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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

African National Congress
Leader Jacob Zuma
Founded 8 January 1912
Headquarters Luthuli House
54 Sauer Street
Ideology Democratic socialism, Social democracy
International affiliation Socialist International[1]
Official colours Black, Green, Gold
National Assembly members 264
Politics of South Africa
Political parties
Deputy President
Council of Provinces
National Assembly
Constitutional Court

The African National Congress (ANC) has been South Africa's governing party, supported by its tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), since the establishment of non-racial democracy in April 1994. It defines itself as a "disciplined force of the left".[2] Members founded the organization as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) on 8 January 1912 in Bloemfontein to increase the rights of the black South African population. John Dube, its first president, and poet and author Sol Plaatje are among its founding members. The organization became the ANC in 1923 and formed a military wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) in 1961.

It has been the ruling party of post-apartheid South Africa on the national level since 1994. It gained support in the 1999 elections, and further increased its majority in 2004, with 69.7% of the votes. In 2009 its share of the vote reduced slightly, but it remained the dominant party with 65.9% of the votes.



The founding of the ANC follows nearly three centuries of oppression of black South Africans by white South Africans and foreigners. It can be said that the ANC had its origins in a pronouncement by Pixley ka Isaka Seme who said in 1911 Forget all the past differences among Africans and unite in one national organisation. The ANC was founded in the subsequent year on 8 January 1912.

The government of the newly formed Union of South Africa began a systematic oppression of black people in South Africa. The notorious Land Act was promulgated in 1913. The effect of these antiblack laws was to force black people from their farms into the cities and towns to work, and to restrict their movement within South Africa. By 1919, the ANC led a campaign against passes, and in 1929 the ANC supported a militant mineworkers' strike.

The ANC became dormant in the mid-1926s. During that time, black people were also represented by the ICU and the previously white-only Communist party. By 1947, J.T. Gumende (president of the ANC) proposed cooperation with the Communists in a bid to revitalise the organisation, but he was voted out of power in the 1930s. This led to the ANC becoming largely ineffectual and inactive, until the mid-1940s when the ANC was remodelled as a mass movement.

  • The ANC responded militarily to the attacks on the rights of black people.
  • The beginning of greater cooperation between African people, Coloured and Indian people.
  • 1944: Youth League (YL) (Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo). Their ideas were based on African nationalism and they utilised this idea to involve masses into military struggles.
    • they gathered support among the new population
    • program of action calling for strikes, boycotts and defiance
    • the organisation was adopted by the ANC in 1949 and this led to a later Defiance Campaign in the 1950s
The Defiance Campaign was a mass movement of resistance to apartheid
  • It encouraged further campaigns against apartheid laws.
  • The government tried to stop them by banning party leaders and enacting new laws to stop them; however, it was too late as the movement had acquired too much power.
  • Formation of new organisations such as SACPO and the COD.
  • Congress of the people: this was a congress of all the people of South Africa. They demanded a New South Africa and these ideas were expressed in the Freedom Charter (26 June 1955).
  • The government claimed that this was a communist's document—consequently leaders of the ANC and Congress were arrested.
  • 1955 Women’s strike.
  • Blacks and Whites brought together in the fight for justice and democracy, consequently Africanists broke away from the ANC.
  • The Sharpeville Massacre: this led to the end of the peaceful strike and peaceful protests.
ANC goes underground
  • Many acts of sabotage.
  • Military training for ANC members outside the country.
  • 1969: A consultative conference at Morogoro led to four aspects of all around struggle.
    • Mass political struggle.
    • Armed struggle.
    • Building ANC underground structures within the country.
    • Campaign for international support and assistance.
  • Non-African membership of the ANC.
  • As a result of banning the liberation movement the apartheid system grew stronger again until 1970s.
  • Students and Workers changed the face of South Africa.
    • 1973 strike of workers in Durban.
    • 1976 student anger exploded, ANC supported student struggles for national liberation.
New heights of liberation struggles came in the 1980s.
  • People taking over the situation in communities, workplaces and at schools etc.
  • Strong demand for political power.
  • 1976 reforms were introduced to apartheid for the first time.
  • The government enacted new reforms and repressions and in hope that this would win the hearts and minds of Blacks, but it led to even greater resistance.
  • Women Workers Students and Youths organisations make a major step forward from 1985 when the state of emergency was called.[3]

Umkhonto we Sizwe

Umkhonto we Sizwe ("Spear of the Nation"), abbreviated to MK, was the military wing of the ANC. Partly in response to the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, individual members of the ANC found it necessary to resort to violence. Though some members of ANC's leadership disagreed[citation needed], many members within the organisation decided that non-violent campaigns were not working. Some few members of the ANC were not comfortable with the MK arrangement[citation needed], but individuals, such as Nelson Mandela, felt guerrilla warfare had to be considered. In cooperation with the South African Communist Party, MK was founded in 1961.[4]. Innoccent people were gunned down in churches, people 'necklaced' and bombs planted by this terrorist group.


The ANC deems itself as a force of national liberation in the post-apartheid era; it officially defines its umbrella agenda as the National Democratic Revolution. The ANC is a member of the Socialist International.[1] It also sets forth the redressing of socioeconomic differences stemming from colonial- and apartheid-era policies which discriminated against non-whites, such as land, housing and job distributions, as a central focus of ANC policy.

The National Democratic Revolution (NDR) is described as a process through which the National Democratic Society (NDS) is achieved; a society in which people are intellectually, socially, economically and politically empowered. The drivers of the NDR are also called the motive forces and are defined as the elements within society that gain from the success of the NDR. Using contour plots or concentric circles the centre represents the elements in society that gain the most out of the success of the NDR. Moving away from the centre results in the reduction of the gains that those elements derive. It is generally believed that the force that occupies the centre of those concentric circles in countries with low unemployment is the working class while in countries with higher levels of unemployment it is the unemployed. Some of the many theoreticians that have written about the NDR include Joe Slovo, Joel Netshitenzhe and Tshilidzi Marwala.[5][6][7]

Tripartite Alliance

The ANC holds a historic alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), known as the Tripartite Alliance. The SACP and COSATU have not contested any election in South Africa, but field candidates through the ANC, hold senior positions in the ANC, and influence party policy and dialogue. During Mbeki's presidency, the government took a more pro-capitalist stance, often running counter to the demands of the SACP and COSATU.[8][9][10][11]

2008 schism

Following Zuma's accession to the ANC leadership in 2007 and Mbeki's resignation as president in 2008, the Mbeki faction of former ministers led by Mosiuoa Lekota split away from the ANC to form the Congress of the People.

ANC flag

Flag of the African National Congress

The ANC flag is composed of three stripes – black, green and gold.[12] The black represents the color of the people, the green the fertility of the land and the gold represents the gold with which the country is rich. This flag was also the battle flag of the Umkhonto we Sizwe. The official party flag also has the emblem of the party incorporated onto the flag.

Party list

Politicians in the party win a place in parliament by being on the Party List, which is drawn up before the elections and enumerates, in order, the party's preferred MPs. The number of seats allocated is proportional to the popular national vote, and this determines the cut-off point.

The ANC has also gained members through the controversial floor crossing process.

Although most South African parties announced their candidate list for provincial premierships in the 2009 election, the ANC did not. It is not required for parties to do so.[13]

Election results

Proportion of votes cast for the ANC in the 2009 election, by ward.      0–20%      20–40%      40–60%      60–80%      80–100%
Election Votes % Seats
2009 11,650,748 65.90 264
2004 10,880,915 69.69 279
1999 10,601,330 66.35 266
1994 12,237,655 62.65 252

Role of the ANC in resolving the conflict

The ANC represented the main opposition to the government during apartheid and therefore they played a major role in resolving the conflict through participating in the peacemaking and peace-building processes. Initially intelligence agents of the National Party met in secret with ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, to judge whether conflict resolution was possible.[14] Discussions and negotiations took place leading to the eventual unbanning of the ANC and other opposing political parties by then President de Klerk on 2 February 1990. These initial meetings were the first crucial steps towards resolution.

The next official step towards rebuilding South Africa was the Groote Schuur Minute where the government and the ANC agreed on a common commitment towards the resolution of the existing climate of violence and intimidation from whatever quarter, as well as a commitment to stability and to a peaceful process of negotiations. The ANC negotiated the release of political prisoners and the indemnity from prosecution for returning exiles and moreover channels of communication were established between the Government and the ANC.

Later the Pretoria Minute represented another step towards resolution where agreements at Groote Schuur were reconsolidated and steps towards setting up an interim government and drafting a new constitution were established as well as the symbolic suspension of the military wing of the ANC – the Umkhonto we Sizwe. This represented a stop to direct violence within South Africa. Another agreement that came out of the Pretoria minute was that both parties would try and raise awareness that a New Order was underway and that the violence must stop. However violence still continued in Kwazulu-Natal, which violated the trust between Mandela and de Klerk. Moreover internal disputes in the ANC prolonged the war as consensus on peace was not reached.[15]

The next significant steps towards resolution were the Repeal of the Population Registration Act – this meant no one could claim, or be deprived of rights on the basis of racial classification, the repeal of the Group Areas and the Native Land Acts and a catch-all Abolishment of Racially Based Measures Act was passed.[15]

In December 1991 the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) was held with the aim of establishing a interim government. However a few months later in June 1992 the Boipatong massacre occurred and all negotiations crumbled as the ANC pulled out. After this negotiations proceeded between two agents, Cyril Ramaphosa of the ANC, and Roelf Meyer of the National Party. In over 40 meetings the two men discussed and negotiated over many issues including the nature of the future political system, the fates of over 40,000 current government employees and how the country was going to be divided. Cyril Ramaphosa dominated the negotiations, as he was far more apt at negotiation having worked as union leader in the mines, than Roelf Meyer, who had been unchallenged for the past three decades. The result of these negotiations was an interim constitution that meant the transition from apartheid to democracy was a constitutional continuation and that the rule of law and state sovereignty remained intact during the transition, which was vital for stability within the country. A date was set for the first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.[15] The ANC won 62.5% of the votes and has been in power ever since.[16]


Terrorism and violence

During its days in exile, the ANC was often criticised by western governments who shared the South African government's characterization of the group as a terrorist organization. Several high-profile anti-Apartheid activists such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu criticized the ANC for its willingness to resort to violence, arguing that tactics of non-violent resistance, such as civil disobedience were more productive. The ANC's willingness to ally with Communists was also the subject of both foreign and domestic criticism. A Pentagon report of the late 1980s described the ANC as "a major terrorist organization".

Party and state conflict

The ANC has been heavily criticized for awarding large state contracts, involving tens of billions of Rands, to its party funding vehicle, Chancellor House. At times, the decision to award the contract was made by the same state employees who sit on the ANC fundraising committee. Chancellor House is named after Mandela's former work premises.

The ANC was also criticized for the setting up of a formal scheme whereby businessmen and members of the public could buy "face time" with various government ministers, with the costs ranging R3,000 to R7,000 for an individual and R12,500 to R60,000 for businesses. The scheme is run from the ANC headquarters, Luthuli House (formerly Shell House), with all money going to the party.

In September 2009, the Provincial ANC in KwaZulu Natal was implicated by the social movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, the South African Council of Churches, the Anglican Archbishop, and over 1,000 members of civil society in the coordinated attacks on Kennedy Road informal settlement.[17][18][19][20] MEC Willies Mchunu was heavily criticised for arresting members of Abahlali baseMjondolo but allegedly not arresting the people who perpetrated the attack. The KwaZulu Natal government has refused to heed calls for an independent investigation into the violence saying that the attack was the result of an illegitimate safety forum.[21][22][23][24] Amnesty International and other human rights organisations have supported calls for an independent inquiry into the violence.[25]

Controversy over corrupt members

Another accusation frequently levelled at the ANC is that they protect their high-ranking members in the face of controversy, and as such are seen as supporting criminal behaviour. The most prominent corruption case involving the ANC relates to a series of bribes paid to companies involved in the ongoing R55 billion Arms Deal saga, which resulted in a long term jail sentence to former Deputy President Jacob Zuma's legal adviser Schabir Shaik. Zuma, now the State president elect, currently faces 783 charges relating to alleged fraud, bribery and corruption in the Arms Deal.[26] The ANC has also been criticised for its subsequent abolishment of the Scorpions, the multidisciplinary agency that investigated and prosecuted organised crime and corruption, and was heavily involved in the investigation into Zuma and Shaik.

Other recent corruption issues include the sexual misconduct and criminal charges of Beaufort West municipal manager Truman Prince,[27] and the Oilgate scandal, in which millions of Rand in funds from a state-owned company were allegedly funneled into ANC coffers.[28] Links between factions in the ANC, specifically the ANC Youth League leadership, and businessman Brett Kebble gained media attention following Kebble's murder in September 2005.

In December 2007 the ANC elected their new National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest structure in the party. Out of the 80 member committee, 9% are (post-apartheid) convicted criminals. Most of these members have been convicted of fraud, while one member, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, was convicted of the kidnapping of a 14-year-old boy (who was also murdered). According to an article in the Mail & Guardian, "by adding those who have been disciplined or moved, and those with dark clouds of unanswered questions hanging over their heads, the figure shifts to 29%."[29]

The ANC has also been accused of using government and civil society to fight its political battles against opposition parties such as the Democratic Alliance. The result has been a number of complaints and allegations that none of the political parties truly represent the interests of the poor.[30][31] This has resulted in the "No Land! No House! No Vote!" Campaign which becomes very prominent each time the country holds elections.[32][33]

See also


  1. ^ a b Mapekuka, Vulindlela (November 2007). "The ANC and the Socialist International". Umrabulo (African National Congress) 30. 
  2. ^ "ANC Party Declaration". the African National Congress. Retrieved 15 May 2008. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Slovo, Joe. "The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution". 
  6. ^ Netshitenzhe, Joel. "Understanding the tasks of the moment". Umrabulo 25. 
  7. ^ Marwala, T. "The anatomy of capital and the national democratic revolution". Umrabulo 29. 
  8. ^ "ANC 'At Fork in the Road'". 05/08/2007. 
  9. ^ "How the Tripartite Alliance works". Mayibuye 2 (3). 1991. 
  10. ^ McKinley, Dale (2003). COSATU and the Tripartite Alliance since 1994. 
  11. ^ Ngonyama, Percy (16 October 2006). "The ideological differences within the Tripartite Alliance: What now for the left?". 
  12. ^ "The Flag of the African National Congress". African National Congress. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b c Ross, Robert (1999). A concise history of South Africa. Cambridge University Press. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "'Attackers associated with ANC'". News24. 
  18. ^ "Joint Statement on the attacks on the Kennedy Road Informal Settlement in Durban". Professor John Dugard SC, et al. 
  19. ^ "Open letter to Jacob Zuma". Friends of the Kennedy Road Development Committee. 
  20. ^ "Academics condemn attack on settlement". BusinessDay. 
  21. ^ "An Open Letter to Jacob Zuma". Friends of the Kennedy Road Development Committee. 
  22. ^ "Call for solidarity among shack dwellers". Mercury. 
  23. ^ "Kennedy Road truth being hidden". BusinessDay. 
  24. ^ [_id=29985 "< Go Back The Kennedy Road Informal Settlement controversy: Why an independent inquiry is essential"]. The KZN Witness.[_id]=29985. 
  25. ^ [1] Failure to conduct impartial investigation into Kennedy Road violence is leading to further human rights abuses, Amnesty International, 16 December 2009
  26. ^ "Opposition hails challenge to ANC rule". 9 October 2008. 
  27. ^ Bester, Ronel (5 May 2005). "Action against Prince 'a farce'". Die Burger.,,2-7-1442_1700232,00.html. 
  28. ^ "Special Report: Oilgate". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 2007-04-27. 
  29. ^ "ANC rogues' gallery". Mail & Guardian. 
  30. ^ "DA councillor's role in Delft is 'criminal'". Cape Argus. 2008-02-20. 
  31. ^ "DA's Delft councillor denies claims". Cape Argus. 2008-02-28. 
  32. ^ "The 'No Land, No House, No Vote' campaign still on for 2009". Abahlali baseMjondolo. 5 May 2005. 
  33. ^ "IndyMedia Presents: No Land! No House! No Vote!". Anti-Eviction Campaign. 2005-12-12. 

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