The African National Congress comes home

Lodge, Tom
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Two years of legal existence have enabled the ANC to acquire 900 branches, 500 000 signed-up members, a 20-storey office block in central Johannesburg, a fresh leadership, a democratic constitution, an elaborate administration, and an annual income which in 1990 topped R90-million. Its homecoming is consequently a story of considerable if uneven achievement. In February 1990, the ANC's leaders were suddenly confronted with the challenge of adapting an authoritarian and secretive movement formed by the harsh exigencies of exile to the requirements of a South African environment shaped by the tumultuous politics of the 1980s. Two years later, the process of changing the ANC into an organisation geared to open and democratic forms of popular mobilisation is far from complete. In 1992 the ANC still struggles to absorb and reconcile the experiences of three generations of leadership: the elderly veterans who emerged from decades of confinement on Robben Island; the middle-aged managers of an insurgent bureaucracy; and, finally, the youthful architects of the most sustained and widespread rebellion in South African history. ... To understand what the ANC has become in 1992, it is essential to know what kind of organisation it was in 1990. One way of doing this is through investigating its institutional structures and internal procedures. This is the approach which characterises most studies of the exile ANC during the 1980s. This literature depicts a most intricate and elaborate organisation which can be represented as an embryonic state - a ‘government-in-waiting’. It resembled a state in several respects.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 8 June 1992
African National Congress