African National Congress

From Academic Kids

The African National Congress (ANC), a center-left political party was originally (until 1923)called the South African Native National Congress and has been South Africa's governing party (in a coalition) since the establishment of majority rule in May 1994. It was founded to defend the rights of the black majority on January 8, 1912 in the city of Bloemfontein, and counted first ANC president John Dube and poet and author Sol Plaatje among its founder members.

Loosely, it can also be described as the parliamentary wing of a tripartite alliance between itself, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

It has been the only party to rule South Africa since 1994. It lost some support in the 1999 elections, but subsequently gained support in 2004.



Formed initially by Albert Lutuli (a future Nobel Prize winner) and John Dube to oppose the passage of the 1913 Land Act, the ANC from its inception represented both traditional and modern elements, from tribal chiefs to church and community bodies and educated black professionals, though women were only admitted as affiliate members from 1931 and as full members in 1943.

Youth League

The formation of the ANC Youth League in 1944 by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Oliver Tambo heralded a new generation committed to building non-violent mass action against the legal underpinnings of the white minority's supremacy. In 1947 the ANC allied with the Natal Indian Congress and Transvaal Indian congress, broadening the basis of its opposition to the government.


The return of an Afrikaner-led National Party government by the overwhelmingly white electorate in 1948 signaled the advent of the policy of apartheid (Afrikaans for "separateness" , especially of the races, or political and social segregation of black and white people). During the 1950s non-whites were removed from electoral rolls, residence and mobility laws were tightened and political activities restricted.

Other struggle parties

In June 1952 the ANC joined with other anti-apartheid organisations in a Defiance Campaign against the restriction of political, labour and residential rights, during which protesters deliberately violated oppressive laws, following the example of Mohandas Gandhi's passive resistance in Natal and India. The campaign was called off in April 1953 after new laws prohibiting protest meetings.

In June 1955 the Congress of the People organised by the ANC and Indian, Coloured and white organisations at Kliptown near Johannesburg, adopted the Freedom Charter, henceforth the fundamental document of the anti-apartheid struggle with its demand for equal rights for all regardless of race. As opposition to the regime's policies continued, 156 leading members of the ANC and allied organisations were arrested in 1956: the resulting "Treason Trial" ended in their acquittal five years later.

In 1959, a number of members broke away from the ANC because they objected to the ANC's non-racist policies. They formed the rival Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), led by Robert Sobukwe.

Protest and banning

The ANC planned a campaign against the Pass Laws which required blacks to carry an identity card at all times to justify their presence in "white" areas, to begin on 31 March 1960. The PAC pre-empted the ANC by holding peaceful protests 10 days earlier, during which 69 protesters were killed and 180 injured by police fire in what became known as the Sharpeville Massacre.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, both organisations were banned from political activity. The ANC subsequently went underground and increased their violent protest actions to include terrorist operations.

International opposition to the regime increased throughout the 1950s and 1960s, fueled by the growing number of newly independent nations and the civil rights movement in the United States. In 1960, the leader of the ANC, Albert Luthuli, won the Nobel Peace Prize, a feat that would be repeated in 1993 by Nelson Mandela.

Umkhonto we Sizwe

Now underground or in exile, the ANC (National Executive Committee)leadership after differing opposing thoughts of opinion,realised and concluded that the methods of non-violence such as those utilised by Muhatma Gandhi,against the British Empire which had colonised India,South Asia,were not suitable against the harsh, brutal apartheid system.Military tactics had to be used,that primarily involved targeting and sabotaging the undemocratic and racist Apartheid Goverment's resources,with a philosophy of avoiding bloodshed at all costs,hence the military wing in the political resistance movement was formed in,and was called 1961 Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). Its commander, Mandela, was however arrested for terrorism in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964 on Robben Island along with Sisulu and other ANC leaders after the Rivonia Trial.

With apartheid ever more evidently untenable, the ANC and PAC were unbanned by president F.W. de Klerk on February 2, 1990.


In April 1994, in a tripartite coalition with the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the ANC won a landslide victory in the country's first non-racial elections under Nelson Mandela.

In Kwa-Zulu Natal the party was in an uneasy coalition with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on the 1994 and 1999 provincial elections. In the 2004 elections the IFP contested the province with the Democratic Alliance.

In 2004 the party contested national elections in voluntary coalition with the New National Party.

After the 1994 and 1999 elections, it ruled seven of the nine provinces, missing Kwa-Zulu Natal (to the IFP) and Western Cape Province (to the NNP). As of 2004 it gained Western Cape, and Kwa-Zulu Natal after a poor showing by the IFP.

By 2001, the tripartite alliance between the ANC, COSATU and SACP was showing signs of strain as the ANC moved to more liberal economic policies than its alliance partners were prepared to accommodate. The focus for dissent was Growth, Employment and Redistribution, or GEAR.

In late 2004 this was again thrown into sharp relief by Zwelinzima Vavi of COSATU, protesting the ANCs Zimbabwe policy of Quiet diplomacy and Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), which he complained benefits a favoured few in the black elite and not the masses.

Party List

Politicians in the party win a place in parliament by being on the Party List—drawn up before the elections, and enumerating, in order, the party's preferred MPs. Numbers of seats are allocated in proportion to the popular national vote, and the cut-off point is determined.


Bishop Desmond Tutu in his Nelson Mandela speech in 2004 criticized this system as discouraging debate and encouraging patronage within the party. He also singled out business deals that favor the recycled few in Black Empowerment deals instead of the poor majority.

The ANC is also accused of being complicit in or even inciting thousands of "farm murders" in an effort to scare off white farmers and hasten the process of land redistribution.

Another accusation frequently levelled against them is that they protect their high-ranking members in the face of controversy, and is seen as supporting criminal behaviour. Recent issues of this nature include the Schabir Shaik fraud trial linked to deputy president Jacob Zuma, and the sexual misconduct and criminal charges of Beaufort West municipal manager Truman Prince (see [1] (,,2-7-1442_1700232,00.html)).

Other sources of funding

In the late 1990s, the Saudi king Fahd gave the African National Congress US$50 million.

Key personalities within the ANC (listed alphabetically by surname)

Pre 1994: Dube, John; Mbeki, Thabo; Mandela, Nelson; Sisulu, Walter; Sobukwe, Robert; Tambo, Oliver

Post 1994: Mufamadi, Sydney; Mbeki, Thabo;

External links

es:Congreso Nacional Africano fr:Congrčs national africain id:Kongres Nasional Afrika it:African National Congress nl:Afrikaans Nationaal Congres nn:ANC pl:Afrykański Kongres Narodowy fi:ANC


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