Understanding our revolution’s strategic objective; analysing domestic and international balance of forces in order to determine the best tactics to advance our strategy and which alliances to forge in that process; and knowing our history is absolutely essential for every member of a liberation movement. However, if members of the ANC fail to adhere to the basics such as organisational discipline then our combat capabilities become redundant. We will perpetually be caught in a paralysis of analysis; and when we do act, the actions will be flawed because the base that informs it is wrong.
By Reneva Fourie
In the corporate world, a strategy is the long-term plan to realise an organisation’s vision based on its core values. The tactics reflect the high level methodology to achieve the goals related to that vision. The contents of the strategy and tactics are usually informed by a variety of analytical exercises such as a SWOT analysis that is an assessment of the organisation’s internal (micro) strengths and weaknesses, as well as external (macro) opportunities and threats. The external opportunities and threats are informed by an analysis of political, economic, socio-cultural and technological environmental factors. Other aspects for consideration include organisational capacity, alliances and partnerships, and finances.
While the terminology in a liberation movement is not necessarily the same as those in the corporate world, the tools are similar. In the ANC, our vision is the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Our strategy is the national democratic revolution:
National-infusing a sense of national identity and cohesive national sovereignty;
Democratic-creating a society of the people, by the people, for the people; and
Revolution-effecting radical structural change to state, economic, ideological, community, and international relations.
We term our analysis “an assessment of the balance of forces”. This usually informs what we describe as “the character of our revolution”, which in the past was expressed as “colonialism of a special type”. This analysis also informs our tactics, which is determined at national conference, specified in the January 8 Speech. And because we are the governing party, it finds practical expression in the President’s State of the Nation Address.
Solidifying the basics
Understanding our revolution’s strategic objective; analysing domestic and international balance of forces in order to determine the best tactics to advance our strategy and which alliances to forge in that process; and knowing our history is absolutely essential for every member of a liberation movement. However, if members of the ANC fail to adhere to the basics such as organisational discipline, then our combat capabilities become redundant. We will perpetually be caught in a paralysis of analysis; and when we do act, the actions will be flawed because the base that informs it is wrong.
There are three prevalent ideological deviations, which are current organisational weaknesses. These are the de-emphasis on the African working class as a motive force; non-racialism (a rise in narrow African nationalism); and factionalism and division in the movement. The deviations can be managed by elevating the values in the constitution and entrenching it (the constitution) as a political and ideological document to guide members and to unite our organisation. With the foundation of organisational discipline solidified, principles such as democratic centralism can then be enforced.
Democratic centralism implies that the individual is subordinate to the collective, while the collective respects the individual. The minority has to sub-ordinate to the majority, while the majority respects the minority. The lower level structures sub-ordinate to the higher level structures and leading organs listen to and respect the lower levels. The NEC should sub-ordinate itself to the national conference and the entire organisation should sub-ordinate itself to the constitution.
The enforcement of democratic centralism does not only imply adherence to policy and programmatic resolutions. It also implies respect for elected leadership. While recognising that there are flaws in the leadership electoral processes and that some leaders accordingly might not be deserving of their positions; emphasis should be on fixing the systemic weaknesses rather than disrespecting its outcomes. Leaders can always be developed and guided; organisational ill-discipline, however, is the breeding ground of factionalism, chaos, and eventually organisational collapse.
We will never all have the leaders of our choice. The ANC has almost a million members, each with its own leadership preferences. But once a leadership collective has been elected, they should be allowed to serve their term (unless they violated the constitution or its code of conduct) and be supported in implementing the resolutions. The cycle of purging has to end. So too, the practice of senior leaders of our movement criticising the organisation externally in the guise of intellectual engagement or transparency, has to end.
From resistance to reconstruction
Elevating the centrality of the constitution and enforcing organisational discipline, will assist us to take ownership of our responsibilities as the governing party. There has been a tactical shift in the NDR from resistance to reconstruction . Recognising this shift makes defending our sovereignty one of our primary goals. If we lose state power, the NDR will not only be derailed; all our gains will be reversed.
Some elements of defence entail meeting the service delivery needs of our people, while including them in the process; as well as being vigilant of threats. Accordingly, we can no longer blame and complain; and problems can no longer be permanently diagnosed and explained. We are expected to provide the solutions. As the governing party, we are expected to use our power to make government work.
South Africa has highly qualified, well paid, competent public servants. Our performance and financial accountability mechanisms are world-class. What is missing is consequence management. The Labour Relations Act should not be used as an excuse for protecting non-performers as it does not promote incompetence. Public servants and public representatives who fail to perform should be dismissed. Regarding theft or abuse of public resources, there are enough bodies that investigate corruption; what we now require is a special court for processing cases of corruption to ensure speedy punishment of the guilty and relief for the innocent.
No matter the challenges, our people count on us, as their liberation movement, to exercise the authority bestowed upon us through their votes, to lead in building a capable, effective, stable and safe, developmental state. In order to meet the governance expectations of our people, unity of purpose, collective leadership, organisational discipline and upholding revolutionary morality within the ANC, and the Alliance as a whole, is imperative.
The ANC has more than enough enemies
In assessing the balance of forces, we have to be conscious of the threats facing our revolution. Three reasons for South Africa being a country of strategic interest are its location, its ideology and its resources.
Our location on the tip of Africa, bordered by both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans makes us important for trade and defence. Our firm verbosity on international affairs and active support for countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua and Palestine; make us an ideological nightmare for the West, particularly the USA. Likewise, though the political stances of individual BRICS countries vacillate, the collective endeavours to delink from the dollar and swift systems, as well as efforts to create a fairer global trading system are significant. Lastly, given the global shift towards greener, and technologically based production methods, the fact that South Africa possesses the highest levels of chromium and Platinum Group Metals in the world, 72.4 percent and 87.7 percent respectively, significantly impacts on international interests in our resources.
In lieu of our vulnerability, internal squabbles, corruption and non-delivery on our electoral promises pose strategic risks. The ANC has more than enough enemies that would like to see it lose state power. We therefore have to be exceptionally vigilant with regards to the threat of regime-change. The dominant form of warfare now is non-kinetic in nature ie psychological: using informational, diplomatic, economic, ideological and technological means to persuade, coerce, shape and impair the national will of a target state, through exploiting and deepening existing instabilities or weaknesses and creating internal implosion. General fault lines that are elevated are corruption and the inability of governments to constantly deliver in economically challenging times. South African specific weaknesses include racism, xenophobia and crime.
Recently we witnessed the arrest of right wing extremists who were plotting to violently overthrow our government. This group has, amongst others, been capitalising on farm killings and magnifying it to represent white genocide. This has not only created feelings of insecurity and displacement amongst white South Africans. It has also allowed for the consolidation of relations with right wing networks outside of South Africa. During a recent visit to Holland, a historical ally of the ANC, the misperception of white genocide in South Africa was so deeply instilled that much effort was required to convince anti-apartheid stalwarts that the ANC has not abandoned its principle of non-racialism.
South Africa, and particularly the ANC, is increasingly isolated from our historical allies on the continent due to xenophobic attacks. While these are very serious and fortunately are receiving priority attention at all levels, the amounts of fake news in this regard and the fallibilities of even senior leaders on the continent to untruths are alarming.
Then of course, we are ranked as the crime capital of the world. Indeed, our high crime levels are unacceptable, particularly violent crimes against women and children as well as gang-related wars. However, are domestic violence, rape, and the killing and abuse of women and children exclusively South African phenomena? What is spurring these alarming incidents of gang-related deaths? Are we truly the most dangerous country in the world?
One also has to question the high levels of disillusionment and despondency within our movement and amongst South Africans in general. An objective assessment of developments since the Nasrec Conference should have bolstered confidence in the ANC. The actions taken against corruption are unprecedented. Senior public servants have been removed; board members have been replaced; criminal investigations are underway and arrests have been made – yet there is little jubilation on these matters. Likewise, we have made so many interventions to stabilise our economy, yet it continues to ail and bleed; weakened further by threats of disinvestment for failing to embrace neo-liberal economic policy interventions.
When analysing the domestic and international threats to our revolution, we acknowledge that the genesis of all our challenges and vulnerabilities can be traced to the crises in capitalism and social reproduction. The theory and linkages of which are expounded upon in other literature .
Also, we cannot transfer responsibility for its resolution to external forces. In fact, we must ensure that these weaknesses are addressed and contained as a matter of urgency. However, we should not be blind to the objective reality that external forces might be deliberately exacerbating and amplifying our weaknesses with the intent of systematically and over time turn, not just South Africans, but the world against the ANC.
The whole intent of non-kinetic warfare or psychological operations (psyops) is to collapse the state through impairment of the will of both the leadership and nation, in the hope that the electorate will vote the governing party out of power. But should a change in government through the ballot fail, then by laying the foundation, all that will be required will be the slight deepening of a fault line or a well-timed provocation and our malaises will gain momentums of their own. And should the state respond with violent repression, it will be exactly the fuel desired to ignite an uncontrollable counter-revolution and inevitable regime-change.
United we stand, divided we fall
In conclusion, the ANC is not an island that is immune to external threats. A number of countries have become victims of non-kinetic warfare and we are not being spared. This necessitates that our defence of our revolution be broadened beyond the borders of South Africa. We have to appreciate that imperialism is a global phenomenon that will require co-ordinated action from progressive, peace-loving nations if its adverse impacts are going to be challenged. South Africa, as led by the ANC, has an important contribution to make, but it is not going to happen if the thinking of members of the ANC is parochial.
Solidifying the basics then becomes important. The infighting must stop. Putting personal interests above that of the organisation must stop. Undermining organisational structures must stop. Elevating the constitution to be the political and ideological document that guides and unites our organisation so that we can drive its strategy and tactics becomes an imperative. Furthermore, understanding and appreciating the constitution of the ANC, and our responsibilities as members imply that we have a key role to play in implementing ANC policies and programs. We are not permitted to sit on the side-lines and criticise. Likewise, our diplomatic relations both as a party and a government have to be far more strategic. We must not assume that the new charm of the West carries positive intent. It is a fact that diplomacy has become a core instrument of non-kinetic warfare.
The need for unity, discipline and pro-poor policy hegemony within the ANC is being emphasised perpetually, because the ANC as the vehicle that must drive the NDR, cannot be faulty. Furthermore, we must promote clean, efficient and effective governance; and contribute to the creation of a conscious, cohesive, active, and responsible citizenry. This will assist to reduce our internal fault lines to the minimum and increase the capacity of our revolution to sustain shocks. Let’s embed and encourage all South Africans to embrace the slogan that rallied us during our struggle against apartheid – United we stand. Divided we fall!