Thursday, September 27, 2007

Discussing the ANC Strategy and Tactics

Discussing the Strategy and Tactics

The essence of any revolutionary struggle is organisationally articulated through strategy and tactics, comprising the underpinning programmatic and methodological pillars guiding and sustaining revolutionary movements. It is against this background that the African National Congress has since 1912 had a set of tactics and a strategy, documented or otherwise.

It was only in 1969 that the ANC Strategy and Tactics was written to fulfill the following tasks: summarise the strategic objective; identify and set out strategic and tactical methods towards the strategic objective; analyse the balance force; outline and define the motive forces and identify who the enemies of the revolutionary movement are. At formation, the central strategic objective in the ANC has been creation of a non-racial South Africa, which historically evolved to recognise that creation of a non-racial society could not be separated from a concurrent resolution the class contradictions and patriarchy—characteristic of South Africa’s Colonialism of a Special Type.

Now, the first on paper Strategy and Tactics was adopted in the First National Consultative Conference of the ANC in Tanzania, Morogoro in 1969. This was in the midst of decolonisation of Africa and rising strength of the Socialist forces worldwide. Recognising and somewhat inspired by the regional and global phenomena, the 1969 Strategy and Tactics was prologued by an observation that “the struggle of the oppressed people of South Africa is taking place within an international context of transition to the Socialist system, of the break­down of the colonial system as a result of national liberation and socialist revolutions, and the fight for social and economic progress by the people of the whole world” (S&T, 1969).

The 1969 Strategy and Tactics made what became the core of the revolutionary and distinct character of the national liberation movement in South Africa, the fact that “In our country - more than in any other part of the oppressed world - it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole… It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy” (S&T, 1969). The Strategic Objective was then summed up as “the complete political and economic emancipation of all our people and the constitution of a society which accords with the basic pro-visions of our programme - the Freedom Charter” (S&T, 1969)

The African National Congress was guided by these observations in the period post 1969--such that when analysing the Nature of South African Ruling Class in the Second National Consultative Conference in Kabwe in 1985, there was no question that the enemy of the National democratic Revolution is white monopoly capital. This was mainly premised on the historical recognition that national oppression and its consequences was a predominant feature, whilst class exploitation was a primary component of the Colonialism of a Special Type. This summation was understood in the context that “the aims of our National Democratic Revolution will only be fully realised with the construction of a social order in which all the historic consequences of national oppression and its FOUNDATION, economic exploitation will be liquidated” (Politico-Military Strategy Commission Report, 1979; emphasis added).

Now, the central focus of Kabwe Conference was the nature of the South African ruling class; wherein there was no doubt that white monopoly capital constitutes the primary enemy of the progressive forces of change. It is instructive to note that a Draft Strategy and Tactics was presented in the Kabwe Conference and could not be adopted due to certain omissions in the Draft. Conference then mandated a Drafting Committee composed of the National Executive Committee and the Politico-Military Council to revise and strengthen the Draft S&T presented to Conference. Vivid in the omissions that Conference noted included were the role of the working class and emergence of the trade unions; the Bantustans and their changing nature; programme of action for rural areas outside the Bantustans; and the revolutionary alliance (Kabwe S&T Resolution, 1985). Whilst not avowed, the 1969 Strategy and Tactics remained the telescope and guide of the ANC post Kabwe Conference, as the Draft was not adopted.

The 48th National Congress of the ANC in 1991 did not make a substantive analysis of the balance of forces (which had substantially shifted with the collapse of the Socialist forces, symbolised by the fall of the Soviet Union), yet noted in the Strategy and Tactics resolution that despite the repeal of some apartheid laws, “the basic political, social, gender and economic relations of oppression and exploitation [remained] intact” (S&T Resolution, 1991). The 48th Congress recommitted to the elimination of apartheid and creation of a united, democratic nonracial and nonsexist state. Key features of the 1991 S&T resolution encapsulated a commitment to “strengthening of the tripartite alliance of the ANC, SACP and COSATU, as a fighting force at national, regional and local levels” and opened up for negotiations “in the context of intensified struggle on all fronts and in combination with other forms of struggle” (S&T Resolution, 1991).

An overall redraft of the ANC S&T was presented and adopted at the 1997 50th Congress of the ANC in Mafikeng. Certainly there was an unquestionable need for a new Strategy and Tactics to be adopted due to fundamental political changes that ensued, with South Africa entering the new millennium having achieved formal political liberation. In 1997, an honest and correct acknowledgment was made, diametrically different from the 1969 S&T prologue, that the defeat and end of apartheid “take place in a world in which the system of capitalism enjoys dominant sway over virtually the entire globe”… yet in “a world too in which the agenda of the working people and developing nations can find creative expression in pursuit of a humane, just and equitable world order” (S&T, 1997).

Recognising this reality, the 1997 S&T maintained that the essence of the NDR remained the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. Consistent with the 1969 revolutionary and distinct recognition, the 1997 S&T noted that “The symbiotic link between capitalism and national oppression in our country, and the stupendous concentration of wealth in the hands of a few monopolies therefore render trite the vainglorious declaration that national oppression and its social consequences can be resolved by formal democracy underpinned by market forces to which all should kneel in the prayer: `everyone for himself and the Devil takes the hindmost!'

The 1997 Strategy and Tactics contextualised the working class leadership of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR)… and said “South African capitalism gave birth to a collective of black workers whose class position and social existence placed it at the head of the struggle for freedom. By dint of its activism and organisation, this class won the respect of all the other motive forces as the leader of the NDR.” (S&T, 1997). The 1997 Strategy and Tactics went further to reward and inaugurate the emerging black bourgeoisie as a motive force for fundamental change, and asserted that “in the overall, the rising black bourgeoisie and middle strata are objectively important motive forces of transformation whose interests coincide with at least the immediate interests of the majority” (S&T, 1997). Vivid in the 1997 S&T was a reaffirmation of the Alliance, stating that the “Tripartite Alliance is therefore not a matter of sentiment, but an organisational expression of the common purpose and unity in action that these forces share, and continue jointly to define and redefine in the course of undertaking the tasks of the NDR” (S&T, 1997).

Proclaiming People’s Power in Action in 2002, the 51st National Conference of the ANC in Stellenbosch retained the key observations and outlining of strategic and tactical paths towards resolution of the class, gender and national contradictions; and creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and united South Africa. The 2002 Conference appended an explanatory note (in the form of a Preface) to the Strategy and Tactics adopted in 1997, and emphasised that although it aided in defining the conjecture then, the whole S&T had to be read for a thorough comprehension of the tasks and pathways towards the Freedom Charter envisaged society; what constituted possible threats; and what the global and national objective environment was.

Somewhat more concrete and definitive of the envisaged society, the Draft Strategy and Tactics 2007 represents a conceptual divergence from what previous Strategy and Tactics documents outlined. The Draft S&T argues that to resolve the gender, class and national contradictions, we need to construct a National Democratic Society. The envisaged National Democratic Society does not seek to radically transform Property relations, but seek to mobilise all forces (including the hitherto contradictory forces) towards a common developmental goal. The Draft S&T 2007 argues that in constructing a National Democratic Society, the revolutionary movement should appreciate the reality that domestically, the balance of forces, are in favour of the forces of change. Caution should however be exercised in the conscious construction of an NDS due to existence of a Hyper Power and predominance of capitalism.

Vividly absent in the Draft Strategy and Tactics 2007 is creation of a society envisaged in the Freedom Charter (wherein mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industry and banks shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole) and substantiation of the alliance as an organ of change and “organisational expression of the common purpose and unity in action that [the alliance] share, and continue jointly to define and redefine in the course of undertaking the tasks of the NDR”. The Draft S&T intends to create a class society disobedient of the social scientific observations that in any class society, contradictions between the ruling and the ruled class are inherent. Policy Conference’s emphasis was that surely monopoly capital cannot be an ally in the construction of an NDS and that the Freedom Charter remains our Strategic Objective, whilst retaining the ANC as a centre that holds.

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