Since 1994 the South African state has been governed through an Alliance of the
African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party (SACP) and
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Whilst each of these organisations
claims autonomy and independence, it shares a common history and core ideological
persuasions which has been articulated as the National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
Whilst ANC members may not necessarily be members of the SACP or COSATU,
any member of the SACP or COSATU who desires to enter politics is required to
be a member of the ANC. The SACP and COSATU do not contest elections. As part
of the agreement, only the ANC contests elections and as such leads the Alliance.
This has led to a number of challenges, specifi cally related to public administration.
This article describes the nature of the tripartite alliance by considering the historical
roots of the alliance itself and its performance in government; and by concluding that
there is an understanding of the leadership role of the ANC within the Alliance. The
ANC itself is a refl ection of the broad church nature of such an Alliance.
Irrespective of this convergence of ideology, there is periodic divergence on the
leadership role of the ANC viz a viz that of the Alliance as the strategic centre for
policy and governance issues. However, the ANC has, over the years, successfully
challenged this assertion and, through practice, has led the Alliance in a politically
driven manner that is predicated on consultation, due diligence and functional
purpose. However, any member of the SACP or COSATU who desires to be part of
Parliament or the executive is required to be a member of the ANC. While COSATU
and the SACP provide advice, through Alliance structures, on the deployment of
cadres in the public service, the deployment committee is an ANC structure and the
fi nal decisions with regard to deployment, resides with the ANC.