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African National Congress

African National Congress

BIBLIOGRAPHY

The origins of the African National Congress (ANC) were a conference of black South African notables assembled in 1912 to protest impending legal restrictions on African land ownership. Until the 1940s, the ANC remained decorously circumspect: lobbying, submitting memorandums, and relying heavily on white liberal intermediaries. During World War II (1939-1945), the ANC began to build a mass membership structure and attempted to mobilize popular support by contesting local advisory board elections in black townships. By this time, several of its leaders were also members of the Communist Party. Communists had initially concentrated on winning white worker support but switched their efforts to blacks in the 1ate 1920s.

Within the ANC, both communists and a group of young self-professed Africanists who formed a Youth League helped to influence the ANC to embrace more aggressive tactics. It adopted in 1949 a Program of Action calling for strikes, boycotts, and civil disobedience as means toward a goal of African self-determination. The ANCs radicalization coincided with the accession to government of the (Afrikaner) National Party (NP). In power, Afrikaner nationalists began to tighten and extend racial segregation policies. In practice, the NPs apartheid policies sought to confine black participation in the urban economy to unskilled and semiskilled labor.

The Communist Party was banned in 1950. Thereafter its members would work within the ANC. Communist influence as well as older liberal traditions instilled by the Methodist schools that trained most African political leaders ensured that although the ANC itself remained an exclusively African body, it defined its program on a broader basis. It sought allies in the Indian Congress movement, founded in Natal by Mohandas Gandhi in 1894, and in 1952 encouraged the establishment of a Congress of Democrats for white sympathizers.

The ANCs Freedom Charter, adopted in 1956, referred to a democratic future in which all races would enjoy equal rights. In 1952 a Defiance Campaign against new apartheid laws failed to win any concessions but succeeded in swelling membership to 100,000. Six subsequent years of mass-based militant resistance helped to convince a number of ANC principals, including its patrician but popular deputy president, Nelson Mandela, that the organization had exhausted the available options of peaceful protest. A breakaway movement, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), formed in 1959 as a more radical alternative. The Pan-Africanists emphasized African racial identity and criticized the role of the Communist Party in watering down the ANCs nationalist predispositions. In fact, the Communist Partys influence was most evident in the mild socialism of the Freedom Charter. In 1960 the PAC committed itself to resisting the pass laws. In Sharpeville on March 21, outside Vereeniging, police were confronted by a crowd of five thousand people, and the tense standoff culminated with the police firing and killing eighty. In the national tumult that followed, the government banned both the PAC and the ANC. The ANC reconstituted itself underground and in 1961 formed an armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation). In 1963 Umkhontos high command was arrested and most of its members sentenced to life imprisonment for their leadership of a sabotage campaign.

For the next thirty years, under the leadership of Mandelas close professional associate and friend, fellow exYouth Leaguer and attorney Oliver Tambo, the ANC would base itself in Dar es Salaam and Lusaka. Only in the mid-1970s could it begin rebuilding its clandestine organization in South Africa. In exile, the ANC strengthened its alliance with the Communist Party, and in stages between 1969 and 1985 it opened its ranks to whites, Indians, and coloreds (in South Africa, any person of mixed racial descent). Survival in exile required discipline and authority, and communist organizational models were influential. Today, Leninist tenets of democratic centralism remain in the organizations constitution. After 1976, ANC guerrillas succeeded in attracting public attention with bold attacks on symbolic targets. So-called armed propaganda brought the ANC considerable public support both in South Africa and internationally, though Umkhontos campaigning hardly represented a serious military threat to white security.

Meanwhile a charismatic cult developed around the imprisoned leaders on Robben Island, especially Nelson Mandela. Mandelas stature was a key factor in achieving for the ANC the degree of recognition or acceptance it enjoyed outside communist countries: By the late 1980s meetings between its leaders and Western statesmen served to underline its status as a government in waiting. The military command structure controlled the destinies of most of the refugees who joined the ANC after 1976. In this part of the organization communists were especially powerful.

However, around its foreign missions and its own educational establishment the ANC began to foster a group with administrative and technical skills, many of its members the recipients of U.S. and western European higher educations. Members of this group began to develop policy blueprints for a post-apartheid liberal democracy. From within this community the ANC also began to make the first cautious moves toward a negotiated settlement in the mid-1980s, a process in which Thabo Mbeki, the head of the ANCs directorate of international affairs, was a principal actor. Separately, from inside prison, Nelson Mandela began his own program of meetings and conversations with senior government officials and cabinet ministers. In February 1990 the South African government repealed its prohibitions of the ANC and other exiled organizations.

Ironically, the ANCs development over thirty years as a virtual government in exile was the key to its successful reentry into the domestic terrain of South African politics. The international recognition it received brought with it the financial resources needed to build a mass organization in South Africa of unprecedented scope and sophistication. This organization would not only absorb the exile liberation bureaucrats and returning soldiers but also bring together a variety of movements that had developed inside South Africa during their absence, including some of the homeland-based political parties and the vast federation of civic bodies led beginning in 1983 by the United Democratic Front.

Between 1990 and 1994 the ANC played a decisive role in negotiating a fresh constitutional dispensation. After elections in 1994, Nelson Mandela would lead a transitional Government of National Unity in which the ANC would share power with its old adversary, the National Party. The ANC won successive electoral victories in 1999 and 2004.

In power, the ANCs market-friendly economic policies, encapsulated in the GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution) program, have reflected leadership concerns about retaining and attracting investment capital. The rewards of economic liberalization have included increases in GDP (currently around 3.5%) and a measure of white support especially after former National Party leaders joined the ANC and Thabo Mbekis government in 2003. The government has also been successful in promoting a black business class. The ANCs continuing popularity is probably more a consequence of expanded access to pensions and grants. More equitable provisions are unlikely to guarantee that the ANC will hold its political base for very much longer. Free-market policies have failed to check social inequality or unemployment. After more than a decade in office, the ANC today is sharply divided by a conflict over who should succeed President Mbeki. This division reflects deep disagreements between right and left over policy.

SEE ALSO Apartheid; Colonialism; Mandela, Nelson; Mandela, Winnie

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Callinicos, Luli. 2004. Oliver Tambo: Beyond the Engeli Mountains. Cape Town, South Africa: David Philip.

Davis, Stephen, M. 1987. Apartheids Rebels: Inside South Africas Hidden War. New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press.

Lodge, Tom. 2004. The ANC and the Development of Party Politics in Modern South Africa. Journal of Modern African Studies 42 (2): 189-219.

South African Democracy Education Trust. 2004. The Road to Democracy in South Africa, Vol. 1 (1960-1970). Cape Town, South Africa: Zebra Press.

Walshe, Peter. 1970. The Rise of African Nationalism in South Africa: The African National Congress, 1912-1952. London: C. Hurst.

Tom Lodge

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"African National Congress." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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African National Congress

African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black (now multiracial) political organization in South Africa; founded in 1912. Prominent in its opposition to apartheid, the organization began as a nonviolent civil-rights group. In the 1940s and 50s it joined with other groups in promoting strikes and civil disobedience among the emerging urban black workforce.

The ANC was banned in 1960 and the following year initiated guerrilla attacks. In 1964 its leader, Nelson Mandela, was sentenced to life in prison, and the leadership was forced into exile. Although outlawed, the ANC became the popularly acknowledged vehicle of mass resistance to apartheid in the late 1970s and the 1980s; the training of ANC guerrillas continued in neighboring countries. Following the end of the ban on the ANC and the release of Mandela in 1990, many of its leaders returned from exile, and the ANC negotiated with the government for black enfranchisement and an end to apartheid.

In the early 1990s there were violent clashes between supporters of the ANC and Inkatha (see Buthelezi, Mangosuthu Gatsha). The ANC became a registered political party in 1994 in advance of the first South African elections open to citizens of all races. It won over 60% of the vote in the elections, and Mandela was elected president of South Africa; the ANC has continued to be the dominant party in South African politics in the years since. Thabo Mbeki succeeded Mandela as head of the ANC in 1997 and as president of South Africa in 1999.

Tensions within the ANC, largely as a result of the failure of South Africa's economic growth to benefit poorer South Africans, resulted in Mbeki's loss of the party leadership to Jacob Zuma in 2007 and his resignation as South Africa's president in 2008. ANC deputy leader Kgalema Motlanthe was elected South Africa's interim president. Following Mbeki's resignation as president, some of his ANC supporters left the party and formed the Congress of the People, but these defections and later ones, such as that associated with supporters of Julius Malema, have not affected the ANC's status as the nation's dominant party. Zuma succeeded Motlanthe as South Africa's president in 2009.

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"African National Congress." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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African National Congress

African National Congress (ANC) South African political party. It was formed in 1912 with the aim of securing racial equality and full political rights for non-whites. by the 1950s, the ANC was the principal opposition to the apartheid regime. A military wing, Umkhonte We Sizwe (‘Spear of the Nation’), was set up in the aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre. It engaged in economic and industrial sabotage. In 1961, the ANC was banned and many of its leaders arrested or forced into exile. In 1964, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, leaders of the ANC, began their long sentences as political prisoners. In 1990, the ANC was legalized, Mandela was released from Robben Island, and many of the legislative pillars of apartheid were dismantled. In 1994, in South Africa's first multiracial elections, the ANC gained more than 60% of the popular vote. Nelson Mandela became the first post-apartheid president of South Africa. In 1997 he was succeeded as leader of the ANC by Thabo Mbeki.

http://www.anc.org.za

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