South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), has undergone dramatic changes over the last thirty years. Historically a hotbed of political activism, Port Elizabeth is an illuminating site. In 2016, observers greeted with shock the ANC’s loss of the city, one of its crown jewels and a party stronghold. Yet, as this book shows through its analysis of power and politics in Port Elizabeth, the party’s political decline was authored by its own hand.
In Anatomy of the ANC in Power, the author presents an intimate portrait of the ANC at a local level over a 28-year period and one that informs what is now playing out at a national level. The book traces four stages that characterise the party’s post-1990 life in Port Elizabeth: rebuilding; ascension to political office; political decline; and adaptation to new contexts where its power was lost or is under threat.
This evidence-based book is an enthralling account of how the ANC rebuilt itself into a governing organisation, but failed to cohere into an institution of democracy, becoming instead an amalgam of competing factions for patronage. Readers will judge how much Port Elizabeth is a microcosm of the entire ANC.
Acronyms and abbreviations
- Rebuilding and path to power
- Adapting to political office
- ‘You keep your Standard House; I’ll keep my City Hall’
- The decline begins, 2006–2012
- Pseudo reforms: Concealment of malfeasance and interference at City Hall, 2013–2014
- Ukufa kusembhizeni – The enemy lies within!
- Latshon’ ilang’ emini – Sunset at midday
- From incumbency to opposition and back: A return to infamy
About the author