ANC Political Education program

From: Andy Blunden (
Date: Sun Aug 29 2004 - 03:02:34 PDT

Below is a document drafted for a local ANC branch in South Afrcia, on
Political Education. The author has given permission for me to share this
on the XMCA list for the purpose of getting advice from sympathetic,
professional educators. Any comments would be most welcome and can be sent


"Dear Comrade Phil,

Here below is my draft Plan of Action for Political Education in the
branch. I hope you will read it and let me know what you think. Please feel
free to pass it on to the other comrades involved. Then we can fix a time
to meet and agree on or amend this part of the branch POA, ready for
adoption at the next BEC on September 14, which will give us about two
months and a half to start implementing the plan before the Christmas
holidays begin.

Best wishes,


African National Congress.

Draft Programme of Action for Onica Mashigo Branch

Political Education Section*

*Includes Information, Cadre Development, and Recruitment.

Political Education is one of a number of areas of work identified by the
branch at its BEC on August 26, 2004. The others include Housing (with
Billing, Crime & Security, and other matters having to do with residents as
such); Economic Development (with Poverty, Funding, Labour, Domestics);
Social Services; and Sports & Recreation.

What is the purpose of Political Education?

The main purpose of political education is to prepare cadres who can do the
work of the movement.

As soon as a leadership is formed it begins to deplete, because comrades
are deployed to higher structures. Others move away. For these reasons the
branch needs to generate a steady stream of new cadres who are ready to
take up the leadership and administration of the branch.

When political education is carried out consistently, it also becomes a way
of recruiting new members. Ordinary citizens may be persuaded to attend
classes, even though they might not be ready to pay a membership fee and
join the ANC. So education classes can act as a stepping stone for smooth
entry into the ANC.

Gathering the membership and friends in local areas for the purpose of
political education will also make it easier to launch sub-branches in
those areas based on the students of political education.

Through regular and frequent political education gatherings a lot of
information can be distributed about branch activities (BGMs and campaigns).

What form does Political Education take?

Because Political Education is intended to contribute to change in the
world, it must take the form of a dialogue between people.

The "bucket-and-tap" form of presentation, where students are buckets
and the teacher is a tap, is no good for the purpose of Political Education.

Therefore the form of Political Education is as follows:

   1.. There is a short text. This is given so as to focus dialogue around
a particular topic.
   2.. There is no lecturer. One of the students has the task of opening
the discussion. For the remainder of the session (total time of the session
is one and a half hours) the participants discuss.
   3.. There is a chairperson. The job of the chairperson is to encourage
all participants to join in. The participants are supposed to become
political cadres. Therefore they cannot afford to be shy when talking about
politics, and still less so when they are safe among their own comrades.
The chairperson encourages and protects them.
   4.. The process is almost completely self-sustaining. It requires next
to no inputs from above: no funding, no prescription, no infrastructure, no
supervision, no report-backs, no cost. It requires somebody to get some
suitable texts and to distribute them with invitations to attend at a venue
and time, according to a schedule. The biggest difficulty is preparing and
updating a database and communicating regularly with the people on the list
(see below).


This draft POA proposes that Political Education classes are commenced in
one chosen locality, with a view to the creation of a Sub-branch in that
locality, which can continue the work in due course by itself.

Political Education classes will be commenced in the different areas of the
Ward until the whole ward is covered with Sub-branches and their political
education classes.

The areas of the Ward are Kew East, North and South; Bramley; Lombardy
East; Lombardy West; River Park; Glenhazel; Lyndhurst.

This POA proposes commencing in Lombardy East where a sub-branch
historically has existed, and then to Lyndhurst and Glenhazel, using if
possible the proposed ANC branch office.

The general plan is to consolidate in one area before moving to another.
This will be a managed process requiring oversight and periodical review by
the BEC.


The choice of day is between a week day evening, a Saturday morning, a
Saturday afternoon, a Sunday morning, and a Sunday afternoon.

Duration of classes should be one and a half hours.

This POA recommends in principle a weekday evening, from six to seven-thirty.


A free venue is preferred. If a public venue is not available, then
comrades' houses will have to be used. In Lombardy East we can use the
Club, and Glenhazel and Lyndhurst can both be served by the proposed branch


The database (list) of people who will receive regular invitations to the
study group must be prepared with the help of the branch, in the first
place. It will be extended to include friends and interested members of the
public in the area.
The study group therefore becomes a bridge between the general public as
constituents, and the membership of the ANC, across which people will pass
from non-membership to membership, and from shy beginner to full participant.


The success of the study group depends on the regular issue of invitations
and texts. The branch can help with texts (see below), but a study group,
to be self-sustaining, should preferably be convened by somebody who is
part of the study group. The more dedicated this person is, the better.


The question of what texts to put in front of a group is not the most
critical one. The requirement is that the text must be sufficient to
generate dialogue of a political nature between the participants. There
must be no sense of indoctrination or drilling involved. There should
probably be a good mixture in the first place between classic political
texts, on the one hand, and current documents and even journalism. There
should be no sense of sectarian division between the Alliance Partners.

There should be no attempt to insist on the use of particular texts. Wide
freedom should be allowed to any study group to use any text it wishes. It
should be regarded as a sign of the maturity of any particular study group,
that it has preferences and particular interests it wishes to pursue. In
practice, however, study groups will require to be given the material from
which they will take their choices of topics, at least at the beginning.

Study groups in general, however, would always be well advised to devote an
early session or two to the question of why they are there, and how they
will work. For example, they could discuss this document. At a session
early in their series they should probably discuss something like Chapter
Two of Paulo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed". It is necessary that
they apply their minds to what they are trying to achieve, and why.

The study group has no standing in the democracy of the ANC. It does not
elect delegates or vote on motions. As a result it is free from any
requirement of coming to decisions or conclusions. Therefore it is not
concerned to arrive at any line, orthodox or otherwise. It opens up matters
for discussion, bringing them to the attention of participants. It is the
other, higher, structures of the ANC that will come to conclusions and make
decisions for action.


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