"From the fringes to fossils": the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania and the negotiated transition to democracy in South Africa, 1990-1994

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    Using archival materials and internal Pan African Congress (PAC) documentation, this article examines the dilemma of the PAC during the transitional negotiations. The new re-alignment of interest groups and political forces which occurred from the time of the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, up to and also after the April 1994 democratic elections, resulted in a complete alteration of the political playing fields; something which created problems for organisations like the PAC which was stuck on the radical traditions of the liberation struggle. The 1988 PAC document, released from the Dar-es-Salaam office of the organisation in Tanzania and titled, Some considerations in respect of the so-called dialogue with white ruled South Africa through its government, is the source of a strategic miscalculation as it advocated iron-clad views regarding the way in which a negotiated settlement should be handled, should it emerge. Moderate positions in support of a negotiated settlement were later, from 1991, articulated, but these views appealed only to the “elites” within the movement. The leadership of the PAC was in a difficult position as it had to keep the balance between the radical demands of its grassroots support and the “elite” insistence to give negotiations a chance, taking into account the international pressure and the changed global landscape in the balance of forces.