Pan Africanist Congress

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of South Africa The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) (later the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania), was a South African liberation movement, that is now a minor political party. It was founded in 1959 after a number of members broke away from the African National Congress (ANC) because they objected to the ANC's non-racial policies and wished to take a bolder approach based more on mass action. Robert Sobukwe was elected as the first president, at the founding conference held in April 1959 in Johannesburg.

The ANC decided to launch a campaign against the pass laws to begin on March 31, 1960. The PAC decided to pre-empt the ANC by launching their own campaign ten days earlier, on March 21, 1960. Sobukwe urged people to leave their passes at home and to non-violently hand themselves over for arrest at the nearest police station. The protest erupted in tragedy when police opened fire on a group of protestors in Sharpeville, killing 69 people and injuring 186, many being shot from behind.

Shortly after the Sharpeville Massacre, the National Party government imposed a state of emergency, and banned both the PAC and ANC. Sobukwe was arrested and jailed, only to be released in 1969. Many members fled into exile, and when Sobukwe died in 1978, the PAC was left with a leadership vacuum which successfully filled only with the appointment of David Sibeko to head the Presidential Leadership Council in 1979. The assassination of Sibeko in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania on 12 June 1979 inaugurated the demise of the PAC. In 1968 PAC launched Poqo (later renamed as Azanian People's Liberation Army) as its armed wing.

Although founded by ANC members who were profoundly anti-Communist (they particularly objected to the ANC's alliance with the (then) largely white South African Communist Party), in the 1960s the PAC adopted a Maoist positon. The ANC consistently regarded the PAC as reactionary and backward and that impression wasn't helped by the inability of APLA to even come close to matching Umkhonto we Sizwe in the military field.

It was unbanned in 1990, along with the ANC, but was plagued by infighting, and only gained a small percentage of votes in the 1994 election, which shrank even further in the 1999 election. In 2003, after yet another failed congress, one of the party's more prominent and popular members, Patricia de Lille left to form her own party, the Independent Democrats. This did not affect the PAC's continued poor performance in the 2004 election, though ID did better.

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