During the struggle to end the institutionalized racial segregation and promotion of white supremacy in South Africa under the apartheid government, the African National Congress (ANC) was the leading political party that championed the movement, much to the detriment of most of its members. By 1994, apartheid became a thing of the past and the ANC rose to become the ruling party as Nelson Mandela was elected as the first president of the country in its first democratic elections. The party has since that time maintained that position although it has in recent time been embroiled in a number of controversies.
The African National Congress was founded on the 8th of January 1912 in Bloemfontein as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) by John Dube, Sol Plaatje, and Pixley ka Isaka Seme. The party’s name was later changed to the ANC in 1923.
John Langalibalele Dube, who served as the first president of the Party, was a South African philosopher, educator, political, essayist, editor, publisher, poet and novelist. His intention was to work towards enabling black South Africans and mixed-race South Africans to gain full voting rights. When the apartheid government came about, its aim changed to working through peaceful and non-violent protests to bring the policies to an end.
In 1960, however, when the Sharpeville Massacre occurred and the activities of the ANC were banned in the country, the party developed an armed wing that would fight apartheid.
Co-founded by Mandela, Umkhonto we Sizwe, ANC’s armed wing, focused on sabotage and guerrilla warfare that was aimed at the state and the military. After many years of fighting and the imprisonment and killing of many of its members, ANC was eventually unbanned on the 3rd of February 1990. Two years later, on the 17th of March 1992, the white electorate of the country passed the apartheid referendum which removed apartheid and permitted the ANC to run in the historic 1994 election that gave the opportunity to Nelson Mandela to become the first president of the Post-apartheid country.
Membership to the ANC is open to South Africans of any color, creed, or race who are above 18 years of age. Intending members are expected to contact the secretary of the nearest ANC branch where they would fill the party’s membership application. After this, a notification will be sent to them, acknowledging that the organization has received their application.
After due consideration by the branch executive committee, a provisional member will become a full member after a period of eight weeks and will receive his membership card, unless any objections are received. The person is also expected to pay an annual membership fee of R20.00.
The constitution of the African National Congress (ANC) contains the fundamental principles that outline the purpose, structure, and limits of the ruling party. It has been amended severally as it is considered the basic charter of the organization.
Click here to fully read the party’s constitution.
The party’s flag consists of equal horizontal bands of green, gold and black. The green symbolizes the land which has brought aid to the people for centuries. Gold represents the mineral resources and other natural wealth the people are blessed with while black represents the people of South Africa, the freedom fighters who for generations fought for liberation and freedom from slavery and white minority rule.
Other Facts of the ANC
1. The ruling party’s current headquarters is at Johannesburg at Luthuli House, 54 Sauer Street. As of 2015, the party has over 769,000 registered members.
2. Having many wings and leagues is not out of the ordinary for a party this big. The party’s youth wing is the ANC Youth League, while ANC Women’s League is the party’s Women’s wing. The party also has the ANC Veterans League.
3. The political party has since 2001 released an online weekly newsletter called ANC Today which reports the latest news about the party.
4. The party’s signature rallying call is Amandla ngawethu or Matla ke arona which means ‘power to the people’.
5. The ANC flag shares similarities with that of the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and the flag of the KwaZulu bantustan. The three colours of the flag were later included in the new National Flag of South Africa following the end of apartheid rule.