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Positioning civil society post-Polokwane: coming to terms with ANC political leadership changes
Source of the information:
The Centre for Policy Studies
In 2007 South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) was overhauled in what was seen as a revolt against the leadership of former Party President Thabo Mbeki. The party’s elective national conference was held in Polokwane and led to significant changes in its top political leadership with Jacob Zuma replacing Thabo Mbeki as Party President amidst calls for greater leadership accountability and response to the needs of the poor.
This report looks into whether changes in ANC leadership improved the prospects for greater openness and space for dialogue and engagement between CSOs and the ANC. It discusses the nature of the historical relations between the ANC and civil society and examines those relationships during the transition to democracy. It investigates the relationship between civil society and the ANC during Mbeki’s tenure as ANC president.
The report analyses the post-Polokwane ANC/civil society relationship and presents the following observations/ conclusions:
There are pockets of access and influence to ANC which can be utilised by CSOs to exert influence
The state, government and party must be disaggregated, and CSOs should develop multiple strategies to engage with these institutions
There has been a shift in the center of power from the presidency to Luthuli House, meaning that the party is once again in control of policy, and that influence resides more within the ANC than in government
The alliance partners are more influential than they were in the past, and CSOs could use them more successfully to represent particular sectoral interests
The implications for civil society are that organisations must attempt to use the alliance partners for influence, and look for synergies and overlapping interests
The predominant strategies for CSOs engagement with the ANC are the strategic targeting of the party, the government, the state, departments, parliamentary portfolio committees and Chapter 9 Institutions.