The political entrenchment of the African National Congress (ANC) as the ruling party in South Africa over the last two decades has given rise to an extensive literature focussing upon negative internal trends such as factionalism, the manipulation of internal electoral processes, the pursuit of individual wealth, internal disorder, and increasing tensions within the tripartite alliance. Such trends, along with growing levels of popular protest, suggest a decline in the party’s legitimacy and long term prospects. Such organisational deterioration has occasioned an extensive reflective literature, yet there has been little detailed research into how the ANC operates on the ground. Overwhelmingly, predominant paradigms - of the ANC as a national liberation movement; as a party that has fallen victim to neo-patrimonialism; as a dominant party; and as a vehicle of neo-liberal capitalism - are all illuminating, yet simultaneously entrench key weaknesses in analysis, focussing upon over-arching narratives rather than encouraging careful analysis of causal practices. Much of this flows from the fact that academic analysts lack practical and intuitive knowledge of the ANC’s institutional life, complexity and informal networks. The present collection seeks to correct that balance by presenting a set of papers which focus upon the dynamics of the ANC at sub-national level, pointing the way to a more critical engagement with party processes than is usually presented.