Country Listing

South Africa Table of Contents

South Africa

Freedom Front

The Freedom Front (FF) is a right-wing Afrikaner political party established in March 1994, following a split among extremist organizations, to ensure a proapartheid presence in the April elections. It is a successor to the Afrikaner Volksfront (AVF), which was founded by General Constand Viljoen, who had also served as chief of the South African Defence Force (SADF) until November 1985. Viljoen emerged from retirement in 1991 to lead a group of right-wing former generals in forming an alliance of Afrikaner parties. As the AVF, the alliance included the White Protection Movement (Blanke Bevrydingsbeweging--BBB), the Boerestaat Party (Boer State Party, the military wing of which was known as the the Boer Resistance Movement, or the Boere Weerstandsbeweging--BWB), the Conservative Party of South Africa (CP), the Reconstituted National Party (Herstigte Nasionale Party--HNP), the Oranjewerkers (Orange Workers), and the Republic Unity Movement. The AVF's objective was to unify the extreme right and to advocate the formation of a volkstaat , an autonomous Afrikaner nation-state, in a postapartheid South Africa. However, even some AVF leaders were troubled by the violent racism and political extremism of some members of the front. Their refusal to participate in the nation's first nonracial elections weakened the movement, and in March 1994 General Viljoen and his allies broke away to form the FF.

Much of the support for the FF comes from farmers' organizations in the former Transvaal and the Free State. Among the FF's leaders are several former Conservative Party members of parliament, former high-ranking military officers, and a former chairman of the Broederbond.

In the 1994 elections, the FF received only 2.2 percent of the vote, gaining nine National Assembly seats. The party performed best in Gauteng, where some 40 percent of its votes were cast. Its participation in the elections helped to legitimize the electoral process and thus to neutralize the violent threat that the extremist right-wing extraparliamentary forces could have posed to the new political system. In doing so, it bolstered the standing of Viljoen and others who sought to preserve Afrikaner cultural autonomy through nonviolent means.

Other Political Parties

The Democratic Party (DP) was established in April 1989 as a liberal, centrist party. It was formed as an amalgamation of four liberal political groupings, the most important of which was the recently disbanded Progressive Federal Party (PFP), led by Zach de Beer. The coalition also included the Independent Party (IP), led by Dennis Worrall; the National Democratic Movement (NDM), led by Wynand Malan; and a group of reform-minded Afrikaners dubbed the "fourth force." The DP then became the primary left-of-center parliamentary opposition to the NP. It won 20 percent of white support in the 1989 general election, giving it thirty-three parliamentary seats.

The DP advocated the abolition of apartheid and the creation of a nonracial social democratic state through the protection of human rights, a government based on proportional party representation and universal suffrage, an independent judiciary, collective bargaining in industrial relations, and economic growth through individual entrepreneurship. Ironically, the NP adopted some of the DP's notions about reforming the apartheid state in 1989 and 1990, thus depriving the DP of some of its political base. A few DP leaders advocated an alliance with the ANC; others favored joining the NP; and the embattled center--led by the party's leader de Beer--sought to develop a distinctive, liberal, centrist image that would serve to mediate between the ANC and the NP. At the same time, the DP sought, without much success, to expand its support among all racial groups.

In preparation for the April 1994 elections, the DP's economic program gave top priority to creating jobs in a "free market economy with a social conscience," while rejecting the "nationalization of privately owned businesses and the expropriation of property for political purposes." The DP also opposed "economic populism," socialism, and the "politicization of education, housing, and social services." Its political program criticized the interim constitution for failing to eliminate laws that allowed detention without trial, and for failing to ensure the political independence of the media. The DP also opposed the antidefection clauses in the interim constitution, which made it difficult for members of parliament to break ranks and vote against the dictates of their party leaders. The DP called, instead, for a constitution based on individual rights, property rights, press freedom, women's rights, proportional representation within constituencies, federalism, devolution of federal powers to the provinces, and the direct election of senators by the provincial electorates.

In the 1994 elections, the DP's performance was considered disastrous, as it won only 1.7 percent of the vote and gained only seven seats in the National Assembly. The voting results revealed that it had failed to broaden its urban, middle-class, and English-speaking white base. It had won only about 3 percent of the coloured vote in the Western Cape, a comparable percentage of the Indian vote in KwaZulu-Natal, and no significant black support.

The Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) was established in April 1959 by ANC dissidents who opposed that group's multiracial orientation and advocated black liberation within an exclusively black nationalist context. The party was founded in the black townships of Orlando and Soweto, outside Johannesburg, where it has received most of its support. The government declared the PAC an "unlawful" organization in 1960, because it advocated violent rebellion against the government. Like the ANC, the PAC was recognized by the United Nations (UN) and by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as an official South African liberation movement. It was unbanned on February 2, 1990.

As advocates of the black liberation struggle, the PAC's founders criticized the ANC for diluting black nationalism by accepting white members (and Asians and coloureds). The PAC also opposed the ANC's alliance with the SACP because most PAC leaders rejected Marxist economic dogma (although the PAC had advocated some Maoist tenets in the late 1960s). Instead, the PAC advocated an indigenous form of African "communalism." It rejected the ANC's Freedom Charter because the charter sought to guarantee minority rights in a future postapartheid state, and issued instead the Azanian Manifesto in 1959. The manifesto promoted armed struggle by black South Africans as the only means of seizing power, overthrowing capitalism, and restoring their birthright of African landownership. Finally, unlike the ANC, which engaged in extensive political organizing through formal party structures, the PAC believed in the inevitability of national liberation through the spontaneous revolt of the masses.

From 1960 to 1990, the PAC's activities ranged from mass action campaigns, such as a campaign in 1960 to overcome what it termed "black psychological subservience to whites," to protests against the hated pass laws that required black South Africans to carry identity documents. One such demonstration in March 1960 led to at least sixty-seven deaths at police hands and more than 11,000 arrests in subsequent disturbances. The PAC's military wing, the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA)--then known by the name "Poqo" (loosely translated "blacks only")--also engaged in an underground armed struggle against white-dominated political and cultural institutions (see Consolidating Apartheid in the 1960s, ch. 1).

After the PAC was banned in 1960, the organization went underground, with headquarters located in Maseru, Lesotho. It was led by an executive committee, the members of which had either evaded arrest or been released from prison. The PAC's senior leaders included its charismatic founder, Robert Sobukwe; acting president Potlako Leballo, who resigned under pressure in 1979; Vusumazi Make, who succeeded Leballo; John Pokela, who became leader in 1981; Johnson Mlambo, who succeeded Pokela as chairman in 1985; and Clarence Makwetu, who became president in 1990.

Following the PAC's unbanning in 1990, it reorganized as a legal political party, although its military wing continued to operate underground until 1994. Its internal organization consisted of a thirty-five-member National Executive Committee led by President Makwetu, first deputy president Johnson Mlambo, second deputy president Dikgang Moseneki, and general secretary Benny Alexander.

The PAC has eight working committees and a five-member National Coordinating Committee. Its members are organized into 105 local branches nationwide. Affiliated organizations include the Azanian National Youth Unity (Azanyu), a youth wing; the All African Student Committee (Aasac); the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu); the African Organisation for Women (AOW); the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM); the Sobukwe Forum, a London-based faction; and the Pan-Africanist Students' Organisation (PASO), which has branches at several South African universities.

Although the PAC played little role in the multiparty negotiations during 1993 and early 1994, it formally suspended its armed struggle in early 1994 and agreed to participate in the April elections. It gained only 1.2 percent of the national vote, receiving five seats in the National Assembly, and it won one seat in each of three provincial legislatures--in Gauteng (then Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging--PWV), KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape.

Several other political parties participated in the 1994 elections, although, with the exception of the African Christian Democratic Party (which gained two seats in the National Assembly and seats in three of the nine provincial legislatures), none received more than 1 percent of the vote. These parties included the Sports Organisation for Collective Contributions and Equal Rights (SOCCER), the Keep It Straight and Simple Party (KISS), the Women's Rights Peace Party (WRPP), the Worker's List Party (WLP), the Ximoko Progressive Party (XPP), the Africa Muslim Party (AMP), the African Democratic Movement (ADM), the African Moderates Congress Party (AMCP), the Dikwankwetla Party of South Africa (DPSA), the Federal Party (FP), the Luso-South Africa Party (LUSAP), and the Minority Front (MF).

Data as of May 1996

Country Listing

South Africa Table of Contents