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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The root of the matter: scenes from an ANC branch
Author:Dlamini, JacobISNI
Periodical:African Studies (ISSN 1469-2872)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:African National Congress (South Africa)
political participation
party structure
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00020181003647280
Abstract:The election of Jacob Zuma as ANC president at the organization's fifty-second national conference in Polokwane (South Africa) in 2007 has been described, by sections of the media especially, as a triumph of ordinary members over a leadership that had grown distant, aloof and arrogant under Thabo Mbeki. It has been said that branch members, who made up ninety percent of the delegates at the conference as per the dictates of the ANC constitution, reclaimed the ANC from a technocratic and self-serving elite and thus reconnected the organization to its popular base. This article uses a microscopic study of an ANC branch in Katlehong, a township twenty kilometres east of Johannesburg, to examine the way a branch operates. Using the 'extended case study' method plus 'ethnographic thick description' adopted by Andrea Cornwall in her work on Brazil's health councils, the study examines episodes in the life of the branch in question. It calls into question the valorization of ANC branches post-Polokwane. It concludes by calling for a more critical appreciation of the gap between assumptions about the democratic and rooted nature of ANC branches, and 'the understandings and practices of the actors' that inhabit those branches. Bibliogr., ref., sum. [Journal abstract]