Item 1331 - Notes for a speech by President Nelson Mandela at the ANC Organising Workshop

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ZA COM MR-S-1331


Notes for a speech by President Nelson Mandela at the ANC Organising Workshop


  • 1996-12-11 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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ANC Organising Workshop

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  • English

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1. It is with great pleasure that I address you today as you share problems and ideas; debate strategies; and work out a programme of action as ANC organisers from all over the country.

2. Our ANC organisers are the implementing arm of the organisation. Through you our strategies, plans and policies are communicated from the national level to branches and upwards.

3. Our key organisational challenge is to build and consolidate our branches, and that requires the effective functioning of all our organisers.

4. The importance of this Lekgotla cannot therefore be overstated. As the ANC we have achieved much over the past year. But with each new victory, come new challenges. This is the time and the place for ANC leaders and staff to strategise and develop a clear programme of action around these challenges.

Two and a half years of achievement in government

1. We have established legitimate government that is democratic and an effective instrument for change. We have made tremendous strides towards our goal of nation-building and reconciliation; and we have achieved much in the name of reconstruction and development. We have turned the economy decisively around. In short, we are successfully embarking on our task bringing about a better life for all the people of South Africa.

2. No-one can dispute that on all the major questions that South Africa has to address, our government has the best policies. But our greatest challenge now is not merely to develop good policies - it is to implement them. And for this to happen we need the active involvement of our communities led by the ANC structures working within those communities.

The importance of organisation

1. Transforming the state and achieving the priorities of the national democratic revolution require a strong and vibrant organisation with a large membership.

2. It also requires a core of activist cadres who understand the history of our movement in all its complexities; who grasp the challenges of an organization that continues to serve as a liberation movement.

3. Branches are essential in bringing about real change on the ground. Our branches need to develop programmes that are independent of government which at once, support and define the programmes of democratic government at all levels.

4. The only way in which we will achieve this is if our branches are properly serviced by our organising department and by our leadership.

Are we ready to meet the organisational challenges?

1. The question for us today must be whether our branches, in their present state, have the capacity to play this crucial role. In my recent visits to some of our provinces, I was appalled by the collapse or near-collapse of many of these important components of our organisation.

2. This workshop must be guided by a recognition of the serious consequences this state of branches can have for the ANC, whether it concerns the achievement of our goals for reconstruction and development or how we fare in the next elections.

3. We cannot afford the luxury of branches whose membership we cannot account for; branches whose last AGM was in 1994; branches that do not mobilise our communities around issues affecting them.

4. This workshop should be challenged by the fact that the turn-out of voters in the last local government elections was generally lower than expected, including, in some cases, in our best strongholds.

5. To what extent do these developments reflect on the effective functioning of our organisers at all levels ? Are we in fact functioning effectively as organisers ? If we do, what are our results?

6. Is the ANC growing and do we have well structured and organised formations of the ANC on the ground? Are ANC structures at all levels able to raise funds for the work of the organisation? If we are not as effective as we should be, what are the problems and what are we doing to address those problems?

7. This workshop will be just another talk-shop if it does not provide answers to these questions. And the answers you reach will be worth little if the decisions you take are not implemented.

Working together as departments

1. If as the ANC we are to continue to work coherently and consistently towards a common vision; if we are to effectively carry out the different tasks that will together meet our aims and goals, then it is essential that all departments work in an integrated fashion. The linkages between departments must be reinforced and developed in a coherent programme, that looks ahead to 1999 and beyond.

2. I wish to emphasise, in particular, the strategic link between the organising and political education departments. It is not enough to organise more members into the organisation, without providing these members with political education on basic ANC traditions, policy positions and our rich and proud history. This is an aspect this lekgotla must seriously interrogate.

3. Some of the internal tensions that plague the movement at all levels and in many parts of the country, can certainly be attributed to our failure to politically induct the new emerging layer of leadership as well as newly recruited members. In a sense, every organiser should see himself or herself as a political educator.

4. At the same time good organisation complements political education in building party unity and coherence. Our own history has shown that only when we are well organised can political and organisational imperatives triumph over personal ambitions. Only when we are well organised can we have a clear and united organisational voice that truly reflect the interest of our members. Only when we are well organised will we have capacity to mobilise our membership in strategic projects like elections; the RDP; Masakhane; anti-crime campaigns and many more such campaigns.


1 . As the ANC continues to advance as the leader in government it is important that we continually evaluate and assess what we do and strategise and plan accordingly.

2. In order to do this the NEC is to have a major Lekgotla in January to look at progress in the first half-term of democratic government, and identify problems that are to be addressed.

3. The organising department is central to this endeavour. In recognition of your central role, I wish you well in your deliberations. I encourage you to approach this lekgotla with energy and zeal. You are the life-line of the organisation.

4. Following that, go and rest! My best wishes to you over the Christmas season and let us re-assemble next year with vigour to build and strengthen the ANC: our hope; the hope of our people.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 27/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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