About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

African National Congress (ANC)

In 1912, at the initiative of four black lawyers, the first conference of the South African Native National Congress was held. The organisation was formed in reaction to the exclusion of blacks from the political process at the formation of the Union in 1910. The constitution of the Congress, approved by the executive committee in 1918, stated that its aims included the achievement of universal adult franchise and the creation of a united democratic South Africa. The ANC promoted these ideals by sending petitions and delegations to the South African and British governments. It also participated in the rising labour movement in an effort to mobilize mass support. The organisation adopted the basic principles of Gandhi's strategy of passive resistance. By 1919 thousands of men and women had been arrested for burning or throwing away their passes. (A pass was the document giving blacks permission to live in "white" South Africa.)

In 1923 the Congress became the African National Congress. The Communist Party of South Africa, established in 1921, also tried to influence black politics. Close cooperation between the ANC and CPSA continued until 1927 when Pixley Seme, a founder member of the ANC, expressed his opposition to communist involvement in the black nationalist movement. In the thirties the influence of the ANC declined, mainly due to the ineffectiveness of the organisation, opposing factions within the groups, leadership disputes and the failure of representations to the government to remove the grievances of blacks.

During the war years the African National Congress formed political alliances with coloured and Indian organisations. By the end of the war, the ANC Youth League had been established within the ANC. It demanded a programme of exclusively black nationalism actually Pan Africanism.

Pan Africanism is an ideology promoting the moral and spiritual unity of blacks in South Africa, and the right to political self-determination of the people in Africa. Pan Africanists also demand that the people of Africa be treated with the same dignity in South Africa as elsewhere in the world, and insist that the black cul-tural heritage (negritude) is not inferior to that of Western culture.

The Youth League also held that blacks should develop the same racial awareness and racial solidarity as did white South Africans. These ideologies later led to the creation of the Pan Africanist Congress.

Despite the rise of the Youth League, which opposed the resolutions of many of the ANC's "old guard", the ANC experienced a strong revival during the late forties and fifties. The success of the NP's system of widespread apartheid after 1948 led to a new wave of protest by the ANC, which continually called on the government to address blacks' grievances and demands for political representation. It is clear that the ANC had no illusions about the government meeting their demands. From June to October 1952 it launched a countrywide defiance campaign which took the following forms: going out in the evenings without a pass; entering black town-ships without permission; using train carriages, waiting rooms and seats re-served for whites, and going into the "whites only" sections of post offices.

The government reacted by arresting many of the leaders of the ANC and South African Indian Congress, and by introducing measures to hand down even heavier sentences. Al-though the defiance campaign was intended as a non-violent protest, riots broke out in many areas, resulting in the deaths of blacks and whites. The defiance campaign was the first well-orchestrated attempt by black nationalists to increase their support and membership through mass action. By the end of the campaign the paid-up membership of the ANC was about t00000, an indication of the support the organisation enjoyed at that stage.

During this period a united front, the Congress Alliance, was formed to oppose the white state. It consisted of the African National Congress, the South African Indian Congress, the Coloured People's Congress, the Congress of Democrats (whites), and, after 1955, the South African Congress of Trade Unions (Sactu).

Shortly after the defiance campaign the ANC sponsored the Congress of the People through the Congress Alliance. At the first meeting of the Congress of the People, held at Kliptown near Johannesburg on 25 and 26 June 1955, a Freedom Charter was accepted.

The Freedom Charter

Those who accepted the Charter as a policy document were known as the "Charterists". Besides the government's opposition to the Congress of the People, a group of blacks also op-posed the multi-racial nature of the Charter. This group, which supported a Pan Africanist ideology, became known as the "Africanists". In March 1959 they formed the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) under the leadership of Robert Sobukwe. Both the ANC and PAC were anathemas to the government and were declared illegal organisations on 8 April 1960, following incidents at Sharpeville and Langa, among others, where 69 people were killed and 178 wounded.

After the banning of the ANC in 196o and the declaration of a state of emergency, the organisation went underground and clearly aligned it-self with the armed struggle in an effort to achieve its goals. In December 1961, a military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) (Spear of the Nation), was formed and claimed responsibility for a number of incidents of sabotage countrywide. Under the leadership of Oliver Tambo, the ANC established offices abroad which were used to mobilize inter-national opposition to the South African government. Umkhonto we Sizwe made it clear that all invitations and pleas addressed to the government had been fruitless, and that they hoped that limited violence would persuade the government to liberate the "oppressed" in South Africa.

At the Rivonia trial in 1963, Nelson Mandela, who had been arrested in 1960 and stood accused of high treason, identified four forms of violence: sabotage, guerrilla warfare, terrorism and revolution. According to him, Umkhonto we Sizwe would first exhaust the option of sabotage before exploiting the other alternatives. During this trial, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment. Meanwhile, the leadership of the ANC moved abroad and established head-quarters in Lusaka from where it planned operations.

By the end of the sixties the ANC's policy included full-scale violence. The "armed struggle" was accepted as official policy at the 1969 Morogoro conference. This shift meant that the notion of political participation was superseded by that of a political take-over.

The ANC had political as well as military orientations, and the stated object was the overthrow of the South African "regime". To achieve this aim, the following methods were employed:

     The mobilization of the inter-national community to isolate South Africa economically, politically and culturally.

     Mass mobilization within South Africa.

     The building of underground structures in an effort to make the country ungovernable.

     The increase of guerrilla warfare and sabotage, ie of the "armed struggle".

Over the years the ANC has, with the cooperation of overseas anti-apartheid groups, built up a wide support network in many Western and East-bloc states. While Western states, and Scandinavia in particular, gave mainly financial support, their logistical support, including the sup-ply of weapons, came from the Soviet Union and East Germany. The ANC also obtained observer status at the United Nations, and during the eighties broadened its "diplomatic" ties with Western states. More than half the organisation's budget, amounting by the mid-eighties to more than R1oo million, was spent on the strengthening of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

The ANC's attraction for South African blacks in particular lay in the fact that it was not only the most prominent South African liberation organisation but also the oldest. In the eyes of many the ANC took a non-dogmatic approach: Marxists as well as non-Marxists could join the organisation, while the ANC's economic policy embraced socialism as well as capitalism. Over the years the Freedom Charter remained the ANC's ideological point of departure. The vague nature of this document ensured the best of both worlds for the ANC. Hard-line capitalists as well as socialist-minded trade union leaders all agreed after discussions with the ANC that the principles of the Freedom Charter served their own interests. ANC spokespersons, however, insisted that the method used to abolish apartheid would determine the nature and number of the organisation's economic options.

A discussion document "Constitutional Guidelines for a Democratic South Africa" published by the legal department of the ANC in 1988, revealed an even more moderate point of view. Critics, however, remained adamant that the ambiguous language, concerning economic matters in particular, in both the Freedom Charter and the Constitutional Guidelines, concealed socialist leanings which would lead to the destruction of capitalism and private enterprise in South Africa.

Since 196o the South AfricanCommunist Party, which in a philosophical manner of speaking saw the ANC as a means to an end, has formed closer ties with the ANC. Al-legations by Marxist "workerists" suspended from the ANC as well as by the South African government reinforced the impression that the SACP was mainly functioning through the ANC. ("Workerists" are those who believe that the workers should be in control of the socialist revolution; the group is Trotsky-orientated.) The London-based Marxist Workerist Tendency of the ANC (MWT) is a group of ANC sympathizers who believe that the organisation should adopt a stricter and more orthodox approach towards a workers' revolution in South Africa. The group's mouthpiece, Ingaba ya basebenzi, is published regularly. MWT is led by four South African exiles, David Hemson, Robin Peter-son, Martin Legassick and Paula Ensor. Although the foursome's membership of the ANC was suspended in 1985, they still identify with the ANC. The MWT can be seen as a remnant of Trotskyism, an ideology already prevalent in South Africa in the thirties. They believe that the SACP, like other Stalinist parties, "is inclined to promote its own power interests at the cost of the actual interests of the black working class in South Africa".

Attempts have been made to prove that there is an alliance between the ANC and the SACP. In 1986 the government alleged that 23 of the 30 most senior officials in the ANC

were also members of the SACP. This alleged interweaving of leader-ship and structures was sufficient proof for some of a so-called "alliance". Broadly speaking the SACP and ANC share the same political views and strategies. There was also no clear denial from within the ranks of the SACP of the new policy initiatives contained in the Constitutional Guidelines and the Harare Declaration.

The ANC's Constitutional Guide-lines, along with the Harare Declaration drawn up in August 1989, contained the following important policy principles:

The pursuit of a unitary, non-racial democratic state.

A system of general franchise based on the "one man, one vote" principle.

A bill of rights.

A mixed economy.

A reform programme in respect of land ownership.

A bill of workers' rights included in the constitution.

State institutions constitutionally obliged to eradicate inequalities resulting from apartheid.

A non-aligned South African state, subject to the charter of the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations.

An interesting new direction emerged from the Constitutional Guidelines and the Harare Declaration. There was a move away from the populist and egalitarian principles of the Freedom Charter towards greater emphasis on individual rights. The question remains whether this was merely a tactical move or a real shift in policy. Seen as a whole, the guide-lines merely broadened, clarified and modernized the Freedom Charter, reinforcing certain widespread sentiments contained in it.

The ANC has an erratic history in respect of the achievement of set goals. Banned in 1960, the organisation only achieved successful sabotage attempts by the mid-seventies. From 1985 to 1987 government and industrial targets did suffer under their onslaught. In 1986 there were, for example, 228 instances of sabotage. However, despite a period of unrest which began in September 1984 (primarily in reaction to the new constitution which once again excluded blacks) and lasted until 1987, the revolutionary aims of the ANC were not realized.

It is generally accepted that the armed struggle of the ANC was never a serious threat to the stability of the South African government. It was this fact which prompted the ANC to undertake stronger initiatives in the diplomatic arena. These included discussions, especially with Afrikaners, over a wide spectrum. The Dakar visit in 1987, initiated by Idasa and involving discussions between a group of South Africans and exiled members of the ANC, is a well-known example. It therefore appears that in the last few years the ANC has had more success in the diplomatic than in the military field. The discussions not only increased the status of the ANC abroad, but helped to promote the image of the organisation among white South Africans, leading to the de-demonization of the ANC. ANC spokespersons were also more moderate in their statements. Other initiatives included the forming of a unified op-position to apartheid. The founding of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in August 1983, and the Mass Democratic Movement in 1987, were results of these initiatives.

During the eighties the ANC was better organised than in the sixties and seventies. But it was in the diplomatic field that it achieved its greatest victories. The isolation of South Africa, largely organised by the ANC in cooperation with the international anti-apartheid movement, was particularly noticeable in the economic field in the form of sanctions and disinvestment. Cultural and sports boycotts, too, were successful to a certain degree. In some circles this pressure on the government is seen as an important reason for the shift away from apartheid.

Since 1989 international and local factors have contributed to a new climate of political accommodation in South Africa. The accent the world placed on a diplomatic solution to the conflict suggested the possibility of a political settlement in the country. Other contributing factors were:

The decline in the credibility of socialist models, and, consequently, the reduction in the involvement of the "surrogate" forces of the Great Powers in southern Africa.

The crumbling of the ideological and material support of East-bloc states intended to propagate a socialist order in South Africa.

The South African government's increasing confidence that the ANC would be more receptive to a political settlement without the support of the Eastern bloc.

The realization by the South African government, under the leadership of a new State President, F W de Klerk, that apartheid had failed and that further international isolation could irrevocably damage the country's economy.

The above factors, along with the unbanning of the ANC, SACP and PAC, and the lifting of restrictions on 33 other organisations, have heralded a new era for the ANC. The release of Nelson Mandela on 11 February 1990, and his appointment as deputy president of the ANC have transformed the former "terrorist" organisation into one of the most important actors on the South African political scene.

Since then the ANC has launched a comprehensive image-building campaign within South Africa as well as abroad. Nelson Mandela, the once mythical leader of an equally mythical organisation, did his most important groundwork for the ANC during his 14-nation tour in June and July 1990. This tour was followed by numerous other visits abroad.

The Groote Schuur Minute in May 1990 initiated discussions to clear away the most important obstacles to a negotiated settlement. However, it was only on 6 August 1990, with the Pretoria Minute, that a final agreement between the government and the ANC was reached in respect of the release of political prisoners, the return of exiles, the identification of the obstacles contained in the Internal Security Act, and the ending of violence by the ANC. Accordingly, the road was opened to a negotiated settlement. Meanwhile, the ANC also established its organisation within South Africa under the leadership of Walter Sisulu.

In October 1990 it took the first step to reactivate the ANC Youth League, inactive during the banning of the ANC, by establishing the Pro-visional National Youth Committee. Besides the 29 members of different youth organisations who form the management of the PNYC, regional committees were established in each of the 14 regions into which the ANC had divided South Africa for organisational purposes. Peter Mokaba, president of Sayco, the largest youth organisation was appointed chairperson of the PNYC.

In the middle of 1991 the ANC Youth League which received official status in the second half of the year, already had more than 135 000 members in 162 established branches. The black youth represents the largest single group and a generation gap between it and the ANC leadership could have serious results for negotiations and the future of South Africa.

Towards the end of 1990 the groundwork for the re-activation of the ANC Women's League was completed. Gertrude Shope was elected the first president of the organisation at the first national congress of the ANC Women's League in May 1991. Shope will automatically become a member of the national executive committee, the ANC's highest policy-making body. Among the most important items on the agenda of this organisation's some 700 branches are the role of women in the ANC, the composition of a Bill of Women's Rights and the emancipation of women.

The ANC has experienced numerous organisational problems on the ground. The relatively high member-ship fee of R12 per year prevents large numbers of members from being enrolled. The organisation struggled to reach its target of 200 000 signed-up members by the end of 1990. (By mid-1991 it had 700000 members in 85o branches.) It is alleged that a lack of funds has had a demoralizing effect on the organisation. A further aspect for which the ANC leadership has been criticized is its failure to consult the ordinary members about decisions. This has caused tension between the ANC and its natural allies such as Cosatu. There are also different political factions within the ANC. While some members are in favour of stricter enforcement of sanctions, others have indicated that they are on the point of abandoning the sanctions policy.

A split also seems apparent among the militant members of the ANC those who still support a military option and the pragmatists those who have accepted a negotiated settlement as inevitable. A disturbing tendency towards ethnic violence, particularly between urban Zulus and Xhosas on the Rand, has damaged the ANC's self-confidence.

The myth that the ANC is invincible has been contradicted by Inkatha in Natal. It seems apparent from these facts that unity within the ANC is not as strong as was initially thought. This is probably why the election of a new national executive committee had to be postponed to July 1991.

Instead of a national conference a consultative conference was held in Johannesburg from 14 to 16 December 1990. Apart from the more than 1 600 delegates from ANC branches countrywide, the conference was attended by the SACP, UDF and Cosatu as participating observers, and foreign representatives of the ANC from 36 states. The conference was opened by the former president of the ANC, Oliver Tambo, who returned to South Africa on 13 December 1990 after 30 years abroad.

At the conference, which indicated that the majority of delegates, the younger ones in particular, were more radical than the ANC leader-ship corps, the following set of conditions was proposed for further negotiation after 30 April 1991:

The unconditional release of all political detainees.

The unconditional return of exiles.

The abolition of all repressive and security legislation.

     The suspension of all political trials.

     A door-to-door campaign to gather signatures for the release of political prisoners.

The release of prisoners to reach a climax on Solomon Mahlangu Day (6 April).

Holding of workshops along with the SACP and Cosatu to devise a joint action programme.

     A mass education programme to propagate a single education system for everyone.

The organising of a patriotic conference on Sharpeville Day (21 March) to mobilize all anti-apartheid forces (this was, however, never realized).

The general impression of the conference was that the leaders were moving towards possible reconciliation with the government at a faster pace than their followers were pre-pared to accept. This was reflected in the conference-goers' strong support for intensification of sanctions by overseas countries, while leaders such as Oliver Tambo and Thabo Mbeki, proposed a relaxation of sanctions. There was also insistence that the ANC use Umkhonto commanders to establish self-defence units in neighbourhoods to reduce the incidence of violence. The "secret talks" the ANC leadership held with the government were strongly criticized, and conference-goers demanded that in future these talks take place publicly.

Early in 1991 the ANC suggested that a conference of all political par-ties in South Africa with proven political support be held as a first step to the drawing up and acceptance of a new constitution. According to Nelson Mandela, those who attended the conference would be able to draw up a constitution on their own while also serving as an interim government. But to serve as an interim government a non-racial general election would first have to be held to obtain a mandate. The government has declared itself in favour of such a multi-party conference to prepare for the constitutional negotiation process, but rejects the idea of an interim government.

The violence in Natal and on the Rand between primarily Inkatha and ANC supporters put considerable pressure on the leaders of these two organisations to meet. Towards the end of January 1991 the long-awaited meeting between Mandela and Mangosuthu Buthelezi did indeed take place, but their call on supporters for a cessation of violence was in vain. Several talks between Inkatha and the ANC were fruitless.

It does, however, appear that the ANC and PAC have formed closer ties: representatives of the twoorganisations met early in April 1991 in Harare to discuss the "patriotic conference" to be held later in the year. This followed after their Patriotic Front which was planned for March 1991 was not realized. But these apparent "overtures" do not imply that concessions have been made regarding fundamental differences between the parties.

In reaction to the predominantly positive response to the 1 February 1991 reform speech by F W de Klerk, locally and abroad, the ANC has continued to call for a continuation of sanctions against South Africa. According to the ANC, sanctions must continue until all forms of apartheid have been removed. This view indicates an inherent conflict within the ANC because the leaders agree that a strong economy is absolutely essential for successful constitutional change. The negative response to the State President's reform speech indicates that the ANC is having difficulty in making the shift from a liberation movement to a political party.

During April 1991 the ANC publicized a document for discussion en-titled "Structures and principles of a constitution for a democratic South Africa". The most important proposals can be summarized as follows:

A system of proportional representation.

An executive president with diminished powers (directly or indirectly elected).

A bicameral parliament consisting of a national assembly and senate.

An independent judiciary with a bill of human rights.

A constitutional court.

Re-inclusion of the homelands in South Africa.

Equal status for to languages.

This document did not exact much discussion, as it was overshadowed by the seven-point ultimatum that the ANC put forward for 9 May 1991. In this ultimatum the ANC threatened to disrupt negotiations if, amongst other things, Ministers Adriaan Vlok and Magnus Malan were not discharged from their positions, and if important adjustments (in particular the carrying of traditional weapons and police action) were not made to the security policy of the government.

The structure of a constitution for a democratic South Africa

1. South Africa shall be reconstituted as a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and unitary republic.

2. South Africa shall consist of the whole territory recognized by the inter-national community as South Africa and shall include the Transkei, Ciskei, Venda and Bophuthatswana.

3.1 Provision will be made for the three branches of government: the executive, legislative and the judiciary.

3.2 The head of the executive will be an elected president who will also be the head of state. The question that arises is whether the president should be elected directly by the public and vested with greater executive powers, or whether s/he should be elected by and answerable to parliament. This is a matter on which there must be greater public debate.

3.3 The president will act in consultation with a cabinet of ministers headed by a prime minister. The president will appoint a prime minister and other members of the cabinet.

3.4 The president may only hold office for a maximum of two terms of five years each. He or she will be subject to removal only by a resolution passed for good cause by a two thirds majority of the national assembly.

3.5 The legislative branch of government will consist of two houses of parliament. The first house of parliament will be the national assembly which will be elected on the basis of proportional representation by universal suffrage in which all persons will have an equal vote without regard to race, gender, ethnic origin, language or creed. The power of enacting legislation will primarily be vested in the national assembly.

3.6 The second house of parliament will be the senate, which will also be elected according to universal suffrage without regard to race, gender, colour, ethnic origin, language or creed. The senate will neither be a corporatist chamber made up of interest groups (youth, labour, women or business, or other groups) nor will it represent ethnic or so-called "community" interests. The electoral system will, however, be different to that adopted for the election of the national assembly, and will make provision for representation on a regional but not on an ethnic basis.

3.7 The senate will be the guardian of the constitution, with power to refer any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the constitution to the appropriate court for its decision and the power to review. Where appropriate the senate may delay the passage of legislation passed by the national assembly, but it will not have the power to veto legislation.

3.8 Elections for the presidency, national assembly and the senate will be held by secret ballot at periodic intervals of not more than five years and procedures will be enacted to ensure that the elections are genuine and are con-ducted in accordance with the principles and procedures consistent with those obtaining in a democracy.

3.9 All South Africans shall be entitled to stand for election as president, to parliament and to other elected offices. Elections will be supervised by an in-dependent electoral commission, and conducted in accordance with the standards designed to ensure that the elections are fair and free.

4.1 The national assembly will be elected on the basis of proportional re-presentation. The rationale behind proportional representation lies in the following factors:

(a) It encourages participation by groups which have significant followings. This is more satisfactory than forcing political or subversive activity outside parliament. Fringe parties would be excluded by imposing a threshold of 5 per cent of the vote.

(b) Votes in excess of 50 per cent would count and hence be an inducement to vote in areas where one party is dominant. Similarly "losing" parties' votes in those areas would also contribute to their overall performance.

(c) It leads to a more exact political reflection of the popularity of parties.

(d) It avoids the time, expense and accusations of bias in the process of de-limiting constituencies. This process can, take months or years.

4.2 Proportional representation on the basis of a national party list system, may presents problems. Under such a system there is no way of ensuring ad-equate regional or local representation. Party bureaucracies benefit at the expense of local party structures or local sentiment. There is little direct accountability to constituencies.

4.3 Accordingly the ANC favours incorporating elements of a national list and regional accountability into the electoral system. This could be done most simply by combining a national list with a regional list. For example: regions could be allocated say half of the total seats, to be divided between the different regions in proportion to the registered voters in each region. The remaining half of the seats could be allocated on a national basis. Voters would vote for a party within their region and the regional seats will be allocated between the parties according to the percentages obtained by each party in each region. The second stage would be for regional votes to be aggregated so as to determine the national percentage of the total vote of each party. Each party would then be entitled to nominate from its national list, the additional members needed to make up its total entitlement of seats.

4.4 The end result will be the representation of each party in the assembly in proportion to its total votes, but reflecting a regional choice of members as well. The system requires the electorate to cast one vote only. It will be easy to administer and easy for the voters to follow.

4.5 It is recommended that proportional representation, based on the list system, be the preferred system of voting for senate, regional and other elections.

5. It is important that there be a guarantee of free and fair elections and that procedures be enacted to see to this. It is therefore recommended that the conduct and supervision of all elections be vested in an independent electoral commission to oversee every aspect of elections from the printing of ballot papers to the adoption of regulations for access by parties to the public media and fairness to all political parties by the public media.

6. There will be an independent judiciary responsible for the interpretation of the constitution and the application of the law of the land. The judicial power will include the power to review and set aside legislation and actions which are unconstitutional. A constitutional court, appointed by the president on the recommendation of a judicial service commission, or by other methods acceptable in a democracy, comprising of judges, practitioners and academics would be set up.

7. Provision will be made for elected local and regional government on the basis of universal franchise without regard to race, gender, ethnic origin, language or creed. Local and regional government will exercise delegated powers but will have wide discretions in regard to the priorities to be pursued at these levels, provided always that such policies do not conflict with national policies. Functions presently vested in the provincial administrations will be vested in the regional government. The boundaries of local and regional districts will be determined with due regard to economic and development considerations and without regard to race, colour, ethnic origin, language or creed.

8. Provision shall be made for one common and equal citizenship acquired by birth, descent and naturalization in accordance with conventional standards. Provision will also be made for the restoration of South African citizen-ship to persons who have lost their citizenship as a result of the denationalization process through the homelands policy, or as a result of having gone into exile for political reasons, and provisions will also be made for the acquisition of South African citizenship by the spouses and children of such persons.

9.1 All languages of South Africa will have equal status. They will be set out in a schedule to the constitution and will include in alphabetical order the following: Afrikaans, English, Sipedi, Sesotho, Seswati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, Zulu.

9.2 The state shall take all reasonable and necessary steps to protect, pro-mote and enhance the language rights of all the people of South Africa in relation to education and culture and in the functioning of the state at local, regional and national levels.

9.3 The language policy of the state shall be directed towards promoting and encouraging multilingualism and preventing the use of any language or languages for the purposes of domination or division.

9.4 The state shall, however, be empowered to make reasonable provision by law for the use of one or more of the languages in different regions of the country, or for specific purposes.

9.5 The question may, of course be asked whether there should be one official language for the country. But if this choice is made it would mean the demotion of some languages or the promotion of a single one. Also, it would mean that the official language would be one which most of the people either do not speak or do not speak fluently.

9.6 It would seem therefore that the most appropriate thing to do is to give equal status to all languages subject to the right of the government to give primacy to one or more languages in any region or throughout the state as the language of administrative communication or judicial record, or for other purposes either throughout the state or in any area. But everyone should be entitled to use her or his language for purposes of communicating with the public service.

ro.t There will be a justiciable bill of rights leaving the way open for legitimate state action but affirming and protecting internationally recognized rights and freedoms including equality before the law; freedom from detention without trial; protection against arbitrary arrest and detentions; protection against arbitrary search and seizure; the prohibition of forced labour; the right to fair trial; the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment; protection of life including the abolition of the death sentence; protection of women's rights; protection of children; freedom from discrimination; the right to privacy; freedom of expression including a free press; the right to information; freedom of religion and conscience; freedom of assembly; freedom of association; freedom of movement including the right of citizens to leave and return to South Africa; trade union rights including the right to work and the right to strike; the right to form political parties; the right to education, welfare and health care consistent with the needs of the people and the resources of the state; environmental rights; family and cultural rights; and providing for just compensation to be paid for property taken by the state.

10.2 We do not propose to discuss here the formulation of each right and the enforcement of rights as this has already been done in a detailed fashion in a discussion paper The Draft Bill of Rights published in November 1990 by the African National Congress.

t t. Provision will be made for discrimination to be eliminated in substance as well as in form. At all levels of government the state will be empowered to pursue policies of affirmative action for the advancement of persons who have been socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged by past discrimi-

natory laws and practices and in order to redress social, economic and educational imbalances in South Africa resulting from such discrimination with special regard to the maldistribution of land and the need for housing. Special provision will also be made to redress the added discrimination which has been suffered by women and the victims of forced removals.

12. All discriminatory legislation and all other legislation inconsistent with the bill of rights will be invalidated by the bill of rights. All other legislation will remain in force unless repealed by parliament or set aside by a court under its power of judicial review.

13. There will be a public service commission charged with the responsibility of overseeing the recruitment, promotion and dismissal to and from posts in the civil service. Such a commission will also be required to implement an affirmative action programme in regard to appointments to senior positions in order to redress existing race and gender disparities. Provision will be made for a representative structuring of the public service, the police service and the defence services and to ensure that the public service will be accountable for its actions.

14. There will be an independent ombud with powers to investigate complaints against members of the public service including the police and other holders of public and private power and to investigate allegations of corruption.

15. The constitution will also make provision for a state of emergency to be declared when the life of the nation is threatened. Such a power will be subject to strict controls by parliament and the judiciary. The constitution will provide for the recognition and protection as far as possible of fundamental rights during the period of emergency.

16. The constitution will be subject to amendment only if a majority of two thirds of the national assembly approve of the amendment or if approved by two thirds of the votes cast at a national referendum. The ANC withdrew from the peace conference in May 1991 but not from further constitutional negotiations.

The postponed 48th national conference of the ANC, the first inside South Africa for 31 years, was held in Durban in July 1991. It was at-tended by more than 2 300 delegates who elected a new national executive committee. The NEC now consisted of 50 elected members, 32 ex officio members and the chief executive, namely the president, deputy president, secretary-general, deputy secretary-general and the treasurer-general. In addition the president might also nominate a further three members.

In the run-up to the election not only were there differences of opinion concerning the expansion and frame of reference of the NEC but there was also speculation that many of the older members would not be re-elected to prominent positions.

The chief executive as well as the enlarged NEC indicated a balance between the so-called "hawks" and "doves" (an estimated 25 members were also members of the SACP). The chief executive was:

q President: Nelson Mandela

q Deputy president: Walter Sisulu

q Secretary-general: Cyril Ramaphosa

qDeputy secretary-general: Jacob Zuma

q Treasurer-general: Thomas Nkobi

Although the ANC still advocated the gradual lifting of sanctions, linked to its strategic aims, it also gave unequivocal recognition to the existence of minorities (and by implication ethnicity) when the president called for greater representation of minorities within the organisation. In addition, the greater flexibility concerning negotiation created hope that the ANC would treat this matter with greater urgency.

Other matters of importance were, among others:

There was no clear stand on violence it remained suspended and not abolished.

Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) remained battle-ready and the military arm abroad there would still be recruitment of new members.

The ANC would continue to be a freedom organisation until there was complete eradication of apartheid and the establishment of a democratic constitution. It was not considering becoming a political party at that stage.

In view of the weak economy there was a call to members to approach mass actions such as strikes with responsibility.

The ANC wanted to form a patriotic front with other resistance movements as soon as possible.

It has taken the African National Congress nearly 80 years to come the full political circle, from its founding in 1912 in reaction to white political exclusivity to 1990, when it was unbanned and could function as a political movement within the South African political system, canvassing support for its policy of establishing a new non-racial political dispensation. In the process it has moved from a peaceful nationalistic movement through phases of protest and armed struggle to possible participation as a fully-fledged political party.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.