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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


DUVENHAGE, André. The ANC and the national democratic revolution: Political and strategic perspectives. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2009, vol.49, n.4, pp.705-727. ISSN 2224-7912.

Recently the leader of the officiai opposition, Helen Zilie, said the following: "The ANC's National Democratic Revolution (NDR) is not only incompatible with democracy, but it lies at the heart of virtually every crisis we face. The electricity crisis, the arms deal, the manipulation of the criminal justice system, the weakening of parliament and threats to the media and the judiciary can all be traced back to the NDR". The ANC 's reaction to this was: "Our tasks are clear: We must advance in unity as we mobilise the masses to build a caring national democratic society. Our National Democratic Revolution will not be halted" (ANC Today, 22-28 February 2008:3, 6). At the recent Polokwane Conference of the ANC this organisation's commitment to the NDR was confirmed once again, and matters such as poverty relief, job creation and greater social and economic equality were seen to be important priorities of the "Revolution". However, closer examination reveals that the NDR is apparently a direct consequence of complex ideological schools of thought as these are anchored within the broader framework of the philosophy and ideology of revolution; and adapted to distinctive South African political, economic and social circumstances. Political transformation and its underlying philosophy actually only represents a specific face or phase of the NDR and does not necessarily exclude other viewpoints, perspectives and strategies (historic or future). The following aspects need to be accentuated against this background: • The NDR defines the "religion" of the thinking of the National Democratic Movement (NDM=ANC and others) and is also the "leitmotif within the greater ideological framework. • The application thereof is often extremely pragmatic (situational) to keep pace with the distinctive South African context and changes within this context. • The NDR is the fundamental framework (paradigm of ratiocination) within which the "broad church" of the ANC thinks and reaches consensus over matters. (The Polokwane Conference was a striking example of exactly this!) • The application context of the NDR must constantly be reinterpreted to determine its success (or otherwise) and to link up with changing (read new) circumstances. (This is why STRATEGY AND TACTICS: are revised anew at each National Conference!) • Ideologically the NDR draws on complex thinking and tendencies regarding the theory and practice of revolution, for instance Classical Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism (especially the idea of "revolution from above") and Maoism as well as ratiocination pertaining to decolonisation and existentialism. • A huge number of Afrikaans-speaking people (including politicians and community leaders) have a very limited understanding of this way of thinking (or even no understanding at all) and therefore do not have the ability to interpret current policy and practice meaningfully and set up antipodes for this - where and if needed. With especially the last-mentioned aspect in mind, the aim of the present article is, firstly, to enable readers better to understand the NDR as the "hard core" of the ANC; and, secondly, to grasp the government's way of thinking as it pertains to South African politics, economy and the society. Although this presentation will touch on a number of strategic aspects of South African politics, it must not be confused with a strategic analysis of the macro-political environment and scenario analysis of the South African political situation. The primary aim is only to get a perspective on the soul of the National Democratic Movement and, in particular, of the ANC. The article focuses, inter alia, on the following: • Revolution as a concept and the application thereof within the framework of the NDR. • A structural analysis of the NDR. Unrestricted. • The dynamics of the NDR. • The future of the NDR.

Keywords : Revolution; National Democratic Revolution; National Democratic Movement; Social; Political and Economic Transformation; Political Transition; Thermidor Moderate; Jakobin Radical.

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