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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Communist Party Of South Africa (CPSA)/ South African Communist Party (SACP)

The Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) was established in 1921 with close links to Moscow. Its initial membership was largely white but by the 1930s it had won some support in the ANC* following involvement in organizing African workers. It was disbanded in 1950 under threat of the government's suppression of Communism Act, but re-formed underground in 1953 as the South African Communist Party (SACP). Many of its members joined in the Congress of Democrats,* also formed in 1953, that later became part of the Congress Alliance.* The SACP took a strongly pro-Soviet line from its exile base in London and in the 1960s cooperated closely with the ANC, becoming involved in key Umkhonto weSizwe* structures including the Revolutionary Council set up by the ANC after the Morogoro conference in 1969. In 1989 in Havana, with the end of apartheid in sight, the SACP agreed to the idea of a negotiated settlement. Once unbanned in 1990, it was re-launched in South Africa and formed an alliance with the ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions* (COSATU). This masked the SACP's independent role, but it maintained a strong presence in the ANC's National Committee in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, however, as the ANC moved into power, it gradually abandoned its socialist tendencies. The SACP supported ANC candidates in the 1994 election.

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.