Reds and Patriots: The Alliance of the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Office of Student Research and Creative Activity
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During the apartheid era in South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) was allied with the South African Communist Party (SACP), presenting a united opposition to the white minority government. After apartheid was dismantled and multiracial democracy and equal rights were instituted, the ANC and the SACP maintained their alliance following their rise to power. To this day, the parties remain partners, although South Africa has not become a Communist state. Fears during the apartheid era that black majority rule would lead to Communism did not come to fruition. However, some contemporary scholars have argued that the SACP was the stronger party in the alliance, and that it wielded considerable influence over the ANC and its paramilitary wing, the Umkhonto we Sizwe. These scholars claim that the ANC was subservient to the international Communist movement, which verifies one of the apartheid regime’s critiques of the ANC. In this paper, I argue that the ANC was the leading party in the anti-apartheid alliance and was not controlled by the Communists, and that the ANC and the SACP, despite having common interests and leftist orientations, were guided by different ideologies, interests, and long-term objectives. The ANC was primarily concerned with national self-determination for black Africans, while the SACP adhered to Marxism-Leninism and sought the creation of a socialist workers’ state. Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders, including black Communists, were primarily dedicated to nationalist goals. This paper also debunks the notion that the Freedom Charter, the anti-apartheid movement’s declaration of goals and principles, was a blueprint for a socialist state.
African National Congress
South African Communist Party
South Africa--Politics and government
South Africa--Politics and government--20th century