Policy document

Statement by the ANC NEC Policy Committee on the release of the 5th National Policy Conference Discussion Documents 


The ANC launches its Discussion Documents in order to inform debate and discussion towards the 2017 National Policy Conference, to be held from 30 June to 5 July 2017.

Also present here today are the chairpersons of the various NEC subcommittees who will answer questions, pertaining to their committees’ documents.


  • Jackson Mthembu – Communications and the Battle of Ideas
  • Enoch Godongwana – Economic Transformation
  • Naledi Pandor – Education and Health
  • Edna Molewa – International Relations
  • Ayanda Dlodlo – Legislature and Governance
  • Lindiwe Sisulu – Social Transformation
  • Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula – Peace and Stability
  • Fikile Mbalula – Organisational Renewal
  • Nathi Mthethwa – Strategy and Tactics


The principal objective of the ANC releasing its discussion documents is to enable all members of the ANC, at all levels of the organisation, to review the implementation of policies adopted at the 53rd National Conference, to assess their adequacy and to propose areas for policy review or new policies towards the 54th National Conference, to be held in December 2017.  It is only the National Conference of the ANC that adopts policy.

The ANC’s 2017 January Statement highlighted that “the ANC has always been a people’s parliament and that it remains vitally important that the decisions of the ANC are shaped by popular mass endorsement at all times.”

The ANC looks forward to wide-ranging discussions, highlighting divergent views and intense debate on its policy proposals and we trust that the organisation and the nation will emerge from this process with a united, common vision of our country’s developmental trajectory.


South Africa is a much better place to live in 2017 than twenty or, even, ten years ago. This is largely attributable to the policies and programmes of the African National Congress. We have made significant progress in every measurable area and improved peoples’ access to health care, schooling, housing and other areas. Poverty has halved between 2002 and 2011, according to StasSA. The number of households with access to energy and electricity services increased from 77% to 86% and water infrastructure services from 80 to 86%, between 2002 – 2014, which exceeds the approved RDP standards.

We are steadily working on the remaining challenges and adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) to eradicate poverty, reduce unemployment and address inequality.


The ANC’s strategic objective remains putting in place a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. We pursue this objective within an ever-changing world and under conditions that are not always of our choosing. Within this context, the ANC must consistently adapt our strategy and tactics to suit the prevailing material conditions.

Having regard to the many global and domestic changes since the 53rd National Conference as well as the many developments since 2007, the Strategy and Tactics Discussion Document proposes that the organisation completely revises its Strategy and Tactics. The document outlines the ANC’s analysis of the global and international balance of forces and how these impact on the attainment of the organisation’s ultimate objectives. Arising from this, the document proposes medium- and long-term tasks to be undertaken by the ANC and society at large in order to attain the National Democratic Society.

The Discussion Document puts forward that the world is increasingly characterized by social discord, that at the heart of this social discord are tensions about the distribution of income and assets in society. South Africa still experiences these challenges along particularly acute racial and class lines and this is in part due to the Apartheid legacy and the structural inequalities in our economy. Our responses must, therefore, be targeted to addressing these social ills and we must therefore align our Strategy And Tactics to respond to the current challenges of race, class and gender inequality.

At the heart of the discussion document remains the ANC’s  call for the second phase of the National Democratic Revolution, that requires a more intense focus on the full radical economic and social transformation of our country. Our National DevelopPlan remains the programme to drive that programme of radical socio- economic transformation. This paradigm shift from political emancipation to socio-economic freedom recognizes that “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.”


The Organisational Renewal Discussion Document acknowledges that the conditions under which the ANC operates have changed. The paper further acknowledges that the ANC’s own internal challenges, such as social distance between leaders and members, widespread corruption, poor performance in government and abuse of organizational processes for personal gain, will contribute to the ANC’s demise if left unattended. The discussion document recognizes that the ANC is increasingly losing the trust of the people as illustrated by declining electoral performance and intense public criticism. The organization must act urgently to restore its moral character, to win back the trust of the people and to ensure that the ANC is structured optimally to remain the leader of the motive forces for change.

The  paper proposes that the ANC should maintain its dual character as a national liberation movement and a political party, specifically as access to state power and the machinery of the state is the principal vehicle for changing the lives of the people. It argues that this necessitates the organisation to readjust its operational machinery to operate on both fronts. The document sets out specific proposals for the ANC as liberation movement and the ANC as a political party.

The document highlights the importance of ensuring that the ANC’s most capable cadres must at all times be available to do organsational work and strengthen the ANC’s hegemony in society. The paper proposes that the size of the NEC should be reduced and that the organization must limit the number of NEC-members that serve in government (65%) and ensuring that ANC leaders are spread throughout all sectors of society. Contained in this proposal is the recognition that some of the organisation’s best cadres must remain in the ANC on a full-time basis. The paper poses questions pertaining to the size and shape of ANC branches such as whether the current ward-based system is still adequate or whether there should be scope for sector-based branches or even a hybrid system of ward and workplace/ sectoral branches.

The paper puts forward that the organization must establish a Revolutionary Electoral Commission to effectively deal with issues of gatekeeping and manipulation of electoral processes. The paper also proposes that the organization reviews its nomination and electoral processes to allow for open contestation. Such open contestation must be informed by guidelines and transparency.

The paper proposes that the ANC should have a fully automated electronic recruitment and membership management system. This system should be centrally commanded from the National office and that lower structures should have visibility of the parts that pertain to them. This is part of a broader proposal pertaining to the modernization and enhanced use of IT in organizational operations.

The Economic Transformation Discussion Document reiterates the ANC’s commitment fundamentally changing the racialised and unequal structure of the South African economy. It acknowledges that South Africa has not made enough progress in reducing unemployment and unemployment and that we need to increase wages and broad-based ownership and control of the economy. The ANC’s programme to transform South Africa’s society and economy must, therefore,  be judged on the extent to which it radically and systematically improves the lives and opportunities of those who are marginalised and excluded.

The paper proposes a series of measures to ensure that we strengthen radical economic transformation. These measures aim to reduce unemployment and specifically youth unemployment, return the land to our people, increase black ownership and control in the economy, activate small businesses and co-operatives, raise the level of investment, strengthen social justice and conditions for the poor and working class, improve the employment impact of infrastructure projects, reduce inequality and poverty, dismantle monopoly practices and structures, assert South Africa’s interests in the global economy, improve integration into the African economy and stimulate inclusive growth.

The paper puts forward a range of specific proposals to drive radical economic transformation in specific strategic sectors. We highlight a few of these proposals below:

Reducing unemployment and youth unemployment

  • A massive increase in youth access to vocational training and apprenticeship programmes in combination with public service youth brigades.
  • Infrastructure programmes and municipal programmes must include set asides for labour-based work programmes.

Returning the land to our people and supporting land reform

  • Provide greater certainty by codifying the constitutional requirement of ‘just and equitable compensation’ for the acquisition of land

Activating small businesses and cooperatives

  • A targeted programme to assist black entrepreneurs in setting up small businesses and cooperatives

Strengthening social justice and conditions for the poor and working class

  • Improvement in the quality of education, health services and public transport
  • Better regulation of the private sector so as to avoid price fixing, unfair competition and unfair labour practices
  • Stamping out corruption

The above are a few of the very detailed proposals contained in the Economic Transformation Discussion Document.

Communications and the battle of ideas remain a central focus of the ANC. The Communications Discussion Document focuses on how to maintain ANC hegemony in the context of a  media environment characterised by greater media convergence (combination of print, radio, television, radio and online media ownership, production and consumption) and consolidation. Convergence amongst the dominant media houses continue to entrench editorial positions that seem resistant to the NDR, government programmes and the ANC as leader of society. The ANC must strengthen its communications capacity, across all levels of the organization and in government,  in order to participate more effectively in the battle of ideas.

The paper further acknowledges that the ANC must lead society in preparation for the impact of 4th Industrial Revolution –characterized and driven by increased use of ICT in all human activities – and help different segments of society and the economy to adapt to the disruptive epoch. For this to happen the ANC must be prepared and organized to lead. It proposes the establishment of an ANC 4th Industrial Commission as a first step to create the enabling environment and capacity within the ANC. The paper emphasises that effective participation in the 4th Industrial Revolution means that technological advances must be utilized to address poverty, inequality and unemployment. It proposes, amongst others, that this area be utilized to build and support ICT SMMEs and innovative start-ups. There is a lot of potential to train and employ young people in the sector.

The Social Transformation Discussion Document highlights that our social transformation objectives include prioritizing the rights of our children, the creation of national identity as, creation of an inclusive South African society. That will give effect to some of the goals contained in the Freedom Charter. Some of the proposals aimed at ensuring that the ANC succeeds in implementing its programme of radical socio-economic transformation include:

The provision of comprehensive social security remains a fundamental position of the ANC and the Discussion Document makes a range of proposals on social assistance, the social wage and social insurance.

Promoting nation-building and social cohesion through, amongst others, continuing to highlight the contribution of arts, heritage and culture by providing education, training and skills through formal and informal  programmes in traditional and new creative methods and technologies.

Highlight the transformational potential of sport, resourcing sports adequately and drive the introduction of a Sports Ticket Levy to promote transformation and development through sports.

With regard to human settlements, the paper begins a discussion on whether there should be a limit on who can access government RDP housing. It proposes that government housing should prioritise vulnerable groups such as the elderly and others such as child and youth headed households.

The Education and Health Discussion Document covers four areas, i.e. (1) Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), (2) Basic Education, (3) Higher Education and (4) Health.  The document highlights that most of its proposals aim at on injecting more energy into implementation in the ANC and in government, where government serves as the ANC delivery tool or mechanism.

The paper makes the following proposals, amongst others, with regard to:

Science, Technology and Innovation:

  • That a focused process be set up to coordinate and harmonise policies and incentives, especially those with related to STI.
  • That a coordinating mechanism be considered and implemented to improve the use of STI within and across the public sector and as an enabler of service delivery.

Basic Education

  • The existing resolution of the ANC on making education an essential service must be reviewed, as it has the potential to derail existing cooperation in the sector.

Higher Education

  • That technical and vocational training must be marketed as the first choice leading to attractive career options for the majority of learners ahead of university education.
  • That a new financial support model to ensure that academically capable poor, working class and middle strata students are supported to access higher education must be finalised and implemented by 2020.


  • The health sector must continuously strengthen measures to improve the quality of care delivered by health practitioners in the public and private sector plus draft a policy to curb high costs of medical insurance and litigation against medical malpractice.


The International Relations Discussion Document reflects on the ANC’s historic mandate of progressive internationalism that shaped South Africa’s current foreign policy outlook. In this regard, it confirms the centrality of Africa in ANC foreign policy and thereby commits to continue with the pursuit of a peaceful and prosperous African continent. The paper confirms the ANC’s belief in a holistic economic diplomacy strategy that is coordinated by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, as it is an important component of foreign policy.  The paper makes recommendations to ensure that foreign policy remains guided by the NDP injunction to increase foreign direct investment and attract more tourists in order to build a resilient economy.


The core theme of the Legislature and Governance Discussion Document is the articulation of the people’s power through the state institutions. It is a recognition and appreciation by the ANC that people have entrusted the organisation with political power to advance the needs of the people, therefore the ANC’s conduct in state institutions must always reflect the will of the people.

The paper makes, amongst others, the follow proposals

  • That the ANC must enhance its electoral strategies aimed at recovering lost ground and that such strategies must be informed by clearly developed policy on entering into coalitions.
  • The Presidency must be strengthened as the strategic centre of power in the state and must drive the NDP, planning and policy, resource allocation and enforcement.
  • Fast tracking the establishment of integrity and ethics management office and building requisite capacity at all levels of government. The scope of this office must extend to the SOEs. There is a specific call for lifestyle audits of senior public servants within the context of the fight against corruption.
  • The deployment of cadres to the state based on merit, recruit public service managers with professional and technical capacity, and the strengthening of the School of Governance to build values and capacity among managers needed to lead a developmental state.
  • Hold a consultative conference around issues of concern in traditional areas and develop government policy to regularise powers of traditional leaders and customs.


The Peace and Stability Discussion Document highlights that South Africa remains a relatively stable country and that economic challenges, exemplified by unemployment, poverty and inequality, represent a key threat to the country’s stability. The paper also highlights threats posed by terrorism, cyber-terrorism and lack of skilled personnel to safeguard against cyber-attacks, illegal migration and others. It proposes a whole range of measures to address these threats, such as improving mechanisms to mobilize communities in the fight against crime, improving intelligence and prosecutorial capacity, introducing life style audits, broadened vetting and financial monitoring to curb corruption in the state.


The release of these documents heralds the start of an intense programme of discussions amongst ANC structures at all levels. Branches will call meetings and discuss their positions on the proposals. The provinces will consolidate these branch proposals at Provincial General Councils. These consolidated proposals will be sent to ANC Headquarters by mid-June 2017. At the same time, the ANC invites engagement from all sectors of society and the NEC sub-committees will embark on a series of consultations with stakeholders and opinion-makers. We have also created a web portal for members of the public to access and comment on the Discussion Documents. (

The ANC releases these documents to honour  comrade OR Tambo who said, in 1991, that  the ANC must at all times remain a people’s parliament and the people must at all times have a say in shaping the positions of the ANC.



Issued by the African National Congress National Executive Committee  Policy Sub-Committee



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