A radical second phase of the National Democratic Revolution – its context, content, and our strategic tasks


Introduction to the SACP’s 14th national congress position papers

‘To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter’: Karl Marx,

Dec 1843-Jan 1844; A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: Introduction

SA’s triple crisis – the immediate context of the call for a second radical phase of the NDR

Two decades beyond the critical 1994 democratic breakthrough our society remains af icted with crisis levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. This triple crisis has some cyclical features, re ecting the impact, for instance, of the 2008 global crisis on our own economy. But even during periods of relatively strong domestic growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s, crisis levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty persisted. Our core social and economic challenges are clearly deep-rooted and systemic – rather than the result of a temporary downturn. This means that our response cannot just be a question of waiting for, or seeking to stimulate an upturn in growth along the same path- dependent direction as in the past.

It was in this context that the necessity for a radical second phase of the NDR was debated and endorsed at the ANC’s National Policy Conference (June 2012) and formally adopted at the ANC’s Mangaung 53rd National Conference (December 2012). The resolutions of the Alliance Summit sought to give further content to the concept. The call for a second radical phase was also the overarching theme of President Zuma’s 2014 inauguration speech.

The triple crisis is re ected in rising popular discontent, a growing sense of alienation, frustration and sometimes despair amongst signi cant strata of the youth, the unemployed, the working poor, those in informal settlements, and the so-called “black middle class” (most of whom are working class professionals or self-employed and often struggling petty entrepreneurs). In short, the triple crisis is being felt acutely across a broad spectrum of the waged and unwaged popular strata. The unprecedented numbers of so-called “township service delivery protests”, and the lengthy and violent platinum belt strike are further symptoms of the impact of this crisis. Notwithstanding the ANC’s impressive May 2014 electoral majority, it is critical that we recognise there is a popular, but for the moment largely amorphous, groundswell of frustration – much of it currently beyond the reach of the ANC-alliance’s organisational and ideological influence.

This is the immediate context of the call for a second radical phase of the NDR as a programme that strategically combines state power and popular activism. But this call (this “narrative” about the way forward) is not the only “narrative” competing for hegemony in the current reality. Indeed, the perspective of a second radical phase of the NDR remains undeveloped. It is often poorly or confusingly explained, and other competing perspectives often enjoy greater prominence in the media and broader public domain.

This present intervention seeks to contribute to a collective discussion on the meaning, content and context of a second radical phase of the NDR.

Read the full congress documents at



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