ANC Central Number
Click to join the ANC
African National Congress




Tasks of the NDR and the Mobilisation of the Motive Forces


From its inception, the ANC has been involved in struggle to end the system of white minority domination and to create a democratic and non-racial society. Through the 88 years from its foundation in 1912 to the elections in 1994, the ANC and other formations of the movement for national liberation have pursued this strategic objective by whatever means were necessary and possible.

During the course of these years, the national liberation movement scored tactical victories and suffered temporary tactical defeats. It won and lost many battles, but never lost the war. The conduct of struggle to win the individual battles and the war, and to avoid tactical defeats, however temporary these might be, constitutes an important, complex and indelible part of the making of South Africa.

The liberation of South Africa was both a local expression of a changing world and part of the catalyst to renewed efforts aimed at attaining international consensus on the most urgent questions facing humanity. Our transition took place in the context of a dynamic and changing political process with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the socialist community of states on the one hand and the social and economic realities of globalisation, on the other hand.

We therefore described the victory of 1994 as "a historic breakthrough and a decisive departure from a colonial system that spanned over three decades. We accomplished a qualitative element of the National Democratic Revolution." We use the words `element of the NDR` guardedly, because the balance of forces at the time dictated that the path to the full transfer of power would be protracted and tortuous. Strategy and Tactics (1997)

Any revolution is defined in terms of its character and its motive forces. The purpose of this discussion paper is therefore to engage and discuss the current tasks of the NDR (Section A); to examine the Motive forces (Section B) and the forces opposed to transformation (Section C).

The Strategic objective of the National Democratic Revolution

Our Strategy and Tactics as adopted at the 50th Conference in Mafikeng (1997) elaborates on the character of the NDR, stating that

"the strategic objective of the NDR is the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.
This, in essence, means the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female."

Arising from this characterisation of the present phase of the NDR, what then are the strategic tasks facing the ANC as the leader of the process of transformation?

The 1994 elections and the installation of a democratic government marked a strategic shift, which meant that the democratic movement had to then decide on the new strategic goals and the tactical and the operational tasks to meet these goals.



In order to guide and direct this necessary transition from the old to the new, the liberation movement, led by the ANC in society and represented in parliament and government as the leading force for change, must clearly identify the immediate and longer term objectives of the NDR that encompasses the overall perspective of our movement, namely the all-round emancipation of the black oppressed, especially the African majority.

Strategic task 1:

The progressive replacement of the apartheid state by a democratic state This gradual approach is dictated by the fact that the people effected the transition to democracy through negotiations, rather than as a consequence of a revolutionary seizure of power.

Political revolutions are about the capture of state power, and the use of that power to advance the purposes of the revolutionary forces. The democratic forces must understand that the old state is incapable of transforming itself. It can neither be the instrument of its own abolition or fundamental transformation, nor can this process occur spontaneously.

This task must be carried out consciously by the victorious revolutionary forces. Any revolutionary movement that does not understand and act on this is condemned to fail in its objectives and will end up being corrupted by and absorbed into the system it sought to overthrow.

The democratic state must therefore consists of the following elements: a constitutional framework defining the nature, purpose and parametres of governance; elected national, provincial and local legislatures with representatives drawn from competing political parties; executive bodies (`governments`) drawn from these legislatures, state departments, security organs (police, defence, prisons, intelligence), the judicial system; state corporations; regulatory bodies and other permanent or temporary statutory bodies.

In order to fundamentally transform the state and the socio-economic organisation of society, the democratic forces must effect structural changes of the state machinery; personnel changes affecting the civil service and transform the political and ideological orientation of the individuals and institutions that make up the machinery of the state.

Strategic task 2:

The commitment of the democratic state to reconstruction and development One of the defining characteristics of the democratic state is that it has a responsibility to work for the all-round emancipation of those sections amongst the people the majority the rural and urban poor, the working people, women, the youth, the disabled who were the objects of oppression and exploitation under the colonial and apartheid system.

It must champion the cause of these masses in such a way that the basic aspirations of this majority, for human dignity and a better life, assume the status of a hegemony which informs and guides the policies and practise of all the institutions of government and state.

However, the democratic state also has a responsibility to attend to the concerns of the rest of the population who are not part of the majority we have spoken of. Inevitably, the democratic state will, in its composition, functioning and objectives, be characterised in part by the interaction of the contradictions contained in both the national and class questions.

The democratic state therefore represents neither the dictatorship of the proletariat, nor the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The democratic state will be guided by the hegemony of the aspirations of the poor and the disadvantaged.

Strategic task 3:

A better life for all

The democratic forces must speed up the programme to improve the quality of life of the people. The fight against poverty requires a co-ordinated strategy that cuts across all sectors and pays particular attention to rural and disadvantaged areas.

We must ensure that all government programmes are co-ordinated towards this objective especially in areas such as housing, social security, transport, health care, education, water and electricity, rural and youth development and rolling out telecommunications infrastructure and postal services. We should ensure that these programmes reach the most disadvantaged sections of our population, including women, the youth, workers, rural people, the unemployed, children, the aged, and the disabled, in the process mobilising these and other social strata such as the communities of faith, traditional leaders and professionals.

Strategic task 4:

The mobilisation of the masses of the people to govern themselves in the context of the objective that "the people shall govern"

The democratic project must enable us to activate our people to become their own governors. This point to the importance of voluntary and popular organisations, including political parties, trade unions, community based and other non-governmental organisations, in the system of governance we are creating.

The democratic forces and the state therefore have a responsibility to ensure that this independent and representative non-governmental sector has the necessary strength to play its role in ensuring that people themselves, and in their own interest, become conscious activists for development and social transformation.

The empowerment of the people to participate in the process of governance, expressed in the concepts of a people-centred society and people-driven processes of transformation, indicates the centrality of the concept of popular and participatory democracy to our understanding of the functioning of the democratic state. We should therefore leave no stone unturned to mobilise our people to participate in the fight against major problems confronting them such as crime through their Community Policing Forums, the HIV/AIDS pandemic through their Community Health Committees or to transform education through their School Governing Bodies.

Strategic task 5:

Social partnership for development and transformation

The democratic state is developmental and transformative in character. It is for this reason that we must fight against the liberal concept of `less government` which, while presented as a philosophical approach towards the state in general, is in fact aimed specifically at the weakening of the democratic state.

The purpose of this liberal offensive is to deny the people the possibility to use the collective strength and means concentrated in the democratic state to bring about the transformation of the South African society.

The effect of such weakening would be to enhance the strength and impact of other centres of power in our society, with the resultant disempowerment of the people.

Strategic task 6:

Economic transformation

State and Private Capital:
The centrepiece of the ANC`s programme for the economy is the pursuit of growth and development. We need to increase the wealth base of the country by producing more goods and services in the same measure as we improve the quality of life of especially the poor, and effect, in a variety of ways, the redistribution of wealth and income in favour of those previously excluded from the economic mainstream.

These objectives would be impossible to realise without a similarly continuous process of increasing productive investment in the economy, in both absolute and relative terms. The historic and objective reality at this stage of human development is that vast amounts of capital, as investible wealth, is in private hands, both domestically and internationally.

Consequently, a central task of the democratic forces is the mobilisation of the `surplus` of domestic and international capital to invest in our country.

The democratic forces must therefore establish a dialectical relationship with private capital as a social partner for development and social progress. This relationship will include co-operation, strategic leadership and varying measures of necessary interventions and regulation by the democratic state, in the interest of its developmental objectives.

The importance of capital (under the control of both the state and the private sector) in social development derives from the fact that investment is decisive to the creation of wealth or the material conditions which makes it possible to improve the conditions of life of our people. To talk about new factories, infrastructure development, new technologies, housing development, new clines and recreational facilities, books and job creation, is ultimately to talk about new investment.

The state and unions:
We have to assert again that the central task of the democratic state is to address the interests of that section of our population, who were the oppressed and super exploited during the epoch of colonialism and apartheid.

Labour, like capital, stands at the centre of the creation of wealth or the material conditions which make it possible to improve the conditions of life of the people as a whole.

This means that the working class, the democratic state and capital constitute the proverbial triangle necessary for the development and transformation of our society.

The democratic state must focus on changing the conditions of this section of our working people, for the better, including abolishing racial and gender disparities as a necessary condition for the building of a non-racial and non-sexist society and a logical expression of the character of the democratic state as a state of the people as a whole.

We recognise that the relationship between the democratic state and labour is structurally different from that of capital. The trade unions are independent and they have to represent their members. Differences and tensions do emerge, but the progressive trade unions have been located within the forces that fight for democratic change.

What this means is that this progressive trade union movement has to take its place among the forces within the democratic state which through policy formulation and the implementation of that policy, engage in the discharge of the developmental and transformative task of the democratic state, in the interest of the people of the whole.

Black economic empowerment:
The democratic forces should also pursue the objective of black economic empowerment. This should be done in pursuit of the objective of the deracialisation of our society, while also impacting on the growth of capital in general, the multiplication of the forces loyal to national democracy and in the context of the developmental role of capital in general.

For its part, and as a fundamental condition of its developmental and transformative role, the democratic state has an objective interest in ensuring that a `black bourgeoisie` does not grow because of:-

  • Theft of public resources, emerging as a `bureaucratic bourgeoisie;
  • A similar process carried out by domestic white capital, resulting in the formation of a `rented bourgeoisie` also known as `fronts`.

Without the open intervention of the democratic state, it is inevitable that these processes of the birth of a black bourgeoisie would occur, with a fatal impact on the building of a democracy representative of the people as a whole.

Rather, it should pursue policies which aim at maximising the number of South African black communities and nationals who can share in the economy and, while improving their own material conditions, gain capacity to help determine the direction, pace and depth of our economic transformation.

State corporations:
The democratic state also has the capacity to make an important impact on the economy through capital in its own hands, as represented by the state corporations and the Budget.

It is because of the existence of both private and state corporation in our economy, that we speak of a `mixed economy`. The main features of the democratic state as an agent for development and transformation, inform our approach to what we have to do with the state corporations.

We must therefore guard against attempts by the right to `wither away` the democratic state, which attempts to reduce its capacity to intervene in the economy. The parastatal capital resources in the public domain are, potentially, a major strategic asset, enabling the democratic state to give leadership and catalyse major reconstruction, development and growth, attracting in the process private investment as well.

It is this strategic potential that is critical, and not the accumulation, for its own sake, of public-owned assets. It is also from this strategic perspective that the question of restructuring state assets, which might involve strategic partnerships, partial and even total privatisation should be evaluated.

We reject, however, the ideological notion that privatisation is, by definition, the only sensible route. As with nationalisation, we must be guided by the processes as instruments to be used to achieve our reconstruction and developmental objectives.

The national budget:
Another instrument in the hands of the democratic state whose use also impacts on the economy is the national budget. Given its developmental nature, the democratic state must of necessity concern itself about the impact that its budget policies may have on the possibilities to build capacity to create new wealth and to improve material conditions of all the citizens of our country.

It would therefore seek to achieve the right balance between consumption and investment in its own expenditure patterns and work towards reducing the public debt and take care in its management of the budget deficit.

Strategic task 7:

The progress of the region of Southern Africa

To defeat under-development in our own country, we have to participate in the process to ensure its defeat in Southern Africa as a whole. The `elemental and spontaneous` process of the collapse of the colonial imposed national boundaries within our region has to be replaced by a conscious and inclusive process of constructing equal and mutually beneficial relations among the countries of Southern Africa.

The major task is to build a common economic market which would ensure balanced economic development in the region as a whole and to consciously and constructively impact on the movement of people, goods and capital already taking place.

It would also create the best conditions for sustained regional development based on the faster reproduction of capital, the acceleration of the process of attraction of foreign capital into the region, the growth of trade and the strengthening of the bargaining position of the countries of the region in the ordering of international economic and other relations.

Strategic task 8:

The African Renaissance

The African renaissance, for us, is both a strategic objective and a call to action. It must be underpinned by the mobilisation of the people of Africa to take their destiny into their own hands: in the definition and consolidation of democratic systems of government in which the people play an active role, in attaining rapid economic growth that is based on meeting the basic needs of the people, in widening and deepening the scope of economic, political and social integration on the continent, and in joint efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts within and among African nations.

Africa`s rebirth requires that leaders and governments recognise, and indeed act to bring to the fore, the centrality of individual citizens and communities - workers, peasants, professionals, the entrepreneurial class and others - in shaping the future of the continent. In particular, it also requires that the character, content and programmes of the renaissance be infused with a gender-sensitive perspective.

The creativity and enterprise of all these classes and strata must be promoted, and their intellectual and scientific capacity must be given free reign. Their ability to understand the wrongs of the colonial past, but indeed, to also acknowledge and correct weaknesses in the present and in themselves, should be nurtured.

Africa`s renaissance should consolidate her collective sovereignty, both in the fight to change the current maldistribution of international resources and power, and in the efforts of Africans themselves to improve the continent`s standing in world affairs. Critical in the campaign to realise this renaissance is the Organisation of African Unity and other continental and regional associations, which must be strengthened to meet the challenges of the new age.

Strategic task 9:

The unity of the poor of the world, for peace, democracy and progress South/South co-operation

Our efforts on the continent form part of the drive of countries of the South to improve relations among themselves in the process of shaping a new world order. Bilateral relations, co-operation among the various regional blocs, and the emergence of new ones across oceans are a prerequisite to a just and equitable system of international relations.

Among these countries are the least developed which require special assistance from across the globe. But among them too, are countries, which have a vast pool of investment resources, advanced financial systems and a wealth of experience in tackling the tasks of economic growth and development.

Indeed, if pursued with the seriousness and urgency it deserves, co-operation among countries of the South will ensure that the new world order is based not merely on the existing economic and political power of the current advanced industrial countries.

This needs to be complemented by creative bilateral and multilateral engagement with the developed countries to help ensure that their approach to world affairs benefits humanity as a whole.

The same applies to the challenge of restructuring multilateral institutions; primary among which are the United Nations Organisation and its agencies, both to reflect the intention to create a new system of international relations and to regulate the process towards such a system. This is not merely a matter of formality, but it issues from the understanding that these bodies are being called upon to play a greater role in regulating the process of globalisation, and the emergence of a new world order.

The leadership role of these organisations must be strengthened, in a process that should see to the pooling of sovereignty among all nations, rather than domination by those who possess international political, military and economic power.



Having articulated the strategic tasks of the present phase of our National Democratic revolution, the democratic forces are then called upon to identify and engage the motive forces that can be mobilised towards the achievement of these goals.

We have stated that the main content of our national democratic revolution is the national liberation of the oppressed and most exploited the African majority and blacks in general, democratic whites and in class terms include the unemployed and landless rural masses; unskilled and semi skilled workers; professionals, entrepreneurs and small business operators. We have also talked about the triple oppression of black women, and the fact that the majority of the poor are African women, especially in the rural areas.

The election results of both 1994 and 1999 and the strategic tasks of the NDR that we outlined indicate that these remain the motive forces, which stand to gain most from the accelerated process of transformation and change.

A. The Working Class

South African capitalism gave birth to a collective of black workers, whose class position and social existence meant that it bore the brunt of apartheid oppression and super-exploitation and placed it at the head of the struggle for freedom.

They therefore continue to be faced by this legacy, expressed by such indicators as the continued gross racial disparities in wages, incomes and skills, continuing racism in the workplace, racial disparities in living conditions, unemployment, etc. The black working class therefore stands to gain most from the success of transformation, led by the ANC.

COSATU in its 1999 elections call to workers therefore said:

`Only the ANC has the interest of workers and the poor at heart, has a vision to continue changing our country away from the apartheid legacy, has fought in the face of hard opposition in parliament, for the advancement and protection of workers rights and has an unquestionable track record of being a reliable ally of workers since its inception in 1912.`

It lists the gains made by workers since 1994: the first time workers enjoy constitutional guarantees such as the right to fair labour practices; to form and join trade unions, strike and picket; to conclude union security agreements such as closed and agency shop and to collective bargaining.

Workers through their trade unions (led by COSATU) have during this period using this new environment been taking forward the struggle at the work place and in their sectors around issues of the immediate such as improvements in conditions at work, including its deracialisation.

It has (with other trade union federations) made inputs into the policy process as co-ordinated by NEDLAC, through its parliamentary office engaged with legislation and policies in Parliament and through various affiliates engaged specific line function ministries around transformation and restructuring of different sectors, including the parastatals.

Changes in production, restructuring of the economy, the integration of South Africa into the global economy, has led to gradual fragmentation in the labour market, the shrinking of sectors such as mining and agriculture and the expansion of other sectors, such as the service sectors.

These factors have resulted in wide-ranging restructuring of the working class over the past decade, which requires new and innovative strategies and tactics from COSATU, the ANC and the SACP.

The organised sections of the public sector workforce, who had been part of the struggle to bring the democratic order into being, have the responsibility to provide leadership to the rest of the public service, to uphold the norms of efficiency and high levels of productivity, of discipline and managerial responsibility, accountability and responsiveness to the public interests.

It is in the interest of the democratic forces, that we have a trade union movement that mobilise workers around their immediate interests as well as pursue the broad objectives of transformation in the interest of society as a whole.

B. The Unemployed

The super-exploitation of South Africa`s working class has been reinforced over the decades by influx controls, which regulate cheap labour and relied on a large army of unemployed.

As a result of this policy and the stagnation in the apartheid economy towards the end of the 70`s, the democratic government inherited the problem of large scale and increasingly structural unemployment.

The democratic forces therefore have a responsibility to mobilise the unemployed behind its programmes to accelerate transformation that will result in economic and job growth. We therefore said in our 1999 Elections Manifesto that "we realise that much more must be done. A major national offensive should be launched against the scourge of unemployment, poverty and inequality to achieve our objective of sustainable jobs for all at a living wage. An important key to unlocking the job crisis lies in implementing the resolutions of the Presidential Job summit."

C. The Rural masses

The legacy of apartheid has left skewed land ownership and usage, land hunger, lack of infrastructure and deliberate underdevelopment of our rural areas. The democratic forces need to ensure a programme of integrated rural development, land and agrarian reform, that address these issues, including land redistribution and infrastructural development that facilitate the creation of sustainable rural and farming communities and economies.

The mobilisation of the rural masses, should aim at empowering them in the struggle for better and more secure working and living conditions for farmworkers, who continue to suffer from the worst forms of racial abuse and violations.

As part of our drive to improve of the quality of life in rural areas, we must engage and mobilise traditional leaders to participate in the programs to develop their communities and the broader transformation of our society.

We acknowledge that the majority of the poor are African women in rural areas, and the mobilisation and empowerment of this sector should be a central thrust of our integrated rural development programme.

D. Women

"The African National Congress`s commitment to eliminate racism, oppression and exploitation from our society cannot fail to address also the question of the emancipation of women. The experience of other societies has shown that the emancipation of women is not a by-product of a struggle for democracy, national liberation or socialism. It has to be addressed in its own right within our organisation, the mass democratic movement and in the society as a whole. The majority of South African women, who are black, are the most oppressed section of our people, suffering under a triple yoke of oppression. The liberation of women is central to our people`s struggle for freedom." Statement of the NEC on the Emanicipation of Women in South Africa, 2 May 1990.

The democratic forces have led efforts aimed at eradicating oppressive gender relations by: entrenching the constitutional guarantee of the equality of women, abolishing legislation and policies that discriminate against women; the establishment of a national gender machinery in government and the introduction of policies and programmes targeting women and aimed at empowerment and poverty alleviation. We have tried in the ranks of the movement to entrench gender awareness and practises.

Women are therefore amongst the forces in our society that stand to benefit most from the success of the NDR. Women are organised into a myriad of community-based structures, sectoral formations, women`s organisations, in the political movements, gender advocacy groups, and issue based networks. However, this has not yet found expression in a national women`s movement for transformation and gender equality, despite various efforts by the ANC Women`s League and gender structures of the Alliance.

The challenges and issues facing us therefore include: to mainstream gender as part of the overall transformation project; continual assessment of the impact of our policies on gender relations and the position of women, especially poor women; building of a broad women`s movement; the mobilisation and education of men and women to transform the ideological and cultural basis of patriarchy; engaging the issues of socialisation in the family, schools, religious institutions, communities; the media, etc.

E. The Middle class

The black middle class `squashed between the rock of poverty and the glass ceiling of job reservation` had much to gain from the struggle for national liberation and constituted an important part of the motive forces. By virtue of its social position, it is a class whose allegiance can be swayed either way and thus could not be taken for granted. It is therefore not surprising that Apartheid, in its efforts to reform and maintain itself, at various stages sought to co-opt this middle class through the bantustan system, the tricameral parliament, etc. Big business too has worked for the creation of a black middle class as a `buffer` between it and the struggles and aspirations of the working class.

The election results of 1994 and 1999 showed the effectiveness of our mobilisation of this section of the motive forces, with the ANC emerging as the majority party, not only amongst the African middle class, but also of significant sections of the Coloured and Indian middle strata and a small section of the white middle strata.

The middle strata in South Africa which include professionals, the managerial corps, the intelligentsia, public servants (teachers, nurses, etc), small business operators and entrepreneurs reflects the racial inequalities of the past and have therefore benefited most from the policies of affirmative action, the opening up of opportunities previously closed (in the public and private sectors) and improved access to higher education and training.

Challenges and issues facing the movement with regards this sector therefore include its activisation by engaging it in the planning and implementing of programmes for reconstruction and development programme.

We should also seek to increase the size of the middle strata through:

  • programmes for the training and appropriate deployment of members of this strata;
  • continuously reducing the race and gender imbalances within this sector;
  • ensuring its increased social contribution through improvements in its efficiency and effectiveness within each field of expertise;
  • drawing especially the African middle strata into appropriate governmental institutions, in keeping with its expertise;
  • using instruments such as the Employment Equity Act, affirmative action and increased access to higher education; and
  • addressing the formal and informal impediments of this stratum to capital, including lending policies of the banking sector, etc.

We must ensure the ongoing mobilisation of this sector so that it continues to see its interest linked to that of the national democratic movement, by organising them into the ANC and by engaging with the organised formations in the sector.

This will also include the mobilisation of the middle strata in the public service behind the programmes of Batho Pele and as a patriotic (and revolutionary?) cadre in addressing such national priorities as making our schools and education system work, safety and security for all citizens, access to health, etc.

We must continue to engage the white middle strata and convince them that the deracialisation of our society and the building of a better life for all, are worthwhile goals to work for.

F. Black business/capitalists

Black and African people in particular were deliberately restricted from access and ownership of all the factors of production (land, capital, labour, entrepreneurship), through measurers such as the Land Acts (1913 and 1926), the Group Areas Act, racial prohibitions on capital and markets and until the late 70`s black people were restricted to a limited number of commercial activities.

The capacity for accumulation by the black middle strata and petty bourgeoisie were further inhibited by the denial of access to higher education in a range of sectors, racial prohibitions to entry into the professions and the apartheid wage gap. Ownership and control of the South Africa`s economy were therefore nearly exclusively in white hands.

We have seen since the early 90`s and accelerating after 1994, the growth of a small and expanding black business and capitalist class through some unbundling initiatives by white business, through the democratic state`s policies and programmes such as affirmative procurement, licensing agreements, deregulation, restructuring of state assets and through the emergence of union investment companies.

The democratic forces must mobilise this emerging black business class, to ensure that it remains patriotic and see its strengthening linked closely to the broader national democratic revolution. It should therefore consciously pursue policies which aim at maximising the number of South African black communities and nationals who can share in the economy and, while improving their own material conditions, gain capacity to help determine the direction, pace and depth of our economic transformation.

Social strata and Sectoral formations within the Motive forces

Sectoral formations among the motive forces of transformation pursue the same goal as the ANC, in the measure that they strive for the true interests of these sectors. Among them are to be found student and professional organisations, structures of the religious community, the youth, women, traditional leaders, traditional leaders, business association, structures in the rural areas, civic associations, (NGO`s) and others. It behoves the ANC to work amongst them and join them both in sectoral and inter-sectoral campaigns to realise the aims of the NDR. Strategy and Tactics (1997)

G. The Youth

The youth is an important and special component of any society. As a group, they do not form a class, but they are a social stratum (sector). As such, young women and men mirror the stratification of the society within which they live; they shares class and group loyalties and engage in struggles for the realisation of concrete social ideals and interests.

Sectors of the youth therefore include the working youth, unemployed, students, middle class, etc. Generally, the political outlook of each category of the youth mirrors its social position. However, what makes the youth as a strata special apart from its age and numerical strength are the social characteristics which are peculiar to it.

These characteristics and qualities include: that the young represent the future and that youth is a stage of learning. As a sector they are therefore the shock troops of every class and social strata and all of these wage a fierce battle for their hearts and minds. Black youth has and continues to bore the brunt of the apartheid legacy denied access to quality education and training, swelling the ranks of the unemployed, faced by social ills such as crime, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, etc. They have made an immeasurable contribution to the struggle for national liberation.

Since 1994, a start has been made to create a better life for youth: the establishment of the National and Provincial Youth Commissions, the adoption of a National Youth Policy, the transformation of education and training, the focus of job creation programmes such as the NPWP and the creation of the Umsobomvu Fund, a major focus on youth in our National AIDS Programme, etc.

The last decade in comparison with the 70`s and 80`s has seen a drastic decline in political activism of youth. This has been due to objective conditions the generations of the 70`s and 80`s are no longer young and the new generation of youth has not been exposed to the raw manifestations of apartheid and the struggle against it. At a subjective level, the Youth League and other mass sectoral formations of youth have had difficulties in adapting to their role in the new situation. There is also a concerted battle for the hearts and minds of youth, especially the encouragement of values of individualism and the pursuit of money and material symbols.

The above, coupled with devastating impact of unemployment on this sector, has contributed to a sense of apathy and marginalisation of youth manifested in the low levels of registration and voting amongst especially first time voters.

Challenges facing the movement with regards this sector therefore include:

  • strengthening the ANC Youth League and other progressive youth formations to champion the interests of young people in the ANC and society and giving leadership to the youth movement as a whole;
  • ensuring concrete government and national programmes that will lead to the improvement of the situation of youth and integrating youth issues into the national agenda;
  • mobilising young women and men to participate in the mplementation of key programmes in the National Youth Policy aimed at urgent interventions in areas such as youth unemployment and skills development;
  • engaging in the battle for the hearts and minds of youth, around the values of service, a non-racial and non-sexist society, patriotism, moral regeneration, excellence and solidarity, human rights through the organisational and cultural expressions of youth music, the media, sub-cultures, education system, religion, etc;
H. Students and the Education sector

The success of the National Democratic Revolution amongst other things depends on our ability to fundamentally transform the education system in our country. It is common knowledge that the Apartheid State used education as one of the tools to entrench its political and ideological system.

Over the years the student movement played a critical role in challenging the ideological and political basis of the education system in South Africa. The student movement understood that without the destruction of the apartheid system there is no way that the education system could be changed. It was with-in this context that COSAS & AZASO (SANSCO), preambles said "We as students are members of the Society before we are students". This understanding gave the student movement reason to play an active part in the overall National Democratic Revolution.

The post 1994 situation brought about new opportunities and challenges for the student movement. Amongst the key tasks of the progressive student movement is therefore to ensure that, in addition to issues of access and fees, the education system is able to produce revolutionary intellectuals (organic intellectuals) who will be pre-occupied with the transformation agenda and proffessionals and other middle strata that will make a meaningful contribution to the upliftment of society as a whole.

To achieve this, the democratic forces must contribute to building and strengthening organisations in the education sector, for our people to be active agents in the transformation of education and training.

  • This include organised expressions such as: the progressive student movement (COSAS, SASCO & SRC`s, YCS, SUCA, SASPU); parents into School Governing bodies at school, local, regional and national level; progressive academics; teachers through SADTU and engaging the other teachers unions and workers in the education sector organised by NEHAWU.
  • Strengthenining co-ordination and joint action between the Education department, the above-organised formations, parliament and national democratic forces generally to build an effective movement for education transformation.
  • Engaging in the battle for the hearts and minds of students, as part of the future and aspirant middle class, to ensure that they will be committed to contribute transformation and upliftment of the poor, to a non-racial and non-sexist society through the political mobilisation of students and their involvement in community service programmes.
I. The Civic movement

Urbanisation and the deliberate policies of underdevelopment of black communities have given rise to civic and residents organisations in the 70`s and 80`s that mobilised communities around bread and butter issues such as rental increases, and through resistance to Black Local Authorities, located the civic movement as part of the national democratic movement.

Alongside the youth, students and trade union locals, these structures in the 80`s became an important part of the movement to make apartheid unworkable, locating townships and villages as centres for popular mobilisation and introducing alternative organs of peoples power.

The unbanning of the ANC in 1990 meant that it occupied through its branches, the same centre (the townships and villages) as that of the local civic organisation. This introduced a confusion of roles resulting often in a mechanical separation between the `political` and `civic` role of the ANC and Sanco branches, respectively.

This state of affairs, together with the subjective weaknesses of ANC and SANCO branches, meant that local and community mobilisation has been rather disparate and at times leaving space for the mobilisation of communities into `concerned groups`, often with a very narrow oppositional agenda. Another development in this sector, has also been the mobilisation of Residents associations in formerly white areas, often closely aligned to the white opposition parties, especially the DP.

Challenges facing the democratic forces in this sector include clarifying the role of the civic movement through engagement with SANCO and in the Alliance; strengthen ANC branches to take up community issues in partnership with other community groups and sectors, including civics; strengthen local government tier to ensure more effective delivery and transformation at community level, improve confidence of communities in this tier by improving interactions between local councils and communities and ensure that ANC councillors are accountable and serve their communities.

J. The Religious sector

Religion has played an important role in the ideological structure of colonialism and apartheid and in the process of cultural domination. At the same time, large sections of the religious community have aligned themselves with the struggle against oppression and injustice and played an important role in mobilizing from a moral, ideological perspective (e.g. liberation theology) against apartheid. Leading members of the ANC came from this sector from the days of Rev. John Dube to date. This sector too was divided along racial lines, with most religious denominations having its white and black chapters.

The religious sector is one of the largest in the whole adult community, embracing the majority of all peoples. In reaching out to the spirit of the community it touches depths in all people. It can have a very positive or negative place, often reflecting positive and negative leadership at different levels.

The post-1994 period has seen a degree a demobilisation of the progressive sector of the religious community, the resurgence of the debate about religion and politics and some increase in religious fundamentalism. On the one hand is the concern of some people to `go back to being the church` (or mosque, etc), and to neglect political and social involvement and collective action, except within their own structures. Their major emphases therefore tend to be to develop their own congregations and withdraw from any other involvement in society. These will see opportunities for self-growth in the transformation process, but do little for it.

Opposition groups have taken advantage of this by using the `religion must not be involved in politics` ploy to woo religious groups away from ANC. "Your role is to protest and be in opposition where government goes wrong".

Others, represented in all religious communities, have a faith which embraces a vision of caring for the `meek and the mild`, a concern with poverty and the moral regeneration of our society. Their congregations more often than not include substantive numbers of those who form part of the motive forces. They therefore embrace much of our own vision, and see their task to work with the progressive forces for transformation. They gain much from being involved in a wider purpose. Our task is to work with them, like we did during the struggle against Apartheid, as partners.

K. Social forces and institutions operating in the realm of Ideology and Ideas

This area is critical, because even though we may have made progress in material terms, unless the forces for change are able to exercise hegemony, it will impact on our capacity to mobilise society around our programme for change, and ultimately on our ability to effect change and transformation.

This sector include the media (public and private), research and academic institutions, policy institutes and in general, the intelligentsia in our society.

We should therefore continue to engage democraticly-minded people working in these sectors. We should support the efforts of progressive journalist in the electronic and print media, with a view towards improving the quality of journalism and deepen national debate. We should engage the universities, research and policy institutes, to address the feelings of alienation amongst some academics and intellectuals at the institutions of higher education from the programme of transformation.

At a broader level, we should also consider the resonance we find in the concept of the African Renaissance, as part of dealing with the issues of national identity, morality and common values.

L. The NGO sector and other social movements

In addition to the classes and strata referred to above, there are also other social movements and NGO`s that emerged around specific sectoral interests, such as the needs of disabled, children`s rights, the aged, the gay and lesbian community or around specific issues such as environmental movements or movements against HIV/AIDS.

The non-governmental sector has a particular role to play in the process of deepening democracy and people-centred development and the democratic forces need to interact with this sector in joint programmes against poverty, for social development and assist to strengthen its capacity.

The movement need to engage with these and other sectors, firstly to ensure that they realise the co-incidence between their sectoral or issue based interests and the broader transformation project.

Our engagement should include concrete programmes that address their issues such as our comprehensive government policy on the disabled, policies for the protection of the aged, ending discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or the integration of concerns for the environment in all our policies.

We must also engage with organisations working in these sectors in joint programmes, participate in their sectoral programmes, organise and recruit from their ranks and ensure that our members participate in these social movements as part of the broader transformation project.



We have in the past defined the forces which the NDR sought to defeat as the white ruling class, represented by monopoly capitalism and including other class and social strata within the white community, all whom had an objective interest in the continuation of white minority rule.

April 1994 represented a strategic defeat for the forces of white minority rule, the attainment of `an element of the NDR`. Because this was achieved through negotiations, it meant that the forces arrayed against our strategic objective of the creation of a non-racial, democratic, non-sexist and united South Africa still maintained important elements of power.

These elements of power included the apartheid state machinery which we took over and the security networks used by the regime, either burrowed within the state machinery or concealed in front companies and other private enterprises. The ideas and influence of the previous ruling classes which still predominated in the civil service, in the economic sector, in the meda, meant that the capacity of the democratic movement was in many respects circumscribe. All this represented opportunities for those fundamentally opposed to change to mobilise against it.

During the last five years, this mobilisation has also been expressed through attempts at the reconfiguration of political and social forces in our society and in a fierce ideological contest. This includes the various attempts to build an alternative to the ANC: trying to represent the UDM as a multi-racial alternative, the repeated calls for the `unity of the opposition` and to unite against one-party-domination.

The other side of the coin to this strategy has been to weaken the ANC: by the oft-repeated calls for it to break the Alliance, by presenting its leadership in government and its public representatives as corrupt, authoritarian, inept and only interested in enriching itself at the expense of the masses that voted it into power, etc or as calls for a `new centrist ANC`, that, having shed its communist and trade union allies, must modernise and become a regular political party.

But more importantly, it finds expressions in the attacks on the transformation project itself and in the promotion of essentially neo-liberal ideas, as articulated by the Democratic Party such as: "Where the ANC`s solution to almost every problem is to make a bigger government, we say let`s make individual lives better. On the one side is the ANC, which believes in big, centralised government... The DP stands for an opportunity society where individuals have the freedom and the physical means to improve their lives and the lives of their children. We will continue to oppose the new racism. We want a country built on opportunity, fuelled by peaceful commerce, driven by the spirit of enterprise, founded on justice, fairness and merit, protected by the law."

Behind all these words, is the fundamental idea that everything must be left to the great leveller, the market, which is driven by the notion that `self regarding interest is predominant over social interest` and in essense against any attempts to address the the legacy of apartheid.

These messages are propagated, repeated and reinforced on a day to day basis by the media and through the political representatives of these forces against transformation.

On the other hand, the overwhelming moral and political legitimacy of our new order has forced some of the elements against transformation to find clandestine and sometimes innocuous ways of subverting transformation.

These may include setting up intelligence and armed networks parallel to and within the state to sabotage change or aggravation of such social problems as crime; it may entail underground efforts to undermine the country`s economy, including investor confidence and the currency; deliberate acts of corruption driven not merely by greed; sabotage of the programme for delivery; wrecking government information systems; illegal and malicious acts of capital flights and so on.

What these forces against transformation in the end seek to achieve is to derail, reverse, delay and at the end of the day prevent the fundamental transformation of our society, so as to end up with a system in which the social privileges of apartheid are retained, in a somewhat modified form.

The national democratic forces, in order to defeat this agenda will have to do a number of things. We must act with resolution to transform the state and ensure that the forces against transformation do not set the battle of ideas.

We must continue to engage the social base of these forces by convincing white South Africans that their future can only be secured by working for a better life for all; and by engaging white capital towards a national consensus on the issues of economic growth, through investment in the real economy, in infrastructure, SMME`s, skills development, job creation programmes and land redistribution.

In the final analysis, the best antidote against these forces against transformation, is confidence in the motive forces, mobilised always to be in political action.

The democratic forces must therefore be conscious, as it pursue this task, of the potential vulnerabilities that certain subjective weaknesses or contradictions within the motive forces may pose: such as scope for narrow economism/trade unionism, narrow oppositionism within the working class movement; narrow economism, individualism within the emerging black elite; apathy and feelings of alienation or entitlement amongst the youth and students or amongst ANC cadres in government managerialism, remoteness from the masses, narrow sectoralism.



In order for the movement to fulfil the strategic tasks of the national democratic revolution and mobilise the motive forces, we need new cadres and mandarins who have the depth of understanding and the level of political commitment to the objectives of the new democratic order.

The process cannot exclude the reality and challenge that we must approach the development of an ANC cadre in a comprehensive manner, so that we build an army of cadres that wherever they are deployed will tirelessly and with boldness and innovation pursue the objectives of the national democratic revolution.

There can be no revolutionary movement, without a revolutionary cadre.

Build the New Person Build the ANC Cadre!


  1. Strategy and Tacttics of the ANC. Mafeking. 1997
  2. The State and Social Transformation. September 1996
  3. Why workers should vote ANC. COSATU election phamplet. 1999.
  4. From Resistance to Reconstruction. Tasks of the ANC in the new epoch of the Democratic Transformation. Unmandated reflections. August 9, 1994.
  5. ANC 1999 Elections Manifesto
  6. The challenge of building a popular movement for transformation. Cde David Makhura. Umrabulo No. 7 1st Quarter 1999
  7. Acclerating change. The balance of forces in 1999. Umrabulo No. 7 1st Quarter 1999
  8. Speech of President Mbeki closing the debate at the opening of Parliament. 30 June 1999
  9. Strategy and Tactics of the ANC. Morogoro Conference. 1969