This article is a special feature written by Thulisane Julabane. It’s a brief look into the socio-political history of South Africa. Thulisane Julabane is a foreign student from South Africa presently studying at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Belgrade.
The ANC is the ruling party in the Republic of South Africa since the first democratic elections in 1994 until today. I say “is” the ruling party to emphasize the point that it does not look like this is going to change in the near future. The ANC was formed in 1912 because Africans had come together and recognized the need to fight the apartheid regime which was in power at the time. The plan was to fight peacefully without any violence or bloodshed. This proved not to work at all when the apartheid government turned up the heat.
Many know that South Africa is rich in diamonds and gold which were discovered in 1867 and 1886 respectively. These discoveries were a major player in the struggle that followed. The land act was introduced in 1913 and this prevented Africans from buying, renting or using land. This was the same land that was forcefully taken from them by the British reinforcements who came shortly after the British army was defeated in 1878 in the great battle of Isandhlwane. After the land act was implemented Africans had no choice but to go work in the mines to be able to support their families. The ANC saw all these injustices and was eager to make South Africa a land free of apartheid for all to live and benefit from its wealth.
There was so much struggling during the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with the ANC tightening the grip on the fight for freedom. The freedom charter grew bigger and kept piling up with things that blacks, Indians and coloreds felt they needed to change. The list grew because the apartheid regime also kept introducing new acts and laws. The group areas act, Bantu education, high taxes for land, increasing costs of living in general just to mention a few. At this point people had to have a job which paid a wage. The inequality did not stop. The oppressed had their own form of education (Bantu education) which made it difficult for them to do jobs that required any form of qualification. They had to work for very low wages under harsh conditions. Men left their families in rural areas to go work in the mines in Johannesburg and only went home once a year. While there, they could not move around freely because of the law which prevented the interaction of people of different racial groups (group areas act) and the ‘Dompas’.
The ANC fought the apartheid regime but could not succeed because the more they fought the more laws were implemented against them. People were being thrown into jail for no reason, being shot and killed by police for peaceful protests. In 1962 Nelson Mandela was arrested, and charged with conspiracy to overthrow the state. In 1976 students went out in protest against the Bantu education and the use of Afrikaans in schools as a medium of instruction. This is when Hector Peterson was shot and killed by police on June 16 1976. It was after this that more schools joined and also led protests in different areas. About 1000 school children were killed and many arrested.
When Mandela was released from prison in 1990 things changed drastically in South Africa. In 1994 the ANC became the ruling party with Mandela as the President of the nation, after his long walk to freedom, 27 years in prison. The current president Jacob Zuma is nowhere close to being the leader South Africa needs. RSA (The Republic of South Africa) is now free for all who live in it, with equal rights for all. The ANC is not equipped with the right tools to take South Africa to the heights it needs to reach. Unfortunately South Africans are not ready to trust any other party to take over control of the country because of their past experiences. South Africa needs better leadership to help its overall growth, and shorten the wealth gap among its citizens. This can be achieved through great leadership. That is the only thing missing from RSA at the moment, because it is a country rich with resources and minerals.