Carol Paton Writer at Large

The political ructions in the ANC in the North West, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape over the past few weeks are a sobering reminder that Cyril Ramaphosa won his position as head of the ANC with only a 3% margin. They are also a reminder of the kind of party the ANC is becoming: although it projects itself as a national party with a united national programme, it increasingly reflects a federalised arrangement in which power is exercised through provincial and regional structures. The dispersed nature of power in the ANC means deals must constantly be brokered between the national leadership — in particular, the president — and the provincial barons who hold power. This movement towards provincialism is an inevitable result of two things: the national Constitution and the structure of the ANC. The Constitution conferred substantial powers on the provinces and gave them control of important areas of government with big budgets. Also, because of the proportional representation votin...

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