Pan Africanist Congress of Azania

Last updated

Pan Africanist Congress of Azania
President Mzwanele Nyhontso
Secretary-GeneralApa Pooe
Founder Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe
Founded6 April 1959 (1959-04-06)
Split from African National Congress
Headquarters2nd Floor, The Main Change Bld, 20 Kruger Street, Johannesburg, Gauteng [1]
Student wing Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania
Youth wing Pan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania
Women's wing Pan Africanist Women's Organisation
Paramilitary wing Azanian People's Liberation Army (POQO) (formerly) (integrated into SANDF)
Ideology Black nationalism
African socialism [2]
Political position Left-wing
Colours  Black
SloganIzwe Lethu!!
Our Land!!
National Assembly
1 / 400
National Council of Provinces
0 / 90
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5
Cape Town City Council
1 / 231
Party flag
Pan Africanist Congress of Azania flag.svg

The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (known as the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC)) is a South African national liberation Pan-Africanist movement that is now a political party. It was founded by an Africanist group, led by Robert Sobukwe, that broke away from the African National Congress (ANC) in 1959, as the PAC objected to the ANC's "the land belongs to all who live in it both white and black" and also rejected a multiracialist worldview, instead advocating a South Africa based on African nationalism. [3] [4]



The PAC was formally launched on 6 April 1959 at Orlando Communal Hall in Soweto. A number of African National Congress (ANC) members broke away because they objected to the substitution of the 1949 Programme of Action with the Freedom Charter adopted in 1955, which used multiracialist language as opposed to Africanist affirmations. The PAC at the time considered South Africa to be an African state by right an "inalienable right of the indigenous African people" and refused to support equal rights of the oppressed and oppressor, exploiter and exploited, the land dispossessor and landless Africans "the dispossessed". Historic Mission of the PAC of The People of Azania is "The complete freedom, liberation and independence of Afrika." This entails political, social, economic and military independence. Robert Sobukwe was elected as the first president, and Potlako Leballo as the Secretary General. [5] [6] [7] [2]

On 21 March 1960, the PAC organised a campaign against pass laws. People gathered in the townships of Sharpeville and Langa where Sobukwe and other top leaders were arrested and later convicted for incitement. Sobukwe was sentenced to three years and Potlako Leballo to two years in prison. Sobukwe died in Kimberley, Cape Province, 1978 of lung cancer. Immediately after the Sharpeville massacre the National Party Government banned both the ANC and PAC on 8 April 1960. The PAC responded by founding its armed wing, the Azanian People's Liberation Army.

Share of PAC votes per district in 1994 election RSA 1994 PAC.png
Share of PAC votes per district in 1994 election


The PAC followed the idea that the South African Government should be constituted by the African people owing their allegiance only to Africa, as stated by Sobukwe in the inaugural speech of the PAC:

"We aim, politically, at government of the Africans by the Africans, for the Africans, with everybody who owes his only loyalty to Africa and who is prepared to accept the democratic rule of an African majority being regarded as an African." [8]

It is Pan Africanism with three principles of African nationalism, socialism, and continental unity. Its body of ideas drew largely from the teachings of Anton Lembede, George Padmore, Marcus Garvey, Martin Delany, Kwame Nkrumah, and W. E. B. Du Bois.

The PAC initially advocated for a form of "Africanist Socialist Democracy", based on African and Black Identity, with the aim of creating a South Africa (which they would rename Azania) for Black South Africans, to the exclusion of other nationalities or ethnicities. [3] [9] Unlike the African National Congress' view on socialism, the PAC was stated to have rejected the concept of class oppression, instead focusing exclusively on national liberation. [9] Nevertheless, their initial manifesto lists the "black working class" as the "driving force in the struggle" against white capitalists and "reactionary" middle-class groups. These socialist elements were strongly toned down by the 1990s, instead adopting a more "conservative" stance that sought not to restrict market forces and a commitment not to implement socialism "for the sake of it". The Pan Africanist Youth Congress of Azania described the new program as the "work of an element which is on the CIA payroll". [10] However, by April 1992, the PAC's party leadership in the Annual Congress no longer showed opposition to taking part in the multiracial negotiations to end the apartheid. [11]

The PAC historically rejected Marxism, opposed communism (though it itself had borrowed from some Maoist tenents) and the inclusion of ethnic minorities within the liberation struggle, instead advocating black liberation exclusively within a Black nationalist concept. [5] [6] [7] [2]

Leadership struggles

The PAC has been beset by infighting and has had numerous changes of leadership since its transition to a political party. In 1996, Clarence Makwetu, who led the party in the 1994 elections, was removed on the basis of "bringing the party into disrepute". [12]

In August 2013, the PAC elected Alton Mphethi as president, after previous leader Letlapa Mphahlele was expelled in May amidst allegations of attempting to cause division in the party, financial impropriety and poor quality leadership. [13] [14]

A faction of the PAC continued to regard Mphahlele as leader. The matter was resolved in the courts, with Mpheti eventually being confirmed as party leader for the 2014 election. [15] [16]

Mpheti has since been charged with murder for the death of a Swazi national, Mthunzi Mavundla, [17] and sentenced for R3 million school transport fraud. [18]

Luthando Mbinda was elected president at the 2014 congress in Botshabelo, while Letlapa Mphahlele was elected in July 2015 in Manguang. Mbinda claimed that Mphahlele's election was not valid, as he was not a valid member, while Mphahlele challenged his expulsion in court.

The Independent Electoral Commission suspended the party's statutory fund’s allocations until there was clarity about who led the party, and in October 2015 the high court confirmed that Mbinda was the recognised leader. [19] [20]

Conflict then arose between Mbinda and Chief Executive Officer Narius Moloto. Mbinda was subsequently charged by the PAC and later expelled for bringing the organisation into disrepute. Narius Moloto was elected party leader in December 2017. [21] [22]

Infighting continued after the 2019 elections, with leader Narius Moloto unilaterally dissolving the party's structures, a decision which was later set aside by the courts. [23]

In August 2019, in Limpopo, one faction elected Moloto as leader, while a week later in Bloemfontein, another faction elected Mzwanele Nyhontso as leader. In October 2019, the Independent Electoral Commission recognised Nyhontso as the legitimate party leader. [24]

In November 2020, speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise received notice that the PAC had expelled Nyhontso, and notified him that he had therefore lost his seat in parliament as the PAC's sole representative. [25] The opposing faction got a court order in December 2020 to reinstate Nyhontso, pending a court order challenging his removal from the party. [26]

In August 2021, the court confirmed that Moloto's election was invalid, confirming Nyhontso as president, and in September 2021 Nyhontso was again sworn in as the party's sole MP. [27] [28]

Election results

National elections

ElectionTotal votesShare of voteSeats+/–Government
1994 243,4781.25%
5 / 400
in opposition
1999 113,1250.78%
3 / 400
Decrease2.svg 2in opposition
2004 113,5120.73%
3 / 400
Steady2.svg ±0in opposition
2009 48,5300.27%
1 / 400
Decrease2.svg 2in opposition
2014 37,7840.21%
1 / 400
Steady2.svg ±0in opposition
2019 32,6770.19%
1 / 400
Steady2.svg ±0in opposition

Provincial elections

Election [29] Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
 %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats %Seats
1994 2.04%1/561.81%0/301.47%1/860.73%1/811.27%1/401.63%0/301.73%0/300.93%0/301.06%0/42
1999 1.14%1/631.15%0/300.73%0/730.26%0/801.41%1/490.66%0/300.74%0/330.66%0/300.49%0/42
2004 1.00%1/631.18%0/300.85%1/730.19%0/800.94%0/490.69%0/300.84%0/330.43%0/300.42%0/42
2009 0.54%0/630.33%0/300.31%0/730.07%0/800.53%0/490.32%0/300.26%0/330.22%0/300.23%0/42
2014 0.44%0/630.21%0/300.26%0/730.08%0/800.29%0/490.23%0/300.14%0/330.11%0/300.17%0/42
2019 0.41%0/630.17%0/300.24%0/730.07%0/800.17%0/490.14%0/300.11%0/330.11%0/300.19%0/42

Municipal elections

ElectionVotes %
1995–96 104,4551.2%
2000 1.2%
2006 306,7471.2%
2011 118,8220.4%
2016 [30] 74,6070.19%

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Sobukwe</span> Founding president of the Pan Africanist Congress (1924–1978)

Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe was a prominent South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and founding member of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), serving as the first president of the organization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Azanian People's Organisation</span> Political party in South Africa

The Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO) is a South African liberation movement and political party. The organisation's two student wings are the Azanian Students' Movement (AZASM) for high school learners and the other being for university level students called the Azanian Students' Convention (AZASCO), its women's wing is Imbeleko Women's Organisation, simply known as IMBELEKO. Its inspiration is drawn from the Black Consciousness Movement inspired philosophy of Black Consciousness developed by Steve Biko, Harry Nengwekhulu, Abram Onkgopotse Tiro, Vuyelwa Mashalaba and others, as well as Marxist Scientific Socialism.

The Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), formerly known as Poqo, was the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress, an African nationalist movement in South Africa. In the Xhosa language, the word 'Poqo' means 'pure'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Sibeko</span>

David Bambatha Maphgumzana Sibeko was known as the "Malcolm X of South Africa" and began his political career as a journalist for the black South African magazine Drum. During his tenure with that magazine, he became a leading figure within the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. During the 1970s he headed the United Nations Observer Mission of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) in New York City and used this position to popularize the PAC particularly among African Americans. In 1979 Sibeko was partially successful in a leadership coup against Potlako Leballo. However, he failed to get support from the Second Azanian People's Liberation Army, recruited from the 1976 student protest generation and was shot dead during an argument with them at his flat in Oyster Bay, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 12 June 1979.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Council of Trade Unions</span> Trade union in South Africa

The National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) is a national trade union center in South Africa.

John Nyathi "Poks" Pokela was a South African political activist and Chairman of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).

Johnson Phillip Mlambo was a South African politician from Johannesburg.

Potlako Kitchener Leballo was an Africanist who led the Pan Africanist Congress until 1979. Leballo was co-founder of the Basutoland African Congress in 1952, a World War II veteran and primary school headmaster.

Zephania Lekoame Mothopeng was a South African political activist and member of the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Internal resistance to apartheid</span> 1950–1994 social movement in South Africa

Internal resistance to apartheid in South Africa originated from several independent sectors of South African society and took forms ranging from social movements and passive resistance to guerrilla warfare. Mass action against the ruling National Party (NP) government, coupled with South Africa's growing international isolation and economic sanctions, were instrumental in leading to negotiations to end apartheid, which began formally in 1990 and ended with South Africa's first multiracial elections under a universal franchise in 1994.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">African People's Convention</span> Political party in South Africa

The African People's Convention is a South African political party formed by Themba Godi, former deputy leader of the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) via floor-crossing legislation, on 4 September 2007. Godi defected along with the PAC's only two provincial representatives, Eastern Cape MPL Zingisa Mkabile and Gauteng MPL Malesela Ledwaba. Godi is the current leader of the APC. The party retained its seat in the National Assembly in the 2009 elections, although it lost both of its representatives in the provincial legislatures of Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

This article covers the history of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, once a South African liberation movement and now a minor political party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mmbara Hulisani Kevin</span>

Mmbara Hulisani Kevin is the former president of PAYCO, a youth wing of PAC in South Africa. Hulisani made news headlines when he took a defiant stance against Letlapa Mphahlele, even going to the extent of calling for his resignation.

Letlapa Mphahlele is a member of the National Assembly of South Africa who represents the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clarence Makwetu</span>

Clarence Mlami Makwetu was a South African anti-apartheid activist, politician, and leader of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) during the historic 1994 elections.

The Pan Africanist Movement is a minor South African political party founded by Thami ka Plaatjie and others from a faction in the Pan Africanist Congress. After a year of in-fighting between supporters of Ka Plaatjie and PAC president Letlapa Mphahlele, the high court ruled that ka Plaatjie's faction could not organise under the name or colours of the Pan Africanist Congress, and a new party was formed to accommodate the Ka Plaatjie faction.

Ashby Solomzi Peter Mda, also known as A. P. Mda was a South African teacher, lawyer, political activist and co founder of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). He was also one of the founders of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.

Mzwanele Nyhontso is a South African politician who is the president of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. He is also a member of the National Assembly of South Africa.

Kenny Thabo Motsamai is a South African anti-apartheid activist, convicted murderer and politician. A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, he has been a permanent delegate to the National Council of Provinces from Gauteng since May 2019. Motsamai is a former military commander of the Azanian People's Liberation Army, the military wing of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania during apartheid. He was imprisoned for nearly three decades for killing a white traffic officer during a bank robbery in 1989.

Bennet Joko is a South African politician who was briefly a Member of 27th South African Parliament from June to August 2021. He is the Deputy President of the Moloto faction of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC). His installation in, and removal from, the PAC's parliamentary seat was part of a factional struggle with Mzwanele Nyhontso's side of the party.


  1. Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. "Contacts". Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 "South Africa – Political Parties". Retrieved 15 June 2020. ...1959 prompted a split by black nationalists from the ANC to form the militant Africanist, anticommunist PAC." ... "The PAC also opposed the ANC's alliance with the SACP because most PAC leaders rejected Marxist economic dogma.
  3. 1 2 "Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) (South African organization)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 12 May 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  4. Why the PAC wants South Africa renamed Azania
  5. 1 2 "Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania | South African organization". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  6. 1 2 "Pan Africanist Congress Of Azania (PAC) – The O'Malley Archives". Retrieved 15 June 2020. They feared that the liberation struggle would be taken over by white and Indian communists and rejected the aspects of the Freedom Charter* that protected minority interests rather than those of Africans throughout the continent.
  7. 1 2 "Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) | South African History Online". Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  8. "Robert Sobukwe Inaugural Speech, April 1959". South African History Online – Towards a People's History. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  9. 1 2 Fatton, Robert (1986). Black Consciousness in South Africa: The Dialectics of Ideological Resistance to White Supremacy SUNY Series in African Politics and Society (PDF). State University of New York Press. ISBN   9780887061295.
  10. "Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) – The O'Malley Archives". Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  11. "Pan Africanist Congress timeline 1959–2011". South African History Online. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  12. "SA has moved backwards, says PAC stalwart Makwetu". Mail and Guardian. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  13. Ntokozo Sindane (11 August 2013). "PAC Announces New Party President". The Public News Hub. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  14. "PAC to plot a new path". The Citizen. 9 June 2013. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  15. "PAC hits campaign trail after leadership fight ends". Herald Live. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  16. "Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  17. "I lied about murder to protect my wife's dignity – Alton Mphethi". City Press. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  18. Makhafola, Getrude. "Former PAC leader Alton Mphethi sentenced for R3 million school transport fraud". News24. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  19. Marianne Merten (10 July 2015). "PAC court bid to get its IEC funding". Independent Online. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  20. "High Court Ruling". Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  21. Naki, Eric (28 April 2017). "Mbinda, Moloto war threatening to tear PAC apart".
  22. Motau, Koketšo. "PAC elects Narius Moloto as new party president".
  23. Ntshidi, Edwin. "PAC leader Narius Moloto dismisses suspension reports". Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  24. "PAC re-elects Mzwanele Nyhontso as president". SABC News. 1 September 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  25. Toit, Christelle du. "PAC's sole MP loses his seat in Parliament". The Citizen. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  26. "Western Cape High Court Orders Reinstatement of PAC MP – Parliament of South Africa". Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  27. "Mzwanele Nyhontso declared PAC's lawful leader". The Citizen. 23 August 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  28. "Return of PAC's voice: New president swearing in a victory for embattled party". The Citizen. 4 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  29. "Results Dashboard". Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  30. "Results Summary – All Ballots" (PDF). Retrieved 11 August 2016.