Hegemonic Struggles of the African National Congress: From Cacophony of Morbid Symptoms to Strained Renewal

Susan Booysen


The contemporary condition of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, viewed through the lens of hegemony and by means of four sets of correlates of decline and potential renewal, reveals an organisation that has turned away from lethal decline, yet by 2018 was battling to reconstitute a powerful, united historical bloc to underpin a new hegemony. The assessment is executed across the outward fronts of the ANC in relation to the people, the state, and elections, and on the inward side, the ANC organisationally. The ANC, up to late 2017, had undergone a process of hegemonic decline that appeared irreversible. Manifold morbid symptoms of hegemonic decline were evident. In late 2017 the ANC secured a leadership change that held the potential to reverse the decline and reinvigorate the ANC’s prospects for hegemonic hold, even if at best it would be a long-term, incremental process. Yet, at the centre, the organisation remained riven with factionalism that pivoted around power and control over public resources; those entrenched in the status quo ante were fighting back, and the new order was struggling to emerge. By drawing together these symptoms (correlates) of decline and possible reversals, the article synthesises the state of ANC hegemony as the movement approaches 25 years in political power.

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