South African political party, founded in 1912 as a multiracial nationalist organization with the aim of extending the franchise to the whole population and ending all racial discrimination. It was banned by the government from 1960 to January 1990. It has been South Africa's ruling party from 2004. Its president from 2007 is Jacob Zuma.
Talks between the ANC, led by its president, Nelson Mandela, and the South African government began in December 1991 and culminated in the adoption of a non-racial constitution in 1993 and the ANC's agreement to participate in a power-sharing administration, as a prelude to full majority rule. In the country's first universal suffrage elections in April 1994, the ANC won a sweeping victory, capturing 62% of the vote, and Mandela was elected president. The ANC also won a majority in South Africa's first democratic local government elections in November 1995, when it won 66.3% of the vote.
Mandela stepped down as ANC president in 1997, being replaced by Thabo Mbeki, who became also South Africa's president in June 1999. This followed a general election in which the ANC won 66% of the vote, and with the coaltion support of the Minority Front, achieved the two-thirds majority in parliament needed to make changes to the constitution.
Mbeki remained as South Africa's president until September 2008 and ANC president until December 2008. He was forced out of office after losing a power struggle within the ANC to Jacob Zuma, who had been South Africa's deputy president from 1999 to 2005, when he was dismissed by Mbeki after becoming implicated in a corruption scandal. In September 2008, at the request of senior leaders in the ANC, Mbeki agreed to stand down as South Africa's president, being replaced as interim president by the ANC's deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe. And in December 2008 Zuma,who had strong support among the party's youth trade union and left wings, challenged and defeated Mbeki to be elected ANC president. This led to a number of people on the party's moderate, pro-business, and pro-Mbeki wing breaking away to form the Congress of the People, in December 2008.
Although originally non-violent, in exile in Mozambique from 1960 the ANC developed a military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, which engaged in sabotage and guerrilla training. Chris Hani was leader of the military wing from 1987 until his assassination in 1993.
The armed struggle was suspended in August 1990 after Mandela's release from prison and the organization's headquarters were moved from Zambia to Johannesburg.
Former ANC leaders include Solomon Plaatje, Albert Luthuli, and Oliver Tambo. Several imprisoned leaders were released in October 1989, and Mandela in February 1990. In October 1992, accusations of inhumane treatment of prisoners held in ANC camps outside South Africa led Mandela to institute an inquiry and promise an end to such abuses. The ANC's successes in constitutional negotiations from 1991 were seen as a threat by Inkatha and by white, right-wing politicians, and during the early 1990s fighting between supporters of the ANC and Inkatha left hundreds dead.
End of apartheid
Apartheid in 1960s and 1970s
African National Congress
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