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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Being a 'movement of the people' and a governing party: study of the African National Congress mass character
Author:Darracq, VincentISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:African National Congress (South Africa)
party structure
government parties
political parties
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070802038090
Abstract:This article analyses the mass character of the African National Congress (ANC). The ANC claims to be a mass movement and displays several features that undeniably make it a mass party, in political scientific terms. However, its presence on the ground is uneven; numerous local branches are not really active and do not have a strong impact in their communities. The accession to power in 1994 and the subsequent 'normalization' of politics were turning points. ANC branches have been affected by insufficient party political education and organizational work and the downgrading of mass activity in the ANC management of governance. Moreover, because of the dynamics of the ANC being the ruling party, the ANC's local structures, like the organization as a whole, struggle to participate actively in the definition of the government's agenda; the party in public office increasingly gains ascendancy. However, the mass character still plays a role. When party officials are divided over policy or leadership issues, membership becomes a trump card for competing factions, through the democratic practices of delegation which empowers intermediary brokers (especially provincial officers). Moreover, the reassertion of the mass character of the movement is a prominent issue in the current crisis in the ANC and the Triple-Alliance over the presidential succession. Some quarters within the movement are pushing for a reaffirmation of the ANC's mass character and of the ANC structures as a whole towards the party in public office. The ANC's National Congress in December 2007 was a very revealing and important moment in these struggles. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]