African National Congress (ANC)

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The African National Congress' (ANC) Centenary logo. Source: http://www.anc.org.za

The African National Congress (ANC) is South Africa's governing party and has been in power since the transition to democracy in April 1994. The organisation was initially founded as the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) on 8 January 1912 in Bloemfontein, with the aim of fighting for the rights of black South Africans. The organization was renamed the ANC in 1923. While the organization’s early period was characterized by political inertia due to power struggles and lack of resources, increasing repression and the entrenchment of white minority rule galvanized the party. As a result of the establishment of apartheid, its aversion to dissent by Black people and brutal crackdown of political activists, the ANC together with the SACP formed a military wing, uMkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation/ MK) in 1961.

Through MK, the ANC waged the armed struggle and obtained support from some African countries and the Soviet block for its activities. With the increasing internal dissent, international pressure and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the apartheid government was forced to enter into negotiations with the ANC. This saw the collapse of apartheid and the ushering in of democratic rule in 1994.

In the national elections from 1994 to 2004 the ANC had consistently risen in electoral popularity. With the 2009 elections the party suffered a drop in popularity that was repeated in 2014. This time period also coincided with the presidency of Jacob Zuma.

Last updated : 12-Feb-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 20-Mar-2011