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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The lack of internal party democracy in the African National Congress: a threat to the consolidation of democracy in South Africa
Author:Lotshwao, KebapetseISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:African National Congress (South Africa)
party structure
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070903313244
Abstract:The lack of internal democracy within the African National Congress (ANC) is a threat to the consolidation of South African democracy. The ANC has leadership elections but few other elements of internal party democracy. There is a centralized style of leadership in which the National Executive Committee (NEC) or even individual leaders dominate decisionmaking to the exclusion of the membership and lower party structures, and there is still an adherence to Leninist principles such as 'democratic centralism' and the need for 'absolute party discipline' on the part of party members. Coupled with an intolerance of debate and dissent by the leadership, these features stifle debate of important issues and policies. Thus, bad decisions by the leadership cannot be checked within the party before becoming public policy. Since lower structures and the general membership are deprived of an opportunity to influence public policies, the government in some instances becomes unresponsive to the people's needs. Democratic centralism and the absolute party discipline required from ANC members deployed in various State institutions, especially parliament, weakens their ability to provide oversight over the executive or influence public policy that contradicts the party line. The executive is thus left unchecked and virtually free to act as it wishes where the institution of accountability is ANC-dominated. Instead of consolidating democracy, these factors could lead, eventually, to the gradual decay of liberal democracy in South Africa. Whilst multiparty democracy might well continue to exist, such democracy could be of low quality, particularly with regard to government responsiveness and accountability, given the overwhelming dominance of the ANC. Thus, internal democracy within the ANC is a prerequisite for the consolidation of South African democracy. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]