mechanisms, and it should deftly wield these instruments. State- owned enterprises, including development finance institutions, should be leveraged strategically to direct economic development. The same applies to the state as a regulator and a procurer of goods and services. The extent of state ownership, beyond provision of public goods, will be dictated to by the balance of evidence in relation to job- creation, facilitation of investments and other social imperatives.
216 For it to exercise leadership, the state should be networked among all sectors of society and strive clearly to understand their interests and aspirations. Such embeddedness should be exercised mindful of the fact that the state is a contested terrain, with all classes and strata seeking to influence its decisions and actions. The state should therefore strive always to act autonomously of vested interests in policy development and implementation, informed by the imperatives of fundamental social change. Further, while in principle it seeks to facilitate societal consensus, the democratic state should be able to take a firm stand in the national interest, where such agreement cannot be reached.
217 It stands to reason that, to play this role, the state should conduct itself ethically, both at the political and bureaucratic levels. It is therefore fundamental continually to ingrain and institutionalise transparency, accountability, integrity and responsiveness in the state machinery. Corruption and attempts at capturing state institutions to serve the interests of individuals and families should be combatted, both to ensure that the state meets its obligations and to maintain popular confidence in the polity at large.
218 The approach of the ANC to the economy is informed by the understanding that economic activity is not for its own sake. The economy is not a mysterious system, existing outside of society. It is meant to serve society, rather than the other way round. Therefore, at the core of economic policy should be the fundamental question of political economy: that is, the distribution of income and assets. It is in this context that the inescapable reality of white and patriarchal dominance in the economy has to be addressed.
219 Transformation should straddle all elements of economic activity. Central in this regard should be the efforts to change the structure of the South African economy, in terms of balance among the various sectors, while ensuring consistent and sustained growth. There must be conscious efforts to move out of the path dependency, reflected in the minerals-energy complex and the destruction of manufacturing capacity.
220 This should be pursued through infrastructure programmes; exploitation of comparative and competitive advantages in various sectors such as the mining value chain, manufacturing of infrastructure supplies and consumer goods; as well as agriculture and agro-processing. Sub- sectors in which the country has developed expertise, and from which individuals, firms, industries and regions have gained much ‘learning’, should receive emphasis. This applies also to green technologies and transition to a low-carbon economy, as a contribution to the protection of the environment and as an activity with major economic benefits. As a water-stressed country, South Africa is also called upon to develop technologies, adopt farming methods and embrace lifestyle changes that recognise this reality.
221 Account should also be taken of the incipient changes in production processes arising from the so-called fourth industrial revolution. In this regard, research and development should receive requisite support. However, the country should also exploit niches in low-end manufacturing, taking into account the character of South Africa’s labour market.
222 Changing the structure of the economy should include support for small and micro- enterprises; with regulations, incentives and other interventions that accord with the actual needs of these entrepreneurs. This should also apply to the so-called social market economy, including co-operatives and social activities in poor communities.
223 Leadership to economic development should be characterised by pro-poor growth and pro-growth poverty reduction. On the one hand, a sizeable part of state incentives should be directed at providing jobs to workers structurally excluded from economic activity. On the other hand, where economic realities dictate adoption of projects that may disadvantage the poor, there should be effective programmes to alleviate their conditions.
224 Changing the patterns of ownership forms a critical part of economic transformation. The objective in this regard is to attain truly post- colonial social relations characterised by de- racialisation and gender equality. This should be directed at benefiting real and aspirant black entrepreneurs; but also, employees through such mechanisms as Employee Share Ownership Programmes (ESOPs) and profit-sharing, as well as communities in which enterprises are located. In other words, de-racialisation and pursuit of gender equality should not be an elite project with little effect on social inequality.
225 Distribution of land and its productive utilisation necessarily feature prominently in the programme of economic transformation. Avariety of measures can massively change agricultural production and absorb the unemployed in the rural areas, as part of an agrarian transformation strategy: for instance, expansion of irrigated agricultural land; promotion of commercial production; identification of, and requisite assistance to, sectors and regions with high potential; and programmes to ensure access to product value chains by big and small producers alike. These efforts should include creative utilisation of land in so-called ‘communal’ areas. Land redistribution and restitution will be speeded up; and land use management will be approached in a more systematic manner.
226 While these efforts would go a long way in tackling inequality, additional and directed measures should be adopted for this purpose. These include a reasonable minimum wage, an income policy that addresses income differentials, and spatial economic and settlement patterns that eliminate the ‘apartheid tax’ on poor commuters.
227 There should also be deliberate measures to tackle uncompetitive practices, which result in perverse high mark-ups in South Africa’s product markets and other forms of economic rents. This would facilitate entry into various sectors, enhance competition, extend the buying power of the working people; and in turn stimulate production.
228 For the South African economy to escape its current low trend-growth, there should be higher rates of investment by both the public and private sectors. State-owned enterprises, including development finance institutions, should have requisite expertise, an orientation towards the commons and appropriate governance and ethics. Besides incentives, a variety of creative means should be utilised to direct and cajole the private sector to invest in job-creating activities and expand access to financial services. Pension funds and trade union investments, and other such resources, should be managed both in the interest of the employees and the broader imperatives of development.
229 Macroeconomic balances relating to public debt, cost of borrowing, inflation, savings and so on, should be pursued as a matter of principle, in the service of the real economy. Better fiscal balances create space to utilise the government budget for economic and social imperatives. Lower interest rates benefit entrepreneurs and consumers alike. Lower inflation rates create space for people’s incomes to stretch that much further. Higher savings release resources for higher rates of investments, and help safeguard the country’s economic sovereignty.
230 Working in partnership with labour and business, the state will promote stable labour relations, underpinned by civilised treatment of employees, pursuit of decent work, responsible management of disputes, and improvement of the systems that govern the labour market.
231 Critical in this phase is also the need fully to take advantage of the demographic dividend, so South African society can harvest this unique but temporary phenomenon when the labour force is expanding faster than those dependent on it. Inversely, a failure to seize this moment can result in a wasted macrosocial opportunity and increased social instability. As such, programmes directed at creating opportunities for the youth and ensuring their active involvement in all areas of social endeavour should receive focussed attention.
232 Economic transformation also implies diversification of South Africa’s international partnerships, with the African continent enjoying special emphasis.
Meeting social needs
233 In addition to issues related to income and cost of living, social policy is fundamental to ensuring that all South Africans enjoy a decent standard of living. The core approach in this regard is to improve human capabilities and ensure equal opportunities for all.
234 Improvement of the education system is fundamental to this. The ANC government will dedicate requisite resources, both human and financial, to ensure that the right to education is enjoyed by all. This applies to infrastructure, the number and quality of educators, monitoring and evaluation systems and ongoing efforts to ensure community involvement in the governance of schools and safeguarding of educational resources.
235 Special attention will be paid to post-school education, combining improvements in curricula with allocation of resources for tuition and infrastructure. The principle that no student would be denied access to higher education due to their social circumstances, will be implemented. Emphasis will also be placed on technical and vocational training, to reverse the decline in artisanship and provide skills and opportunities greatly needed in the economy. All this, including career guidance and programmes to bridge the gap between school and work, will be undertaken in partnership with the private and other sectors of society. The transformation of education curricula across all levels should be aimed at ensuring relevance to changing technological realities and to cultivate socially-conscious citizens of a post-colonial society.
236 Recognising the gap that currently exists between the right of access to health services and the quality of care, the comprehensive initiatives to improve the system will be intensified. These range from the phasing in of national health insurance to improvement of services and popular confidence in primary health institutions. The objective of all these interventions is to reduce unnatural causes of mortality, enhance life expectancy and improve the quality of life. The targeted campaigns against communicable and non-communicable diseases, including HIV and AIDS, TB, pneumonia, diabetes, strokes and heart diseases, will be intensified. Road accidents and violent crimes, which account for a large proportion of deaths will continue to receive focussed attention. Renewed attention will be paid to the issue of mental health in broader society and in patient care.
237 A preventative approach to health will be prioritised, including the campaign against poverty. Particular focus in this regard will be not only on the extent of access, but also the quality of water and electricity supply, sanitation, subsidised housing, refuse removal and other such services. The anti-poverty programmes will also encompass public employment programmes, social grants, welfare services, nutrition programmes and targeted interventions in families to catalyse their extraction from abject poverty.
238 A decent quality of life requires an overarching, comprehensive social security system which will be introduced over the coming decade. At the same time, the perennial challenge of spatial economic and settlement patterns will need to be tackled head-on.
239 While the elimination of poverty is in and of itself a core objective, this should be combined with deliberate programmes to reduce inequality in terms of income, assets, opportunity and social networks. Reducing inequality is fundamental to improving social cohesion, and to the sustenance of economic growth. As such, it is beneficial to both the rich and the poor.
Promoting social cohesion and a new value system
240 Social cohesion depends in large measure on progress in dealing with socio-economic marginalisation. However, it is also a function of a shared vision and co-operation in its pursuit. The identity of being South African, democracy and the macrosocial ideals enshrined in the Constitution are a critical starting point in this regard. In the recent period, this has also found expression in widespread support for the objectives of the National Development Plan.
241 Joint and varied actions to attain Vision 2030 should be encouraged. A social compact should be forged between the state, business, workers and other social partners. Each of these partners should commit to specific contributions and even sacrifices to attain the common objective. In other words, while attainment of social equity is critical for social cohesion, a minimum level of social cohesion is necessary to pursue social equity.
242 Social cohesion also depends on the networks available to individuals to pursue their dreams. While the usefulness of such networks is inseparable from social status, much can be done to enhance the systems of social solidarity. Attention should also be paid to strengthening the family unit and promoting active citizenship.
243 There has been much progress in promoting a common South African identity; but much more needs to be done. The democratic government proceeds from the understanding that such an identity does not entail reducing South Africa into a melting pot of undifferentiated beings.
244 Multiple identities based on language, geography, customs, gender, sexual orientation, religion, sport and cultural preferences – and much more – are a normal part of social existence. They should be acknowledged, without subtracting from the overarching national identity. Indeed, against the backdrop of the stoking of religious and other conflicts in many parts of the world, South Africans should treasure and safeguard the unity in diversity which we enjoy. This should include a conscious and deliberate campaign against any manifestations of racism, ‘tribalism’, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and other intolerances.
245 The social system we have inherited is founded on cut-throat competition and the dictum, ‘everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost’. This stands in stark contrast to the value system enshrined in the Constitution about social solidarity and empathy especially for the most vulnerable. These values should be promoted across society.
246 Related to this is the need for the privileged to interrogate the meaning and symbolism of conspicuous consumption and arrogant ostentation, in the midst of massive social inequality. In principle, there is nothing wrong in enjoying the rewards of an honest day’s work. But, when privilege is combined with resistance to reasonable redistributive measures, with a sense of entitlement to historical privilege and with unethical conduct in both the public and private sectors, it ignites social dissonance. The very principle of what ‘success’ means and how ‘merit’ is attained is turned on its head, to justify social relations that can only perpetuate social inequality.
247 The campaign around social values has to be waged across all platforms, including print and electronic media, education curricula and religious institutions. In each of these platforms, social humanism and crass materialism do daily battle; and deliberate efforts are needed to change social paradigms. In the recent period, the mushrooming of unmediated social media platforms has created the possibility to deepen popular democracy. Yet along with this, fake news and unproven conspiracy theories, deliberately orchestrated to misinform and to mislead, have increased in intensity.
248 As a matter of principle, the efforts to forge social cohesion should be informed by the principle that South Africans together, in partnership with rest of the continent, need to contribute in fashioning a new global civilisation founded on an abiding humanity.
Safety and security
249 The safety and security of citizens is a human right that society needs to pursue as a united force. This requires continuing improvement in the capacity of the state. Critically, for state agencies to meet their objectives, they should enjoy popular legitimacy which, in turn, would ensure that they command a sense of authority among the broader public.
250 The ANC proceeds from the premise that addressing the challenges of crime largely depends on reducing poverty and inequality. Besides shared economic growth, measures to improve people’s living conditions, including public infrastructure
– from public amenities to transport and lighting
– are of critical importance in dealing with crime. This should be combined with civic education and firm action to demonstrate that there are consequences to criminal conduct.
251 This comprehensive approach should apply equally to gender-based crimes as well as crimes directed against children and other vulnerable groups in society.
252 The programmes to demilitarise the police service will be intensified, along with campaigns to strengthen forums of co-operation between the service and communities. This will be accompanied by focussed initiatives to improve the capacity of intelligence agencies, combining technical enhancements with improved credibility of these agencies among the people.
253 An important and indispensable link in the ‘criminal justice’ chain is the prosecution authority. Charged with representing the people and the state against those who violate the law, it wields massive authority and attendant responsibility. As with the intelligence agencies, priority attention should be paid to its capacity to deal with all manifestations of crime, as well as its integrity and credibility. This requires that it carries out its work consistently without fear, favour or prejudice.
254 The battle against corruption will be intensified, proceeding from the understanding that corrupt conduct in both the public and private sectors is criminal. Besides its legal and technical implications, corruption is also socially degenerative because it subtracts from the efforts to improve conditions of the poor and to transform society. Besides preventative measures such as civic education and centralisation of major procurement processes, steps will be taken, among others, to improve the capacity of anti-corruption agencies and institutions of accountability such as the Auditor- General and the Public Protector, enhance protection of whistle-blowers, ensure individual liability, and shine light on corrupt activities within the private sector through appropriate reporting mechanisms. This should include a more concerted approach in dealing with economic crimes, including illicit financial flows as well as illegal base erosion and profit-shifting.
255 Transformation of the judiciary will be intensified, in terms of content of judicial education in tertiary and specialised institutions and demographic composition of the judicial officer corps.
256 Programmes to enhance the capacity of the national defence force will continue, through appropriate equipment, training and co-operation with allied forces in the region and further afield. This will take into account the rapid development of technology
257 South Africa will continue to contribute to global efforts against terrorism. This it will do appreciating that, as with crime in general, success depends critically on dealing with the social and other causes of this phenomenon.
258 This then is the ANC’s reading of the domestic and global environment, the progress we have made in moving towards a National Democratic Society, and the tasks facing South Africans in general and the ANC in particular, as we move towards our ideals. Both the theoretical underpinning to this articulation, and the distilling of practical experience, form the basis of the ANC’s approach to the transformation of South African society. Above everything else, what infuses this approach is a fundamental social humanism about the quality of life of the people of South Africa, Africa and the world.
259 Having captured the beach-head of political power, the forces of liberation have sought over two decades to bring to life the ideals that inspired generations in the fight against colonialism. Much has changed. But fundamental elements of social relations inherited from the past continue to stare us in the face.
260 The marginalised are less and less prepared to bear the agony. At the same time, more and more of the privileged do seem to appreciate that their interests are closely linked to those of society as a whole. This confluence of circumstances presents a unique opportunity to forge a social compact to move the nation to greater social heights. The current phase of transition demands decisiveness, speed and a dogged determination. The successes and the failures call for optimal societal leadership and an active citizenry.
261 To build on the foundation laid since the attainment of democracy, the following pillars of social transformation inform the framework of the ANC’s focus:
- the state,
- the economy,
- organisational work,
- ideological struggle, and
- international work.
262 Both in South Africa and abroad, opportunities and dangers intermingle in complex combination. Social agency, inspired by idealism and skilful organisation, is the key to unlock movement to higher forms of human civilisation. The ANC commits to renew itself and contribute even more decisively to this endeavour. Its confidence in this regard derives from the appreciation that most South Africans aspire to a humane society; and are prepared to act in its realisation.